According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 3.5 million sports-related injuries in children under 15 are treated each year. Contrary to what most moms might believe, football is only the second most injury prone youth sport (with 448,200 injuries each year), coming in behind basketball (574,000). Regardless of what sports your youth athletes are involved in, there is always some level of risk of injury.
Here are 3 tips for preventing youth sports injuries:
Use the right equipment
Some parents might think to themselves, “Cleats are cleats. It doesn’t matter what kind of cleats my child uses.” Think again! For instance, depending on what position your child plays on their football team, they may need high-top cleats for extra ankle support. High top cleats on a soccer field, where agility and speed matter, won’t do the trick. Your soccer player needs low top cleats! The wrong footwear for the wrong sport is the quickest way to a sprained ankle. You would never wear hiking shoes on a basketball court, would you? Make sure your youth athletes have the right equipment for the demands of their sport and it’ll go a long way in injury prevention.
Take warm-ups seriously
Most young athletes don’t treat warm-ups with the same amount of consideration as they do the rest of their practice of a game. It’s just a time filler, right? Coaches and parents should stress the importance of proper stretching before and after practices and games. One of the easiest ways for a youth athlete to get hurt is to push their body too hard too fast. Active (or dymanic) warm ups like leg kicks and high knees get your athletes moving, warming up their muscles and getting them ready for the physical demands of their sport.
Remember your players’ abilities
Many youth athletes hurt themselves when they try to do something they aren’t prepared for. In gymnastics, for instance, it might be trying to execute a difficult bar maneuver they don’t have the skill to do just yet. They can’t get a hold on the bar and fall, spraining a wrist as they land. Was the more advanced move worth the injury? Don’t pressure your youth athlete to a point where they are just trying to please you and aren’t paying attention to what their body is telling them. You youth athlete’s skill will develop with time; no need to rush!