More than 38 million children and adolescents participate in sports each year in the U.S., and each year more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries.
Safe Kids Worldwide has created the following list of tips for coaches, parents and kids to help prevent sports-related injuries. To keep kids healthy and active in sports, remember C-O-A-C-H-E-S.
Condition with a good warm-up before practices and games. Start with about 10 minutes of jogging, jumping jacks or anything that brings the heart rate up gradually. Then stretch all major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Overuse Injury Prevention
Overuse injuries can be reduced by making sure kids get rest breaks. In addition to rest during practices and games, kids should have at least one to two days off from sports each week, and ten consecutive weeks of rest from any given sport each year.
Advance planning can help coaches be prepared for emergencies. Make sure kids get sports physicals from their doctor before they participate. Store parents’ contact information in the coach’s phone, have a first aid kit handy and have a plan in place for any medical emergencies.
Concussions are serious, but are sometimes hard to recognize when they happen. Coaches, parents and kids need to learn the signs and symptoms of concussions so everyone can be watching for them. A player with a suspected concussion must be sidelined until checked by a medical professional. A good rule of thumb: When in doubt, sit them out.
Hydrating before, during and after practices and games is essential. Make sure athletes drink water 30 minutes before the activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during activity. Don’t wait for kids to tell you they are thirsty. Making regular hydration breaks a habit is smart coaching.
Equipment can do a lot to keep kids safe, but only if it’s in good condition, fitted properly and worn for every practice and every game.
Safety training is easier to get than you might think. Safe Kids Worldwide offers free tip sheets, concussion guides and fact sheets.