When it comes to sports and physical activity, it’s impossible to ignore the many benefits kids receive from it. This is true on many levels, as they get to interact with their peers, stay physically and mentally fit, and have a healthy emotional outlet.
Whether you’re a parent to a young athlete, or you’re a professional coach, there are several things that you need to keep in mind to prevent injuries and discomfort. By following safety guidelines, you’ll ensure that the sport remains a pleasurable and healthy experience for the kids.
Preparation and assessment
Before taking up any sport, you should talk with your kid and consult with a doctor. A physical exam is a must, which would include a thorough review of the medical record, as well as a series of tests. You should report any pre-existing conditions, autoimmune diseases, allergies to food and medicine, etc.
In addition, don’t forget to mention your telephone number in case of emergency and relevant contact information of their chosen doctor. You should also openly talk with the coach about any pre-existing or chronic conditions, like asthma or epilepsy, so that they’ll take precautionary measures and give you further advice.
Strech & Warm up
Young athletes should never underestimate the importance of good warm up techniques and stretching. Experienced coaches don’t skip warm-ups and they know how to adapt it to fit the level of fitness of every kid. Stretching allows muscles to relax and alleviate any hidden tension that could otherwise lead to injuries. The typical routine involves about ten minutes of light exercise, ending with stretching all muscle groups for about 20 – 30 seconds.
Water is one of the vital resources that help kids cool down, quench their thirst that naturally appears after physical effort, and keep them safe from harm. Dehydration can be lead to serious problems if not addressed properly.
To prevent this, coaches should impose a routine: kids should drink water half an hour before the beginning of the game or pratice and then every 15 – 20 minutes. Water breaks are another thing that you should make mandatory. If they’re thirsty, they’re not going to play their best game and will be exhausted.
Don sports gear
Age appropriate and properly sized sports gear is a must, both in terms of safety against injuries, and as a way to mentally warm up, and prepare for the game. Appropriate equipment is necessary to participate in practices and games, as they can greatly reduce the risk of injuries. Of course, the equipment will vary from one sport to another, and may include:
- mouth gards,
- ankle braces,
- swimming goggles,
- leg fins,
- shoes with cleats etc.
Protect the head and learn to recognize signs of concussion
Everyone on the team and in the parent group should know how to recognize a concussion. When you suspect that one of the kids has sufferred a concussion, remove them from the game until they are checked by a medical assistant. When in doubt, make sure to sit them down a bit.
Prioritize breaks and time for recovery
Resting time is crucial to allow muscles to recuperate and prevent injuries caused by overuse. Taking breaks from workouts and practice is vital for the safety of any young athlete. It gives them the opportunity to report how they feel, if they’re injured, in pain, or feeling sick. They need some time to recover before getting back on track. Professional coaches strongly recommend at least one or two days of rest every week, so consider it a part of their weekly exercise routine.
Establish clean guidelines
If you’re a professional coach, you should be well prepared for the role. This means that it’s up to you to provide and inform everyone involved about safety tips and guidelines. You should invest time in obtaining necessary certificates in first aid, and have the first aid kid with you at all times.
Support your kid
If your kid loves physical activity, but you haven’t found an ideal sport he or she can take up, don’t rush them. Encourage him or her to do some strolls around the park, or to enjoy some wall climbing, obstacle courses, or trampolines at a local fun park like Uptown Jungle in Las Vegas. Allow them enough time to find what they truly like and enjoy and you’ll be sure that they will use sport as a healthy passtime throughout their life, even if they don’t make it their primary career choice. Teach them about possible injuries, importance of rest, healthy meals, staying hydrated, and most importantly, show them that you support them when they need it the most.