I myself am a huge fan of football at all levels: youth, college, and professional. However, at what point and at what cost do players, young or old, suffer extreme consequences? When injuries do happen to young children, how much more of an impact does it have?
According to the National Institute of Health, approximately two million children ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade, were injured playing a youth sport in 2001.
Thankfully, the majority of those injuries were minor. Nevertheless, there were a large number of them that were not. Of those severe injuries, several had permanent implications.
Young children are still growing and their bones are not fully developed. When fractures and brutal injuries take place, it is a concern for many orthopedic surgeons because children’s growth plates are extremely fragile.
Not to mention, with the lack of muscle development, kids are even more susceptible to neck and back injuries.
First, make sure your child is healthy enough to play. Most associations do require a physical, but have one by a doctor that knows your child such as your pediatrician.
2) Pads and Helmets Have a Purpose – Use Them!
Preventing injuries is vital. Equipment that does not fit correctly defeats the purpose of wearing safety gear. Does the helmet fit correctly and have enough air in the pads?
3) Make Sure the Coaches Have the Same Agenda as You: Safety First
If the coach’s attitude is “no pain, no gain,” the chance of your son getting injured increases exponentially. Playing through the pain at any age especially a young child’s is good to a certain extent.
4) Do the Coaches Know What They are Talking About?
It does not take long to find out whether a coach understands the game, and how to play it safely. Also, the coach should know you have questions that need answers. When you do ask the coach, is he/she genuine, or unreceptive towards answering?
5) Winning and safety
Safety is a parent’s number one priority. Coaches on the other hand usually want to win, and unfortunately winning and safety can not both stand at the top of the chart. Does your coach understand where winning is on a youth scale of importance?
6) Pick on Someone Your Own Size
At the youth level, kids should participate against kids their own size. Many associations have weight limits for a reason. It is not okay for an 80 pound third grader to play on a 120 pound sixth grader’s team to make carpooling is easier.
7) Don’t forget about the field
Is it kept in good condition? Does it have a lot of holes or garbage like broken glass that could cause injuries?
8) Watch Out for the Heat
A watered down sports drink will keep your child hydrated. That is extremely important in high temperatures during conditioning.
9) Don’t Ignore the Small Injuries
Don’t take your kid to the Doctor’s office with every small scrape, but do not accept “its nothing.” Persistent problems usually deserve medical attention.
10) Sculpt the Guns
As your children hit puberty, they will probably want to head to the gym to impress the opposite sex. Proper strength training is important on its own, but especially at such a young age. Parents should encourage supervision.
Parents enjoy watching sports. To be able to watch your child participate and have fun is a gift of its own. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of sports. It is important to teach children that when their knocked down to get back up. However, at the end of the day, safety should be everyone’s number one priority.