The crack of the bats, the roar of the crowds………..There is nothing like youth sports. I have been cheering for my children for over 20 years now. I still get an adrenaline rush when I see my kids take the field. I’m sure you agree that we will always be our kids’ biggest fans. My family has been lucky to have such wonderful coaches over the years. Each one has been a big part of shaping my children’s future. Win or lose there is so much to learn from youth sports.
Perhaps, my experience has been a little different than that of some of the other moms. My children have never been the “star player” on the team. Sure, they have had their “shining moments”. Some of my favorite memories are those moments which include the hit to win the championship game in softball, the fumble recovery, and others……… What this experience has allowed me to teach my children is the love of the sport. I don’t need to pressure them to do much more than enjoy the game. They work very hard and have a good time. I’m as proud of their efforts as the star player’s mom is proud of her young athlete.
Today, I want to talk about player safety. There are things we can do to keep our young athletes safe. At the start of each season, I pray that each child be protected from harm and have a wonderful experience. Whether they have a future in sports or as a brain surgeon, it is important to keep them safe and help them to reduce injury. Nothing can ruin the love for sport quicker than having to sit on the bench with a broken arm.
Years ago, my city baseball league worked to earn a grant based on their safety practices. I learned a lot about baseball safety that year. My husband serves as the player safety coach for our city football league. He oversees all games and makes decisions independent of coaches. He is the youth football players’ advocate. These types of positions and programs put a real focus on safety. If your league does not have these programs in place, I encourage you to ask for them. Most leagues hold open meetings and are open to the idea of encouraging safety.Keep your young athlete safe this season with these tips. #youthsports Click To Tweet
Here are 7 simple tips that all sports moms (and dads) should keep in mind.
Learn about your child’s chosen sport. It is easier to recognize potential injury when you have some idea of how the sport is played. You don’t have to be an expert, but having some knowledge of the sport really is helpful. Talk to other parents, watch some Youtube videos, or watch professional sports to gain a bit of information.
Choose a league where the coaches receive training in first-aid and injury prevention. Coaches should also be trained to look for signs of concussion. I was surprised to learn that cheerleading and girls’ soccer have more incidences of concussion in youth sports than football. When it comes to protecting brains, you can never be too careful. The coaches should also bring a properly stocked first-aid kit to all games and practices.
Guard your child against overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are primarily caused by playing the same sport all year round. It has become very popular lately for children to specialize in one sport and practice it year round. This is believed to be the reason that overuse injuries are on the rise. Make sure your child varies their routines to avoid overuse injuries and burnout. They are still growing and muscles are still developing. Knees, ankles, and feet are particularly at risk for overuse injuries.
Demand safe fields and equipment. As more and more children are signing up for youth sports, the competition for facilities increases as well. Make sure your organization provides a safe place to play. Are the fields maintained? Are there anchored goals? Are there nets to protect players from foul balls? Is safety equipment in good shape and updated on a regular basis?
Make sure your league adheres to their weather policy. Policies on weather are there for a reason. I know that I have been annoyed to have to wait for a 1/2 hour after seeing lightning on more than one occasion. I also know that I would have been more annoyed to find out that coaches and officials were not following the rules that are put in place to protect our children. Help support the decision that is made to protect your child. If in doubt, error on the side of caution.
Make sure your league runs background checks on coaches. You can never be too careful. Coaches will be spending plenty of time with your child. Although background checks don’t prevent all problems, they can certainly weed out potential risks.
Be involved. The best way to keep an eye on things is to observe practices and games. Nobody watches your child as closely as you do. As the kid’s get older, attending practices may not always be possible so conversation is key. Ask your children about their practices. Keep an open dialogue and listen for signs of potential injury.
The world of youth sports has gone through a remarkable transformation over the years. It is up to us as parents to make sure that it a positive experience for our children. Keeping our children safe while playing organized sports is an important part of that responsibility. We can’t keep them in a bubble to make sure they never get hurt, but there are plenty of things we can do to help reduce the potential for injury.
What are some of the things your sports teams and leagues do to reduce injury? What are some of the horror stories that you have seen or heard of in youth sports? What types of sports are the most popular in your community?
If you are serious about youth sports, it’s important to look at nutrition as a piece of the preparation. You will want to check out these articles on sports nutrition.