Gearing Up For Fall Sports

Each year, more than 38 million children participate in sports in theUnited Statesand more than 3.5 million young adults are treated for sports injuries. Experts say as many as half the injuries sustained by youth while playing sports are preventable.

Parents can prevent injuries by preparing their athlete to play a sport.  First and foremost, all athletes should have a pre participation physical every year.  A physical exam by a doctor can detect any serious underlying medical conditions and prevent a medical emergency. Family history, past medical history, and sports specific history should all be discussed.

If a doctor does not see a medical condition that may prohibit a teen from playing, the player should engage in proper conditioning.  To prevent acute and overuse injuries, coaches should teach young athletes proper routines for both warm-ups and cool-downs before and after practice and play. This can help prevent sports-related injuries (such as muscle tears or sprains) by stretching and releasing any muscle tension.  However, conditioning is not the only way to protect yourself from injuries.

Every sport requires some equipment, and most equipment is designed to protect an athlete from serious injury.  Some sports require more equipment such as football or hockey while others require less, for example cross country.  But, no matter what the sport is, well maintained safety equipment should be used for both practice and games.  Equipment should be up-to-date and correctly fit.  Ill-fitting equipment will not adequately protect an athlete.  Make sure to take care of equipment by cleaning it and properly storing it.

An athlete plays best when they are hydrated. Athletes should hydrate before, during and after practice.  Players should drink 30 minutes before activity begins, every 15-20 minutes during practice, and every 20 minutes after the activity.  If you are feeling thirsty or dehydrated, it is already too late.  Instead, establish water breaks during practice and games to avoid dehydration.  Dehydration can tire a player out prematurely, and rest is needed to recuperate.

If young athletes are very tired or in pain, coaches and parents should encourage them to rest as this valuable recovery time can help prevent overuse injuries.  Nowadays, parents push their teens to extreme limits, but parents should never put their athlete’s health in jeopardy.  Let players rest when they need to.

Sports can be an exciting time in a young adult’s life.  They build confidence, teamwork, and promote physical exercise.  Help your athlete to enjoy sports by keeping them injury free.