A Report on Youth Sports Safety, a national survey commissioned by Safe Kids Worldwide and Johnson & Johnson, reveals misperceptions and uninformed behaviors are all too common, resulting in overuse injuries, dehydration, concussions or worse.
For example: Nine out of 10 parents underestimate the length of time kids should take off from playing any one sport during the year to protect them from overuse, overtraining and burnout. Children should take 2 to 3 months, or a season, away from a specific sport every year. Young athletes are encouraged to take at least 1 day off each week from organized activity.
More than half of all coaches believe there is an acceptable amount of head contact during play, described as “getting your bell rung” or “seeing stars,” without potentially causing a serious brain injury. The reality is it is hard to tell the degree of impact, and every precaution should be taken to protect kids from repeated concussions.
Approximately 4 out of 10 parents underestimate the amount of fluids a typical young athlete needs per hour of play. Children need to drink fluids every 15-20 minutes during physical activity to avoid dehydration.
92 percent of parents say they depend on coaches to keep their kids safe, however: Nearly half of all coaches indicated that they have felt pressure, either from parents or children, to play an injured child in a game. Three out of 10 kids think that good players should keep playing even when they’re hurt, unless a coach or adult makes them stop.
While parents rely on coaches for the safety of their young athletes, only 2 in 5 parents know how much sports safety training their child’s coach has received. Even well-trained coaches report they would like more training, specifically on preventing concussions (76 percent) and heat illness (73 percent). What’s preventing coaches from getting more training? Cost, lack of time and lack of local sources of information are the main barriers coaches gave for not getting more education.
There is a gap between what coaches and parents can do to keep kids safe and what we’re actually doing. With some simple precautions, we can change these troubling statistics and keep kids healthy and enjoying the benefits of sports. Culturally, there’s an attitude that injuries are a natural consequence of sports and that good athletes tough it out when they suffer an injury.
For more information about sports safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.