Young Children and Sports

There are many benefits to sports programs for youth. Children learn new skills, sportsmanship, work ethics, responsibility, and teamwork. They gain physical strength and agility, as well as overall improved health.  They learn to win graciously (we hope) and accept and learn from failure. They get a chance to socialize, make new friends and just have fun!

But there are always hazards to any sports activity.

In recent news, reports have emphasized the problem with concussions. How can you help your child properly prepare and train to avoid injury?

  • Make sure your child has and uses the proper equipment to protect them from injury.
  • Make sure your child eats a healthy diet. The food they eat becomes fuel for their bodies. To participate in sports they need to be healthy on the inside as well as on the outside.
  • Make sure they are getting enough sleep. This helps their bodies regain the strength they lost during the day.
  • Encourage your child to play a variety of sports. This provides the benefit of varied activity while facing additional physical and psychological demands from intense training and competition.
  • Limit the amount of time your child spends training or practicing a sport.
  • Do not encourage a child to “work through” an injury. Make sure the injury is checked out by a doctor if necessary and give the child adequate time to heal.
  • Before practices and games make sure your child warms up their muscles.

Children should take responsibility for eating well, keeping hydrated, doing the proper stretching exercises, and getting the rest they need.  They should also report any pain or unusual symptoms to their parents or coach.

Parents take the responsibility of their child having a complete physical, providing proper nutrition and hydration, and following any directions given by the coach or doctor.  They are also responsible for providing any protective gear and equipment needed such as proper shoes, shin guards, mitts, masks, padding, etc. If child sustains an injury, they should see that proper medical help is sought.

Coaches should conduct practices in a safe manner, providing adequate rest and recovery, hydration, and requiring proper safety gear and equipment, and instruction on how to use the gear and equipment properly.  Coaches should follow up on any injuries sustained during practice or play and bench any player that might have sustained a serious injury.

Sports organizations should provide materials and instructions about age requirements, safety and safety equipment, as well as insurance requirements. Teams should be divided into age or gender appropriate categories.

Ultimately, don’t be afraid to let your child venture out and participate.

Just be prepared!

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