School starting makes me think of football, soccer, and other fall sports. Sports provide benefits in many ways. They increase physical coordination, fitness, self-esteem, teamwork, and self-discipline. Children and adults can benefits both physically and psychologically from playing sports.
With growing bodies which are still developing coordination, children are more susceptible to sports injuries. Half of all the sports injuries could be prevented with proper safety gear, sports rules that help prevent injuries, and changes to the playing environment.
What can you do to prevent injuries?
- Make sure your child is wearing the appropriate safety gear and equipment
- Check to make sure the playing environment is safe
- Enforce safety rules or make sure they are being followed.
- Make sure your child and others are staying hydrated during and after playing.
Safety Gear and Equipment
Make sure your child and others have the sport-specific safety gear they need and make sure they use it. Make sure the gear fits correctly (mouthguards, pads, helmets). The equipment should be appropriate for their age and size and be in good working condition. The playing area should be free form debris and water.
It’s important that all children and adults have a physical sports’ checkup before they start to play sports. These physicals help reveal physical strengths and weaknesses which can help determine which sports are appropriate for your child.
When is a child ready to play sports?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children begin participating in team sports at age 6 or when they understand the concept of teamwork. Starting a child too young will not benefit the child physically. Each child is different so base your decision on the following:
Staying hydrated is important
Sweat lost during sports needs to be replaced with equal amounts of fluids, usually 1 to 1-1/2 liters per hour of intense activity. When participating in sports you or your child should be drinking fluids before, during, and after each practice or game. It is best to avoid carbonated drinks and drinks with caffeine.
(Reference: Sports Safety, Ohio State University Medical Center Patient Care materials)
Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension