Sports safety for kids is so important.
Just like we trust the teachers we hand our kids over to for education, the same needs to be had for sports.
Sports Safety for Kids 101
Do Your Research
Just like we spend time researching where our kids go to daycare and go to school, we need to do our due diligence with the athletic program they participate in, as well.
When our kids walk out of the classroom at 3PM and head to practice for the next two hours, who are they going to be spending that time with?
As John O’Sullivan points out, at the very least, the athletic trainers and coaches our kids work with should, at the very least, have a four-year degree, ideally, a Masters degree. He also suggests that they participate in an ongoing education program for athletics or their sport, in particular. And finally, he said it’s a must that they have administrators to answer to.
We should feel confident that our trainers are knowledgeable and competent. We need to know that they’re going to take good care of our kids during their time together, being smart about their physical capabilities and concerned for safety, first. And they should have the education, both former and ongoing, to ensure that safety is maintained.
And the layers of administration in place, who they have to answer to, ensures coaches don’t go from being demanding to being demeaning. There are too many horror stories of coaches who are bullying student athletes in the name of “pushing them.” And sadly, this behavior has major, long-term psychological repercussions.
And finally, do your research about the sport. Is it developmentally appropriate for your child? For example, you wouldn’t want a young child participating in tackle football.
Up until the age of 13, kids shouldn’t be specialized in one sport. In fact, only training for one sport at a young age can result in injuries.
Matthew Silvis, professor of family and community medicine and orthopedics and rehabilitation, says, “In many sports, there’s a belief among many parents and coaches that in order for your child to make the team or have the best chance for a collegiate scholarship, you have to pick a sport really early in life and only focus on that one sport. That actually runs counter to what we think in terms of sports medicine and sports performance.”
He goes on to say, “”If a child participates in one sport, they’re only working certain muscle groups,” Silvis said. “You are consistently placing your body through the same movement patterns and demands. It puts you at risk of an overuse injury.”
“If you only play one sport, you also miss out on sports diversification, which is the idea that being a really good soccer or tennis player may help you be a really good ice hockey player,” Silvis said. “We’ve seen a lot of professional athletes coming out in support of this, saying that by playing a lot of sports you’ll learn many skills and work different muscle groups that will help you if you specialize in one sport later on.”
So encourage your children at a young age to play multiple sports and learn to move in multiple ways. Develop that athletic base what will serve them the rest of their lives.
Then, in the later teen years, they can start to focus on training to win.
Conclusion: Sports Safety and Injury Prevention for Kids
We all want our kids to be safe as they participate in sports, and not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Your coach should be well educated (a four-year-degree and ideally a Masters) and participate in ongoing education
- There should be multiple levels of administrators overseeing the coach’s performance and behavior
- The sport should be developmentally appropriate for your child
- Encourage your child to participate in multiple sports since specializing before the age of 13 can lead to overuse injuries
Do you have any other suggestions to add to our list for sports safety? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!