Participation in youth sports is great for building physical fitness, learning self-discipline, and developing social skills. Of course, every parent’s goal is to keep their young athlete happy and healthy, so you’ll be pleased to learn that youth sports are generally safe with a low risk of injury. We believe injuries should never be an acceptable consequence of playing youth sports. We offer only non-contact sports and we put the physical and emotional safety of our players ahead of all other considerations. Still, there’s always a small chance of sprains, strains, cuts, and bruises. Follow these tips to prevent injury within youth sports.
Some kids have such a competitive drive that they push through the pain. Unfortunately, this can lead to a more serious injury and a longer recovery time. Make sure your child knows it’s okay to say if something doesn’t feel right. In fact, speaking up can help prevent repeat acute injuries that could become chronic overuse injuries. We have a strict “When in Doubt, Sit Them Out Concussion Safety Protocol” so our coaches and staff are trained to properly know the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and will not let a child in question play!
At the start of the school year or whenever your child’s sport begins, schedule a trip to your family doctor’s office. A preseason sports physical helps you and your athlete identify any areas of concern you need to know about before starting a new activity. Although this is not a requirement to play in our leagues, it can definitely help put you at ease as a parent, and know that your child is ready to play!
Cross-training, or sampling/playing multiple sports, is a great way to stay active without continually stressing the same muscles and joints. Of course, parents should be mindful about how many teams their children play on and the amount of practice they have each week to prevent overdoing it. This is not only beneficial for a child’s physical health and safety, but good for their mental health, as well. Playing only one sport can be mentally draining. It can also put a lot of pressure on young athletes causing stress from the lofty expectations that come with the continuous involvement and training.
Kids need downtime between practices, games, and tournaments. Lack of sleep and muscle fatigue increase the risk of injury. Along these lines, if your child plays in multiple different leagues, make sure you plan an offseason for your athlete so their body can recuperate before the next season starts.
Warm, loose muscles are less prone to injury than cold, tight ones. That’s why it’s important to stretch and warm up before any physical activity. Encourage your athlete to combine both static and dynamic stretches while warming up. This includes toe touches and the butterfly to lengthen the ligaments and tendons, along with gentle activities like jumping jacks and running in place to warm up the muscles.
Nutrition is a big deal for athletes of all ages and skill levels. Without the proper vitamins and nutrients, kids’ bodies don’t have what they need to perform well, especially during a growth spurt when their systems demand a lot of energy.
Strive to provide your child with healthy meals and snacks composed of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Try to maintain a regular eating schedule as well to help prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes. Get some ideas for before, during and after gameday snacks here!
Heat-related illnesses are a major concern for athletes, especially on hot, humid days. Make sure your child always has a topped-off water bottle to bring to practices and games. Then, watch for signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, such as fatigue, nausea and vomiting, confusion, or fainting.
The most important pieces of athletic equipment are the player’s shoes. If they don’t fit properly, your child is liable to trip, slip, and fall. At the start of the season, make sure shoes — and other equipment like shin guards or mouth guards — fit properly. If you need help finding the perfect fit for your child’s cleats, check out this blog post!
In every sport, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything. For instance, baseball pitchers need to be taught the proper way to throw a ball to avoid injuring their shoulders. And soccer players need to learn how to handle the ball with their feet so they don’t trip. Make sure your child knows to listen to the coach’s instructions and follow the technique guidelines they learn.
If you notice anything strange about your child’s movements—such as limping, throwing differently, or rubbing their knee between activities—pull them out of play. If the problem persists, treat it before letting your child back in the game.
The most common at-home treatment for sports injuries is RICE—rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If this level of care doesn’t remedy the problem within a few days, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.
At i9 Sports®®, we’re committed to providing youth sports the way they should be. We want kids to love their time playing on a team and make the most of their experience as young athletes. This includes making safety a top priority!
If your child is interested in playing sports like flag football, soccer, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, or volleyball, we’re the youth sports league for you! To learn more about what i9 Sports® has to offer, please browse our programs or contact your local i9 Sports® office today.