Player safety is our top priority in all i9 Sports® programs. Keeping youth athletes safe requires proper equipment. We’ve listed the five essentials for sports safety that should be used during every practice or game depending on your sport.
Functioning as head protection, helmets are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment for all sport levels. Typically sports that use helmets are high contact sports such as tackle football, hockey, and men’s lacrosse. Women’s lacrosse does not use helmets as their rules differ and they do not permit as much contact as men’s lacrosse. Baseball and softball are the only sports with less contact that require helmets in order to protect batters from wild pitches. At higher levels of play, baseballs can be thrown over 100mph and softballs just over 75mph and can cause significant injury at those speeds.
High impact sports and speedy projectiles can cause significant head injuries such as concussions. Concussions can cause serious brain damage if not treated properly. Helmets are the best way to avoid concussions and head injuries altogether in these specific sports.
Mouthguards also help protect against concussions as well as jaw, lip, tongue, and teeth injuries. This safety gear can be used in any sport no matter how much contact is involved. In terms of concussions, mouthguards help keep your jawbone in place. This creates a slight separation between the skull and jawbone, reducing the force being transferred to the skull when a collision occurs. They can’t prevent a concussion, but they can help lessen the impact between the jawbone and the skull.
When people collide with one another or fall, our bodies automatically tense up as a reaction. Even if we don’t notice it, our fists clinch as well as our jaws. As part of this reaction, we tend to bite down which can cause teeth to puncture your lips or tongue. Mouthguards are durable, easy to clean, and keep your teeth in place to prevent these injuries.
i9 Sports® recommends that players wear mouthguards during soccer and basketball as well as the mandatory use of mouthguards during flag football and lacrosse.
Knee pads are subtle, yet important protection for athletes in many sports. They help protect the knees from bruising, weakening, and fracturing from constant impact with hard surfaces such as the ground. Volleyball players benefit from knee pads when they slide on gym floors to dive for the ball. Knee pads can also help stabilize your ligaments during agility movements. This does not guarantee prevention of a ligament tear, but according to a 2005 study by The American Journal of Epidemiology, knee pads decrease knee injuries by 56%.
The main function of shin guards is to protect the bones and soft tissues in an athlete’s lower leg from external impacts. Shin guards absorb the shock from impact whether it be from a ball or another athlete’s foot. Studies show that shin guards protect the lower leg from 90% of force load, meaning they significantly decrease chances of fractures and other injuries.
Shoes are a seemingly small detail, but proper footwear is one of the most important safety essentials in sports. The well-known and successful UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, started every season by teaching his adult players how to put on their socks and shoes. Though it sounds ridiculous, he did this to prevent blisters, and to prevent shoelaces from becoming untied during a game. “It’s the little details that are vital,” said Wooden.
It’s the small detail of proper footwear that can prevent athletes from foot and ankle injuries. Whether you use cleats or sneakers, it’s important to make sure the shoes fit correctly- not too tight, and not too loose. A shoe that’s too tight can cause swelling and restriction of blood flow. Whereas a shoe that’s too loose can increase the risk of falls and ankle injuries. A shoe that fits properly helps maintain stability in the ankles during agility movements and decreases the risk of twisting or rolling of the ankle which can cause an ankle sprain or fracture. The proper shoe can also help prevent shin splints, which are common in those that run a lot.
Youth athletes benefit tremendously from utilizing these safety essentials. Preventing young athletes from injury allows them to keep playing sports as long as they’d like and to be active long term. These essentials can help reduce overuse injuries as well as the more acute injuries. Sitting out of practice, and missing your favorite season is no fun, so we highly recommend using these essentials when it’s appropriate.