9 ways to prevent injuries in young athletes
And why they are getting hurt
Over the past few years, we have seen a greater emphasis on safety in sports at the professional and collegiate level. The Texas Legislature has also taken action for high school athletes, 14 years and older, passing new regulations aimed and reducing risk for sudden cardiac arrest, concussions and heat-related injuries
That’s great. I appreciate all the efforts to protect the well-being of those players.
But today, I want to focus on our youth and how to make sure injuries can be prevented at the 14 and under level. In 2012, the City of Fort Worth estimated 10,000 volunteer coaches managing youth sports teams throughout the Fort Worth and Tarrant County, under the age of 14. The report said “most of these coaches are parents or other family members who have not been specifically trained on how to coach youth sports or youth sports safety.”
Sports activities help children and adolescents stay fit, learn about teamwork and develop self-confidence. However, with the number of youths participating in sport activities increasing, the rate of injuries is also steadily rising for this group. Each year, approximately 775,000 children under the age of 15 are treated in emergency rooms for sports injuries across the nation.
How can injuries be prevented?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that children wait until 6 years of age before participating in team sports. Young children could sustain injuries because they do not understand the concept of team play. In addition to age, sports injuries can result from not following recommended procedures for the young athlete before, during and after their sporting activities.
Here are nine recommendations for lowering the risk of injury to the young athlete.
- Get a sport physical from a physician for your child.
- Coaches/instructors/athletic trainers should have annual education on specific sporting activity and guidelines.
- Make sure your child has well-fitted safety/protective equipment and shoes.
- Have an Emergency Action Plan in place and practiced as a drill.
- Follow a pre- and post-practice/game dynamic warm-up program.
- Take the time teach the correct technique of skills.
- Take rest breaks and drink water frequently during activities.
- Know the signs of overtraining.
- Maintain good mental health.
If you are coaching youth sports or you are the parent of a youth participating in sports, please read all of the “young athlete’s injury prevention guides” from our experts at Cook Children’s Sports Performance Orthopedic Rehab Team Specialists.
Additional training for coaches both recreational and professional: City of Fort Worth Training Video complete with a pre/post-test.
Dana Harrison, PT, MPT is Cook Children’s SPORTS program/Rehab manager. Our physicians, therapists, nurses and technologists work exclusively with kids and understand the unique needs of a growing athlete's bones, muscles, body and mind.