April is National Youth Sports Safety month! We are excited to see programs and educators come together this month to help bring awareness to injury prevention! As spring and summer youth programs begin, it is a great time to help promote awareness of the increasing injuries in youth sports and help facilitate a better understanding of how we can prevent these injuries. Through the Foundation, we are able to provide health, fitness and injury prevention workshops for sports based youth development programs, their coaches, program professionals and parents. We continue to believe through the power of partnerships that we will have greatest impact in accomplishing our mission.
Below is a post from a nonprofit organization in St. Louis seeking to create safer high school sports programs. It was founded in 2014 by Dr. Ron Wagner. Check out these 4 easy steps that anyone associated with youth sports can do to help spread awareness and prevention for our youth.
In their 2013 Annual Report, “Game Changers: Stats, Stories and What Communities Are Doing to Protect Young Athletes,” Safe Kids shared four things that parents, athletes and coaches can do to prevent sports injuries.
Learning about sports mechanics and sports safety is easier than ever. With online safety videos and articles and community sports safety clinics, parents have access to a vast amount of information. We have developed an online library for coaches, parents and athletes that highlights some of the most critical sports safety knowledge for parents and coaches to know.
Proper equipment and playing surfaces will contribute to athlete safety as well. As a rule of thumb, protective equipment should be approved by the organizations that govern each of the sports – the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) for hockey, for example. To check on the strength and durability of a helmet, look for the NOCSAE sticker, which indicates that the helmet meets the standards of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.
True Athlete’s sports mechanics guide discusses proper form when jumping to prevent injuries.
Athletes can avoid a great variety of injuries to hips, knees and ligaments through proper strengthening, stretching and agility exercises. Proper tackling form can reduce head contact, and resulting head injuries. Proper mechanics when jumping and running can prevent ligament tears and breaks. Check out these resources to help your athlete with his or her form:
As kids grow, their likelihood of injury increases – in part due to the increased force and weight with collisions and falls – and in part due to their ever-shifting center of gravity through growth spurts. Balance exercises and mechanics coaching can help prevent recurrence of these instances.
Athletes are, by nature, competitive. We’ve all seen players “walk it off,” or “man up,” but many times this is done to their detriment. Encourage your athletes to share their concerns, to be honest about their injuries and to take care of themselves in between games so that they are in a better position to recover from sports injuries when they do occur.
Coaches and officials are stewards of athlete health – a job that isn’t without its risks, and which hopefully comes with rewards as well. Strong injury prevention policies can protect athletes from overuse or impact injuries and extend their athletic career and the opportunities that it provides.
We recommend that parents take the time to learn about their state’s concussion injury laws, which determine whether a pre-participation physical is required – and whether immediate removal of an athlete is required after a sustained hit, fall or other injury – until a medical professional is available to provide clearance for play.
For more details on the SafeKids recommendations and other great resources, click here to view the SafeKids guide.