Organized sports like youth football benefit your child's health and social development, but injuries can happen. Before your child hits the football field this season, make sure you follow these safety tips:
- Find a league that emphasizes safety. Before signing your child up to play, learn about the league's safety practices. At a minimum, the league should require that someone trained in CPR and first aid be present at practices and games. Some leagues require a certified emergency medical technician (EMT) be present at games. Also, find out the league's rules for water breaks and playing in intense heat, and ask what kind of injury prevention training the coaches receive.
- Use the right equipment. Whether at practice or during a game, your child should not be on the field without all of the required equipment. This includes a mouthguard, helmet, football pads and cleats. Even more, the equipment must fit properly, especially the helmet. A properly fitted helmet reduces your child's risk of concussion.
- Learn the rules of the game. The coach should know all of the rules as well as the fundamentals of tackling. However, you should learn the rules of the game, too, so you can recognize when they aren't being followed. Illegal moves like spear tackling with the helmet and blocking below the waist put your child's safety at risk. You want to be aware of this when watching your child play, so you can make sure the coach is putting your child's safety first.
- Help your child get conditioned for the game. Conditioning means staying physically active and eating a nutritious diet all year round. Conditioning doesn't just make you're your child a better football player, it prevents injuries.
It's important to note that a 2015 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that the injury rate in youth football is significantly lower than the rate in high school or college football. However, you should still put your child's safety and health first at every practice and game.
From sports physicals to injury prevention education, the primary care providers with the Christ Hospital Physicians can help you keep your child's football experience fun and injury-free. Find a physician who meets your needs.