Safety in youth sports is everyone’s responsibility. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 2.6 million youth sports injuries annually. Break it down and that’s over 7,000 child sports injuries every day in the United States. A majority of American children participate in some form of youth sports. Many play soccer, others are signed up for little league, and the list goes on. What can be done to reduce the staggering number of child sports injuries?
Much like sports, it’s a team effort. Parents, coaches, volunteers, schools/sports leagues, and the players themselves all must work together in order to mitigate the known risks that so often lead to avoidable sports injuries.
Parents should assume that bumps and bruises are going to happen in youth sports – they come with the territory. The most severe sports injuries usually happen in one of the following scenarios:
- Faulty safety equipment
- Dangerous/hazardous athletic field
- Inadequate supervision or unexperienced coaches
If you are a coach, a volunteer or a league supervisor, you have a responsibility to make sure the children’s equipment is in good working order and meets safety standards. These people are also responsible for maintaining a safe field or court. Do the players’ helmets fit properly? Has the field been cleared of hazards like tree roots and exposed sprinkler heads? These are all questions coaches and administrators must ask.
It is also important for coaches and coaching volunteers to possess adequate training in proper technique to avoid player injury, as well as basic first aid so that they can administer emergency services in the event of an injury. It can be considered negligent for a school or other athletic administration to hire a coach with little or no experience in these areas.
Sports can be an instrumental component in a child’s development. Parents and coaches alike must take the necessary precautions to make this experience a positive, and safe, one for the athletes.
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