If you get nothing else out of this blog, I want you to know that kids’ sports injuries can be prevented in the majority of cases. Some sports injuries can even be predicted.
Because more kids are participating year-around in multiple sports or specialized and participating in elite travel teams, the opportunity for injury has increased compared to a decade ago. It is up to the parent to be aware and to help prevent their kids from being placed on the injury list. The parents can start by not over scheduling, but I realize it may be too late to stop that runaway train.
To prevent injury, common sense should prevail. Here are my top five training recommendations for injury prevention:
1. Warm Up. Don’t let kids jump right into the game. A good warm-up protocol for training includes stretching and should be done before every practice and every game.
2. Wear the right equipment and make sure it fits. A kid should not be allowed on the field without the right gear. Every pad and eye protector should be in place before the coach allows the kid on the court or into the training session.
3. Be serious about pitch counts and overdoing it with overhand throws and hits. Kids will keep going until they drop – that goes for training or a real game. It’s up to the parents to do the count.
4. Be very aware that kids who play year-around sports need a break to recover from the activity. It is recommended that the kid have two days of rest every week from the sport – any sport and every sport. That means, NO training sessions either. The developing body needs rest.
5. Even after an injury and recovery , the young athlete needs to gradually return to his or her sport. Before returning to sport or training, the kid needs full range of motion of the injured part, full strength when compared to the other side, and to have maintained the endurance needed to participate for a full practice. It may take a few weeks or a few months to ease back into a sport after an injury.
But keep in mind that the majority of kids’ sports injuries can be prevented from happening in the first place.