My son started his winter sport this past week participating in recreation league basketball. I got new basketball shoes for him to protect his feet and to help keep him safe on the court. We went to practice at an elementary school. The players were sliding some because the gym had not been swept. The walls at each baseline were just a few feet from the baskets. I thought to myself that this was a recipe for injury.
Sports injuries are most frequent on the list for adolescent injuries. One study shows that 65% of these injuries occur at practice. Too many teams and leagues, especially in money strapped municipalities, hand out second hand equipment, hand out equipment that does not fit or hands out equipment that is worn out.
As mentioned in my last blog, conditioning and stretching are important in preventing injury. When hot weather comes up, be careful of dehydration. Some schools now have athletic trainers on staff. This profession has grown through the 1980’s and an athletic trainer can help educate and treat the young athlete. Athletic trainers can also help keep an eye on the young athlete because young athletes tend not to report pain and problems.
The bodies of young athletes are still growing their soft tissues, brains and bones. For example, what may appear as a ligament sprain may actually be an injury to the growth plate. This can cause permanent bone growth problems. The mental state of young athletes should not be ignored. Youth suffer from emotional abuse. This comes from too much pressure from parents on their children. The parents may be living vicariously through their children or there is pressure for scholarships. Emotional abuse is very preventable.
As a parent, here are a few things you may consider: Is there a written emergency plan in case of an accident? Have there been any practice drills? Is there a first aid kit and ice at practices and games? Does the coach run warm ups including stretching? Is there a parent code of conduct?
For young athletes it is important to change sports each season. One should not specialize too early. Keep sports fun and safe and keep the kids coming back to play more.
Ted Vlahoyiannis P.T.