Sport activities are great for kids’ physical and emotional development. Any sport will bring some risk of injury, but according to WebMD, the majority of school sports injuries are minor.
However, keep in mind that children are at greater risk for injury than adults because they are still growing, leaving their muscles, bones, and ligaments more vulnerable. An accident that might cause only minor injuries in an adult could be serious for a child.
Experts offer this advice for coaches and parents to minimize the risk of child injury:
- Group kids by weight, height and skill – not strictly by age. Smaller children may strain to try to keep up. In addition, some sport teams will also sort by level of aggression and competitiveness. Some girls and boys naturally want to compete and take the lead, while other children have less combative natures.
- Use appropriate protective gear and make sure kids know how to make them fit and use them properly.
- Never push any child into a sport – they may be uncomfortable playing that activity or even physically incapable of competing in that type of sport.
- Don’t encourage children who are injured to “work through the pain.” Also, don’t urge an ill child to play when he or she is feeling tired or weak.
- Impose off-season rests – playing different types of sports during a year is okay, but children need a 10-week continuous rest from any particular sport. Overuse injuries can also occur when a child plays one sport several times a week for long hours; or engages in two sports in the same season that use the same muscles.
Also, be sure to encourage kids to drink from their water bottles before, during, and after practice. It helps to stay hydrated, and water breaks provide a nice moment to rest during a game.