A Kid’s Guide to Preventing Sports Injuries (Parents Can Read Too)
Sports are fun! That’s the main reason we love them, of course. But it’s not the only reason. There are lots of awesome reasons to play sports:
- They help you grow up healthy and strong
- They teach you about hard work, sportsmanship, and teamwork
- You can make lots of friends!
Stay active all year longKids need a lot of exercise and activity throughout the year in order to stay healthy and strong. If you haven’t been getting a lot of exercise lately and then try out for a sport or join a team, it might take your body a few weeks to get used to the change. During that time, you are more likely to hurt yourself. We don’t want to discourage you from enjoying less active hobbies like music, writing, or playing games. Those are all great too! But all kids need to enjoy some healthy exercise throughout the year, even if it’s just playing with friends outside, or going for long walks or jogs. If you stay active during the off-season, it will be much easier (and more fun!) when you do join a team.
Try a few different sportsDo you really, really, really love one specific sport? You play on your school team. You play in the yard or at the playground with friends every day after school. You go to camps in the summer. That’s great! It’s important to find something that you love. But you know what else is important, especially for kids? Trying a lot of new things. Soccer might be your favorite, but maybe you want to give basketball a try, or take a tennis class in summer. Why is it so important to play more than one sport? Here are a few reasons:
- You never know if you’re going to like something unless you try it! Maybe you’ll like your new sport just as much as the old one. Maybe you’ll like it even more!
- Playing more than one sport can actually make you better at both sports than just sticking with one! Different sports exercise and challenge your body and brain in new and different ways. So, learning a new sport can make you better at the old one!
- Different kinds of sports stress your body in different ways. This gives certain muscle groups and joints a bit of a “break” while you focus on other muscle groups and skills. You’re less likely to get hurt that way!
The right equipment is importantNever play a sport without the right safety gear. We know it isn’t always fun to wear a cup, or shin guards, or mouth guards. But they are there for a reason! When they protect you from getting hurt during practice or a game, you will be glad you have them! It’s also very important to have the right pair of shoes or cleats for your sport. This is something your parents might not even be aware of, so be sure to have them read this blog if they don’t believe you!
- You should have your own pair of cleats or shoes, not a used pair from an older sibling or friend. Re-used shoes can hurt your feet, or even give you athlete’s foot. Yuck!
- Your shoes or cleats need to fit properly. If they are too small and pinching your feet, or they just aren’t comfortable, you need a different pair.
- Your shoes or cleats need to be made just for that sport. In other words, you should not wear soccer cleats when you play baseball, or baseball cleats when you play football.
Don’t burn yourself outAdults have probably already told you all about the importance of exercise. It is important! But they might not have told you that getting enough rest is equally important. Activity makes you stronger, but only if you give your body time to recover. Otherwise it just makes you hurt! Here’s how you can get enough rest:
- Take regular breaks during practice and games. Drink lots of water as you play.
- Take at least 2 full days off per week from any organized playing, practicing, or training during the season.
- Take at least 2 full months off per year from playing or training. (This could be two 1-month breaks at different times of the year.) You can still be active, but stick to “easy” stuff like riding your bike or playing outdoors.
- Don’t play on more than one team at a time, unless there is only a very small amount of overlap in the seasons. We know it stinks to have to choose between two sports that you enjoy, but it’s hard to get enough rest and recovery time if you’re playing on multiple teams at a time. Not only are you more likely to hurt yourself, but the time commitment can make it difficult to focus on schoolwork and other important aspects of growing up.