There was a time when youth activity was nothing more than heading to an empty field or vacant lot with a ball and a bunch of friends for an impromptu game of baseball, football or soccer. Fast-forward to 2016, and seeing kids doing the same is a relatively rare sight.
Now is the age of organized youth sport. With organization, sports are an accessible and safe way for kids to stay active and engaged. Sports can teach useful motor skills, as well as social skills and life lessons. But for all the good that sports do, there is still the risk of injury.
Safety in youth sports is one of the most, if not the most, important considerations. Precautions should be taken to make sure a great experience doesn’t finish up in a hospital. Here are some tips to keeping your children safe this summer.
Get the Right Gear
When it comes to staying safe on the field, the right gear can make all the difference. While you don’t necessarily need to buy the most expensive equipment with all the bells and whistles, you do generally get what you pay for.
Many times, cheaper equipment has much shorter longevity than pricier equipment, actually costing you more in the long-run! This is not a time to be stingy, despite the fact that youth sports make a lot of money.
Do your research, make sure to check reviews, and spend the time making sure things like helmets, pads, and shoes are all going to do what they need to keep your child safe.
Be Aware of Medical Resources
Most sports like football, soccer, lacrosse, or hockey will have trained medical individuals ready for emergency situations. They should be easy to spot on the sidelines with their medical kits and shirts that clearly identify them as medical personnel.
Make sure you take a moment to quickly introduce yourself and ask them what they are prepared for. Different organizations will source medical personnel from different places so you can never assume that a medical individual will be prepared for all emergencies.
Some are simply volunteers with basic first aid, while others could be paramedics, all the way up to sport therapists and doctors.
It’s up to the organizers to find the medical help that is most relevant for a particular sport, but be sure to take an interest in what help is available should anything go wrong.
In an ideal world, no child would get hurt, but it’s best to plan for any eventuality. It’s better to have a medical team and not need it, than have an emergency situation and no one there to help.
Use a Safe Venue
One more step to safe youth sport is having playing surfaces with the safest possible of conditions. This means making sure soccer pitches and football fields are clear of any debris, holes, or ruts.
It’s also important to consider the dangers of outdoor weather. Storms can bring high winds and thunder which should halt any outdoor play. Strong sun can damage unprotected skin, and cold weather can bring the risk of hypothermia.
All the environmental dangers can be mitigated by having a well-kept playing surface that offers protection from dangerous weather conditions. Sport domes are one of the safest places to play any field sport, while also keeping the space and openness that outdoor fields provide.
Wherever the games end up, make sure to think about safety. Proper planning and preparation will alleviate any worry and let you focus on what matters: letting kids have a great time!