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Safety Tips for Junior Athletes

April 28, 2015

School’s back in session and you can almost hear the sound of the coach’s whistle blowing.  If you’re a kid active in sports, here are some important tips for making sure you stay in the game.

Ready, Set …

Before you “Go!” getting involved in a sport each season, it’s a good idea to get a complete physical with your doctor to make sure you are in the best possible shape.  Most doctors have a sports-specific physical to check you out and give you the thumbs up.

Just Wear It!

Protective gear varies with the sport you’re playing, so make sure you have the right equipment and suit up.  Check what you’ll need from your head (helmets, eye protection, mouth guards) to your feet (cleats).  And remember, it’s not just for the big game, but for practice as well.

Get into the Game

Yes, but only after you’ve warmed up!  Cold muscles are much more easily injured, so jog a little and then do some gentle stretching to lengthen your muscles and increase blood flow and muscle temperature.  Then your body will be as ready as your spirit to get into the game.

Cover Your Teammate

Safety is a team sport, so be aware of how you can protect others.  For instance, in baseball or softball, the batter who drops, rather than flings, the bat as he heads for first base is not only safe, but courteous to other players.  If you see someone’s shoe untied, give them a heads up or if you’re diving, make sure the pool is clear before you go for the big air.

Play By the Rules

In sports, it’s kind of like driving and following the laws of the road.  When everyone on the team knows and follows the rules of the game – that is, what’s legal and what isn’t – fewer injuries happen because everyone knows what to expect from one another.  Learn and understand the plays of your sport, and how you figure in the strategy, so you’ll know where you’re supposed to be, which can really help you avoid collisions.

Glug, Glug

Water and sports drinks help your body stay hydrated, which keeps you in top form and prevents you from getting dehydrated, which can make you really sick.  Remember to steer clear of caffeinated drinks and sodas.  Water is best.

Time Out!

As great as it is to be a “go-for-it” guy or girl, remember to call it quits if you’re feeling very tired or have any kind of pain or injury.  Don’t rush getting back into the game, because that’s when you can really hurt yourself.  As tempting as it can be to play or compete, be grown-up enough to know when to quit.  Be honest with parents and coaches about getting hurt and really give yourself a chance to heal so you can avoid an even greater injury.

Go Easy

Remember to have fun at sports and not get too stressed out about your performance or the outcome.  When you’re feeling tense, remember to breathe deeply into your belly. Think positively and keep negative thoughts at bay.  You will get more out of your athletics if you keep the big picture in mind and are gentle with yourself … practice makes perfect, so have fun!

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