Young athletes play with an attitude that broadcasts invincibility. They kick, tumble, and dodge their way to a goal, paying no mind to potential broken bones or gashed knees. Their tenacity is admirable – and stressful for their sideline-bound parents! Kids who give their all on the field are often subject to the scrapes and breaks that come part and parcel with Injuries are nearly impossible to avoid in youth sports, but parents can take steps to lessen their frequency and severity. Here, I outline a few tips that may lessen the stress for parents and young athletes alike.
Establish an open and honest line of communication
Every parent knows that getting more than a monosyllable out of kid after school lets out can be difficult. Children – especially preteens – don’t always like to share information about what goes on in their daily lives. The lack of communication can be frustrating for all parents, but it’s downright worrisome for those of young athletes. Kids who do sports need to tell their coaches and parents when they feel pain; not doing so can lead to irreparable injury if the hurt is left unchecked and untreated. To circumvent this, parents should encourage open communication and build a healthy rapport with their children around the subject of sports.
Make warm-ups non-negotiable
Dance, football, swim: no matter your sport, warming up is a must. Athletes need to stretch and warm their muscles before they start practice, else they risk overtaxing their muscles and injuring themselves. Given that young athletes are still growing, skipping a warm-up routine can be even more damaging for kids than it might otherwise be for adults. Always enforce the warm-up, even if the team wants to leap into the game!
Make sure they’re getting adequate shut-eye
Every athlete needs a good night’s sleep to thrive. Without proper rest, the body’s stamina levels drop dramatically, thereby increasing the risk of on-field exhaustion or injury. Encourage your child to rest after game days and practices! They need the time to recover more than you might think.
Water, water, water
Every athlete knows that staying hydrated is vital to performance, especially during the summertime. Not drinking adequate amounts of water can ultimately lead to lessened performance, exhaustion, and even fainting. Make sure that you have water and electrolytes on-hand during sporting events to ensure that your child stays hydrated!
Underscore the importance of executing proper techniques
A young athlete is only as good as the techniques that they use. When it comes to sports, there is very little margin for error. A technical mistake in form or stance could do serious harm to a young athlete, so it’s vital that they learn and practice proper technique.