Spring is almost here, and outdoor sports season will be ramping up.
Here are some simple tips from University of Louisville Head Football Coach Bobby Petrino for keeping kids in game-ready shape and reducing the chance of injury.
Get a checkup
First and foremost, before playing organized sports, your child should receive a physical exam.
Coach Petrino’s tip: Before the first practice, inform your child’s coaches of asthma or other medical conditions that may require special attention.
Learn the signs and symptoms of dehydration and other heat-related illnesses, such as thirst, fatigue, irritability, dry mouth and feeling hot.
Norton Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville
Our pediatric orthopedic specialists treat a wide variety of conditions that affect the growing bones and muscles of children and teenagers. These range from sprains and fractures to birth defects, bone diseases, gait abnormalities, scoliosis, tumors and other disorders.
Send children to practice and games with a water bottle and encourage them to drink plenty of water before, during and after play. Encourage players to drink fluids 30 minutes before activity begins and every 15 to 20 minutes during activity.
Coach Petrino’s tip: Be sure coaches are giving mandatory water breaks throughout practice and games — don’t wait for players to tell you they’re thirsty.
Always warm up and stretch
Stretching before practices and games can release muscle tension and help prevent injuries. Players should start with about 10 minutes of jogging or light activity and stretch all major muscle groups, holding for 20 to 30 seconds.
Coach Petrino’s tip: I hear it all the time: “Can’t we skip warmups, Coach?” Never skip warming up. It’s one of the best ways to avoid injury.
Wear protective sports gear
Use the correct, properly fitting sports safety gear to prevent or reduce injuries. This may include helmets, shin guards, mouth guards, ankle braces, shoes with rubber cleats and sunscreen.
Coach Petrino’s tip: If players don’t have the correct equipment, they’ve got to sit out until they do. Safety first!
Don’t take chances with the brain: Know the signs and symptoms of concussion
Parents, coaches and players all should know the signs of a concussion. A player with a suspected concussion must be removed from play until evaluated and cleared by a medical professional.
Coach Petrino’s tip: My rule of thumb is “When in doubt, sit them out.”
Have a prepared coach
Ask your child’s coach about safety guidelines that players and parents can follow during every practice and game. That includes warmups, hydration breaks, encouraging players to sit out if injured and resting if not feeling well.Coach Petrino’s tip: Find out whether your child’s coach is certified in first aid and CPR, and whether there is a stocked first-aid kit available at all practices and games.