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Sports safety: not just for the home stretch

Published On: Oct 25 2011 03:50:10 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 21 2012 03:13:49 PM CDT
sports balls, baseball, football, basketball

iStock / jropelato1

(NewsUSA) - You know that your child should wear safety equipment for the big game. But do you practice equal vigilance at your child's practice? If you don't, you're not alone. According to Safe Kids USA, 33 percent of parents take more safety precautions for games, even though 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries happen at practice.

There's no doubt that sports benefit kids. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that every child participate in sports or another activity that promotes physical activity. So what can parents do to make practices safer? Here are some tips:

* Make sure your child is healthy enough to play sports in the first place. Children should receive sports physicals before signing up for any sport.

* Make sure that practice facilities are safe. For example, ask your school to make the gymnasium less slippery. Some companies are actually designing floor cleaners that increase slip-resistance. For example, Traction-Pak from PAK-IT (www.pakit.com) cleans and polishes floors while also creating a non-slip surface.

As slips and falls are a major cause of injury in schools, cleaning hallways and cafeteria, as well as gyms, with a slip-resistant floor cleaner is an easy way to improve overall safety.

* Make sure kids wear the proper safety equipment for their sport. Equipment should fit well and look well maintained. And children should wear the same equipment for practice as they do at games.

* Don't allow your child to overtrain. In the past, child athletes played different sports each season. Now, children face pressure to choose one sport and play it all year, leading to overuse and repetitive-motion injuries, such as pitcher's elbow. Encourage children to try different sports and, if they only want to play one, have them try different positions.

* Keep kids fueled. Overexertion and dehydration also pose problems on the practice field. Provide healthy snacks, and make sure that kids drink enough water. In hot weather, coaches should give children frequent breaks.

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