The benefits of youth sports and exercise far outweigh the risks, health experts say. And there are a number of things parents can do to help prevent injuries. For starters, look for a sport or exercise program that’s a match for your child’s ability and interests, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests. Enroll children in organized sports with properly maintained facilities. Make sure coaches are trained in first aid and CPR, and have a plan for responding to emergencies. Coaches should also be experienced in the proper use of equipment and enforce rules on equipment use, the agency advised in a news release. Parents should know that some organized sports programs include adult staff who are certified athletic trainers who know how to prevent, recognize and provide immediate care for sports injuries, according to the NIH.
- Children should always use proper safety gear for their sport. They should also know and follow the safety rules.
- Before and after exercise, warm-ups and cool-downs should be mandatory.
- Kids should have access to water or sports drinks, and should drink frequently to stay properly hydrated.
- Sunscreen and a hat (when possible) should be used to reduce the risk of sunburn.