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Many parents are shopping for new school supplies, backpacks and back to school clothes, but many are shopping for athletic gear to keep their children protected form injury. Parents and students are also gearing up for the fall sports season and hoping that they will make it through the season injury free. Focused middle school and high school athletes have been conditioning all summer, and now getting ready for competitive play. Their young, growing bodies are more susceptible to injury. MSNBC reported “Back to school means back to organized sports for more than 30 million children and teenagers – and roughly 2.5 million emergency room visits during the year for resulting injuries.”
In 2008, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, football was the leading cause of injury (1,024,022 injuries), followed by soccer (368,726 injuries), cheerleading (75,308 injuries) and gymnastics (67,542 injuries). To help your child with an injury free season, encourage them to be physically active during the summer months and condition as age appropriate. Those children and teenagers who suddenly decide to join a sport after being idle during the summer months are especially prone to injuries.
Once your young athlete begins playing, make sure their equipment meets and is maintained according to the approval guidelines that govern each sport. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) sets many of the standards for helmets, face masks, shin guards and other safety gear designed to help protect athletes. If your child comes home with equipment that is broken or poorly maintained make sure you ask for a replacement.
You can also talk to the coaching staff to make sure they are qualified and have the best interests of his players in mind. Highly competitive coaches or coaches with unrealistic expectations of his team, may lead to an increase in injuries. Being a part of an athletic team is so much more than just having a winning season. The players should have fun, as well as learn to play and cooperate with others from different walks of life and different athletic abilities. Be supportive, be involved and have fun from the sidelines.
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