January 31, 2015

Mostly cloudy

Kids can play safe when participating in sports

GirlSoccerThe spring sports season is a popular time for school-aged children. After a few months of being cooped up indoors, many kids are ready to spend time in the fresh air. Organized team sports are one way they can burn energy and learn lessons in camaraderie and problem-solving.

Spring sports season presents a host of opportunities for athletic youngsters. But the secret to a successful season has little to do with wins and losses and a lot to do with making sure children have fun and take the necessary precautions to reduce their risk of injury on the playing field.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, nearly 40 million children and adolescents participate in organized sports across North America each year. Although sports are an ideal way to socialize and get much-needed exercise, they also can increase participants’ risk of suffering a sports-related injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that millions of children age 15 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries every year. Some of the more common injuries include sprains and strains, growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and heat-related illness.

Certain sports go hand-in-hand with the spring season. Here is a look at some popular spring sports and how to reduce a child’s risk of suffering some of the more common injuries associated with those sports.



The start of the spring season coincides with the commencement of the professional baseball season. Therefore, many schools and towns have baseball and softball leagues that also begin once the weather warms up. Baseball and softball are popular sports. However, each sport involves sliding, running, fast-moving balls, and long hours out in the elements. Each of these activities can cause injury, and some of the more common injuries associated with baseball and softball include soft tissue strains, fractures after being hit by a ball, sunburn and heat fatigue.

Children who are playing baseball or softball should always wear the recommended safety equipment. This includes a batting helmet, shin guards, athletic supporters, sunscreen, mouth guards, and eye protection. Proper stretching and warm-ups can make muscles and tendons limber before play.



Soccer has long been a popular sport around the world, and interest in the sport has grown considerably in the United States. Soccer is ideal for developing hand-eye coordination. The constant running involved also makes it one of the best spring sports for kids in terms of overall exercise.

Due to the constant movement involved with soccer, players should regularly rehydrate. Shin guards can prevent injuries and bruising to the legs, while wearing sunscreen will protect kids from sun exposure.



Lacrosse is a game that marries elements of basketball, football and hockey. Players throw and catch a small, hard, rubber ball with a netted stick, called a crosse.

Lacrosse is a contact sport; therefore, protective gear is essential to prevent injury. Players must wear helmets, typically with a safety grill over the face for boys. A mouthpiece, gloves and padding can be worn to further prevent injuries.


Track and Field

Some athletes excel in track and field. Although less combative than other sports discussed and with little or no risk of contact-related injury, there are still some dangers inherent to track and field. Strains and sprains from falls or rolling ankles are common.

Safety precautions for track and field competitors revolve heavily around the athlete’s conditioning. Allow for ample warm-up periods and make sure athletes always wear supportive footwear. Players should always consume a good deal of water or other fluids to remain hydrated, and take sufficient breaks when the weather is warm.

Spring sports are popular for children of all ages. When the weather warms, the desire to get out on the field and engage in play increases. Adults can safeguard their children by ensuring the rules of the game are met and that the proper safety equipment is always used.