According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 448,000 football-related injuries occur to children and teenagers under age 15 each year. Twenty percent of high school football players sustain mild to severe traumatic brain injuries, and players with brain injuries are six times as likely to sustain new injuries.
To protect your child form injuries on the gridiron, making sure they use appropriate protective equipment is the best place to start. Necessary equipment includes:
- Shoulder pads, hip pads, tail pads and knee pads
- Pants (one piece or shell)
- Thigh guards
- Athletic supporter
- Mouth guard with keeper strap: Mouth guards do more than protect teeth. They protect lips, cheeks and the tongue from being cut or bruised. They also reduce the chances of jawbone fractures by absorbing the energy of blows to the face.
- Shoes: Your child can wear sneakers or non-detachable, rubber-cleated shoes. Detachable cleats of a soft composition also are allowed in some leagues. Check with your child’s coach about the type of shoes allowed in their league.
- If your child must wear eyeglasses, they should be approved glasses with non-shattering safety glass. Contact lenses can be worn alternatively.
- Make sure equipment is age- and size-appropriate and in good condition. Learn more about the National Operating Committe on Standards for Athletic Equipment certification.
In addition to using proper equipment, your child should also follow general injury prevention guidelines. Take the following steps to ensure your child’s safety:
- Have your child get a physical examination before each season.
- Make sure our child is in proper physical condition to play football. They should train and participate in conditioning practices before each season.
- Make sure the head coach has the appropriate qualifications.
- Make sure the coach is aware of any medical conditions your child may have.
- Ensure that there is a person certified in CPR and first aid present for all games and practices.
- Encourage your child not to use steroids. Steroids have been shown to increase muscle mass, but can cause serious life-threatening complications.
- Teach your child the rules of the sport.
- Encourage you child to let the coach know when they are hurt.
- Remind your child to warm up before playing and cool down afterwards to prevent muscle pulls and tendon ruptures.
- Make sure our child drinks enough water or sport drink before, during and after all games and practices.