How to Protect Teens From Football Injuries

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Football is one of the most popular sports in America – and it’s the leading cause for school related sports injuries. While all sports carry some form of risk, football can be especially dangerous for players. Joint injuries and concussions are common, and over-exertion and dehydration can lead to serious medical complications.

However, it’s possible to reduce the risk of injury through proper preparation on the part of athletes and supervisors. Schools and coaches especially have a responsibility to keep student athletes in their care safe from harm. Following these guidelines can help protect teens from potential football injuries.

Fully Prepare for Play

The best way to avoid injuries from strain is for teen athletes to maintain physical fitness both during and outside of the play season. If students are out of shape when returning to play at the beginning of the season, then they should gradually build their activity level back up rather than participating at full blast from the start. Attending a pre-season physical can help determine if a player is ready for the game and catch any potential conditions that may limit play.

At both practice and games, football players should stretch before and after activity. Warm-up stretches help your body prepare for activity and prevents the risk of injury associated with cold muscles. While it may seem less important to cool down, players still need to stretch after practice to help reduce soreness.

Stay Hydrated

During athletic activity, the human body sweats to cool itself down from the strain. When football players don’t say hydrated, it can impact their performance. There’s also the risk of complications that arise from dehydration and overheating.

Athletes should drink at least 24 ounces of caffeine-free fluid two hours before exercising, then eight more ounces right before exercise. During activity, athletes should break for eight ounces of water at least every twenty minutes.

Wear Proper Safety Equipment

In a contact sport like football, wearing the appropriate safety equipment is essential to preventing injury. Before play, all players should have the appropriate protective gear:

  • Helmet
  • Shoulder, hip, tail, and knee pads
  • Pants
  • Thigh guards
  • Jersey
  • Mouth guard with keeper strap
  • Athletic supporter

When it comes to shoes, different football leagues require certain types. Teen athletes should always wear the appropriate shoes with the right type of cleats. For players that wear glasses, the glass should be non-shattering. Alternatively, the player can substitute glasses for contact lenses during play.

Stay Prepared for Injuries

Even when players follow all safety precautions, injuries can still happen – and proper medical treatment is essential to minimize the impact of damage on an athlete. Coaches should all have knowledge of basic first aid and should be able to administer care for cuts, bruises, and minor strains and sprains if necessary.

If a greater injury occurs, such as a concussion, fracture, dislocation, or an abrasion, coaches should have an emergency plan ready. Aside from identifying the injury, the coach should contact medical personnel for help.

No matter what type of injury a player sustains, coaches have the responsibility to prevent teens from engaging in further play that may worsen the damage. If players wish to return to the game after an injury, they must show no symptoms of injury. Joint issues must have a full range of motion and strength with no pain or swelling. A player that has suffered from a concussion must receive clearance to play from a medical professional.

Coaches have a responsibility to observe proper safety procedures during practice and games, and they should also teach their players to do the same. When everyone is on the same page, teen athletes can safely participate in sports – without having to worry about the impact of injury on their lives.