• May 27, 2020

STONE: Is your child game ready? - Odessa American: Levi Stone

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STONE: Is your child game ready?

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Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2020 4:30 am

Spring is around the corner and, for many parents, this means getting kids ready for outdoor sports activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates approximately 38 million children and adolescents participate in some form of organized sports. Rich in sports history and tradition, the Permian Basin is certainly no exception. Warmer temperatures and abundant sunshine have replaced the wintry solitude of shorter days and colder weather. With this, the chorus of sports activities resonates throughout the parks, fields, and courts of west Texas. For parents, our “Spring Training” of multi-tasking, organized chaos, and feverishly shuffling kids from school to practice has arrived.

We certainly know the benefits of organized sports and the lifelong impact it has on a child. Confidence, leadership, teamwork, and physical activity are prime examples sports play in the development of our youth. All sports do, however, have inherent health risks, notably injuries that parents, coaches, and players should be mindful of. Preventing injury is key and the following interventions will help mitigate potential risks to insure your child stays in the game and off the sidelines:

Get a Sports Physical

Sports physicals are rather inexpensive, can be easily obtained, and can identify any underlying health conditions you may not have been aware of. A thorough assessment, by your pediatrician, family physician, or nurse practitioner will insure your child is cleared to play sports.

CPR and First Aid

It’s preferred coaches have some basic level of understanding how to respond to emergencies that CPR and First Aid training can provide. Coaches have an obligation to protect their players and are entrusted by parents to follow through in safeguarding their children during practice and games. Engage your child’s coach by asking them questions about safety and what measures are in place…both in games and especially during practices. Parents and coaches may not be familiar in recognizing signs of a concussion and when to keep young athletes from returning to play. To improve care for young athletes, the CDC has published educational “Heads Up” toolkits for parents, coaches and teachers.

Hydration

Children are more prone to heat related illness than most parents. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water before, during, and after physical activities.  Signs such as nausea, dizziness, or elevated temperature are obvious signs of dehydration. Don’t wait for your child to state they are thirsty, continual fluids are key to remain hydrated. Sugary-based drinks, particularly carbonated sodas, are not preferred or effective to maintain adequate hydration. Stick with water and the occasional sports drink (i.e. Gatorade, Powerade, etc.).

Dress Appropriately

Most sports related injuries occur during practices, rather than games. Wearing the appropriate gear for the respective sport is crucial. Protective gear is more than pads and helmets and begins with the basics, such as proper clothing and uniform attire. Most leagues, regardless of sport, will have mandatory guidelines for adhering to equipment standards aimed at protecting players. This is another opportunity to discuss what equipment is necessary with your child’s coach. Children should have access to and consistently use the appropriate gear necessary for each respective sport. One basic item, often overlooked is sunscreen. Some personal advice….after 14 years under the sun, playing baseball you WILL develop sun damaged skin and possibly skin cancer. Lather your kids up heavily in sunscreen!!!

Take a Break

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children take at least one day of from organized physical activity each week and at least two to three months off from a particular sport per year to avoid burnout and injuries sustained from repetitive over-training. With the development of year-round “select” teams in various sports, many kids play one sport exclusively greatly increasing the prevalence of these types of injuries. Parents should understand the risk of potential permanent physical damage by engaging in such practices and weigh the risks versus the rewards. One sobering fact is the odds of a child becoming a professional athlete are 1 in about 17,000. 

Now that you’ve covered the bases in protecting your kids, get out there and cheer them on….even if it is them preferring to draw in the dirt over fielding ground balls.

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Odessa, TX

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