As the weather warms up, spring sports for local children will be starting in full force. The first several weeks of the spring sports season can be challenging for many of these athletes as their activity level likely declined during the winter. Most kids start the spring season without any serious practice and many of them are not in the best fitness position at the start of the season. In short, their bodies may not be fully prepared for spring sports and thus their injury risk is higher.
There are steps that can be taken by coaches, parents, and athletes to help reduce the risk of injuries as they work back into spring sports. Coaches should include an extended warm up period, especially for the first few practices, and spend more time focusing on general conditioning initially. Avoiding drills that force athletes to go at full speed during the first several practices can help reduce the risk of injury as well.
Parents can help prepare their children for the spring sports season by encouraging them to become more active during the later part of the winter. Going to an indoor pool to swim, or a trampoline park to jump for an hour is fun for the child but also starts to increase their fitness level. Parents should also monitor their child’s diet leading up to the spring sports season to ensure they are properly hydrated and have enough “good” calories to help with the early practices.
Finally, the athlete themselves needs to take an active role in injury prevention. These athletes can reduce their risk of spring sports injuries by wearing proper protective gear during practice, avoiding playing when very tired or in pain, and making warm ups and cool downs a part of their practice routine. The warm up and cool down should include stretching, light jogging, and dynamic (moving) exercises that replicate what their sport requires.
While the risk of injury can be high as children return to playing sports in the spring, steps can be taken to reduce injuries. The steps listed above will help an athlete reach his or her goal of staying healthy and having fun playing the sport they love.