From varsity track to travel soccer to peewee baseball, athletes of all ages and sizes have been hard at work getting their game on during this year’s spring sports season.
Kids everywhere are on the move: In 2017, 56.5 percent of children ages 6-12 played at least one team sport, while the 7.98 million participants in high school sports last school year marked a record high.
With that many student-athletes on the go, the risk of injury or illness is always present. In fact, more than 3.5 million children 14 and younger get hurt annually participating in sports or recreational activities, while last school year saw 1.3 million high school sports injuries.
Following these basic health and smart sports tips can help every athlete have a healthy spring sports season.
- See a doctor. Schedule a physical at the beginning and end of each sporting season
- Stay hydrated. Kids overheat more quickly than adults. Avoid everything from fatigue to heatstroke by drinking plenty of water a few hours before an activity and taking regular water breaks during it
- Eat right. Your body gets energy from food, so follow a balanced diet and limit processed and sugary food that can affect your performance
- Warm up, cool down. Before and after every game and practice, take a five- to 10-minute walk or jog and be sure to stretch
- Maintain your equipment. No matter the sport, pay attention to the condition of your gear throughout the season. Shabby, broken equipment can affect your game and could hurt you or others
- Watch for growth spurts. Growth spurts can affect a player’s balance and coordination, and could lead to injury. Ill-fitting footwear can do the same
- Don’t play through pain. Pain is a warning sign. Athletes should have their symptoms checked to avoid more serious injury