It’s important to make a plan to help prevent sports injuries for the kids involved in your youth baseball and softball programs.
Youth baseball programs offer a great outlet for kids to get up and move. Beyond more obvious physical benefits, studies also show a correlation between sports participation and positive mental health, too.
So, it’s no surprise that many families opt into sports, with 57% of children playing an organized sport, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Youth baseball and softball make up a portion of these injuries, with about 110,000 children between ages 5 and 14 treated in the emergency room for sports injuries, according to StandfordChildrens.org.
Common youth baseball injuries include:
- Little league elbow and little league shoulder (Overuse conditions caused by repeated stress on these areas of the body.)
- Ankle sprains and concussions
- Muscle strains and general overuse injuries
Many youth baseball injuries can be avoided with simple actions taken to improve attention to the athlete's needs.
Kids need time off. Parents and coaches should recognize that kids need at least 1 day a week away from the organized sport, and 1 month each year where it’s not being played, according to Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Douglas Magan in his USAToday.com article. Players should wear the right protective gear, and practice and use proper technique while playing.
Increasing muscle strength and flexibility as part of their fitness routine is also important to avoiding injury. Also, just because it’s not a game does not mean it’s OK to be more relaxed on sports injury prevention! In fact, according to the USAToday article, 62 percent of injuries occur during practice.
If an acute injury — one that happens suddenly, such as breaks or fractures or torn muscles and ligaments — does occur, allow that injury proper rest to heal - or it can turn into a big deal.
Consider Jackson, a 10-year-old who’s been playing youth baseball since he was 5 years old. As his season starts up in late February, he’s excited to get back into the game. He hasn’t been too active in any physical routine since the end of last season. This means his muscle strength and flexibility are not at their peak.
At his second practice, he twists to grab a fly ball and feels it in his ankle. After getting rid of the ball, he runs to his coach to ask for a break. “Shake it off, it’s just practice,” he’s told.
This small statement may seem harmless, but it unfortunately all-too-often makes matters worse.
Kids need time to prevent a situation like this from turning into an injury, and should not be told to “play through the pain.” It’s important to decide on your team’s approach to implementing both proactive prevention measures as well as an injury response plan and to communicate that to your team and the parents.
“I can tell you that most of the injury cases I treat could have been prevented if the young athlete was given ample time to rest and heal,” said Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Douglas Magan in his USAToday.com article.
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