Safety and Youth Sports

I just completed my second season of coaching my son’s 7 and under soccer team, The Boomerangs. We had a fun year with no injuries. I never experienced a serious or minor injury during my playing days, but I did get hit in the head once during a hot box. I rubbed my head, didn’t tell my parents, but I had a bad headache for a day.

Now as an assistant baseball coach, I approach every game and practice with the anticipation that I need to keep all my players injury free. Trying to teach the basic fundamentals of baseball isn’t an easy task. How a player holds their glove, fails to catch the ball and position themselves can cause a bloody lip or a black eye. As a coach I am relieved to know that my wife is a critical care nurse and attends all of our children’s baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, and swim events.

Sports related injuries have been viewed by some as part of learning to play a sport. But does that have to be the case? States have now passed laws that are reviewing how a concussion is to be viewed and the NFL has set new standards.

Searching the internet you can find various websites that seek to promote a safe sporting experience, sites that seek to ban aluminum bats, and others that promote head gear and face protection. New technologies can preserve young fragile bones from being permanently damaged and promote an experience that creates safety and injury prevention while maintaining the athletic presence.

The STOP Sports Injuries Campaign addresses the growing epidemic of preventable youth sports injuries that are dismantling kids’ athletic hopes and dreams at an early age. The organization is supported by a growing list of “Who’s Who” in sports; Bo Jackson, Hank Aaron and Bonnie Blair.

With sports, safety awareness needs to be paramount. I had no injuries this soccer season and only a few bruises and some minor scrapes. During our pre-game drills I don’t allow any of my players to play the role of goalkeeper. At this age kids don’t have the built in reflexes to react to the ball. I did get a scare in practice as my son, Cayo, had the wind knocked out of him with the ball and a collision. I fear the line drive, the hard tackle and the head-to-head collision.

As a dugout coach my first duty is to insure that no bat is present in the dugout. Every player brings his own bat and hence thinks they have to sit next to it. “No bats in the dugout” gets repeated often. A swinging bat in the dugout should scare all coaches. Summer and baseball are one and the same, enjoy it, but don’t get hurt.

Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006