Lowering the Risk of High School Football Injuries
By Jonathon Hardcastle
Football is a dangerous sport. Players endure bruising contact, long practices in hot weather and all sorts of unusual stresses and strains on their muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is not possible to prevent injuries in the game of football and for this reason many parents are hesitant to allow their children to participate. But the risk of injury can be minimized with cooperation between parents, doctors and coaches.
When your child comes to you and asks to try out for football, your answer should always be contingent on the results of a full medical checkup. Be sure that the doctor knows that it is a sports physical so that he or she can check for the appropriate things like joint flexibility and heart health. After your child is cleared medically, then you can move on to investigating the program and learning what safety measures are provided.
One of the most important facets of avoiding injury in any sport is maintaining proper conditioning through exercise and good nutrition. Ask your child’s potential coach how conditioning is handled. Year-round conditioning is ideal, but barring that, children should participate in appropriate conditioning programs for at least six weeks prior to the beginning of regular practices. Ask whether the coach is responsible for conditioning or if the program has a trainer that works with children.
Dehydration is a critical issue among football players since practices typically occur outdoors during the hottest part of the summer. Ask the coach what measures are taken to prevent dehydration. Know that fluid breaks should be taken about every 45 minutes and players should be allowed to drink all they want in order to keep properly hydrated. Also ask whether the coach, trainers or other personnel are certified in CPR.
Wearing protective equipment is a given, but you need to work with the coach to ensure that it fits properly. Whether or not the program requires it, your child should wear a mouth guard. Mouth guards are instrumental in preventing dental injuries and can protect against jaw and certain types of head injuries as well.
Ask what medical staff will be on hand during practices and games should an injury occur. To prepare for the worst-case scenario, consider giving the coach or trainer an emergency health care authorization letter. This letter will allow your child to be transported and treated at a hospital even if you are not there to give permission.