How to train teens to

participate safely in sports

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Increased participation in football, soccer, basketball, and other sports also leaves athletes more prone to injury, but certain good practices can help protect them from being sidelined, according to Dr. Scott Rodeo, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

•  Athletes need to stay hydrated. Water is adequate, but fluids with electrolytes are needed if athletes exercise more than 2 hours a day.

•  Make sure young athletes warm up properly to slowly increase the heart and breathing rate by doing low-intensity versions of the activity and stretching.

•  Any player who feels dizzy, light-headed, or short of breath needs to get out of the game. This is especially important if playing or practicing in hot and humid conditions.

•  Athletes can push themselves during practice, but should not go to complete exhaustion.

•  Athletes should talk to their parents or coaches if they feel they have been injured. There is no such thing as a mild concussion. Signs of a concussion include a headache, light sensitivity, appearing confused, and clumsiness. After a player is removed from a game, parents need to monitor their child at home to make sure symptoms aren’t worsening.

•  Limit weekly training time, number of repetitions, and total distance to no more than a 10% increase each week.

•  Ensure the use of proper equipment for each sport: protective equipment should be the correct size, fit well, and protect from top to bottom.

•  Players should be educated on the rules of the game: make sure they understand their role and position, as well as where to be to avoid being in harm’s way.

•  Serious injuries should be promptly evaluated and treated. Even injuries that may be considered minor should be promptly checked by a medical professional so they do not cause more serious problems later on.

•  Parents should be vigilant to signs of burnout such as athlete’s fatigue, poor academic performance, and complaints of nonspecific muscle or joint problems.

•  Keep it positive: emphasize that the focus of sports participation should be on fun, skill acquisition, sportsmanship and, above all else, safety.

•  Nutrition is important for recovery. Consume a carbohydrate bar or carbohydrate drink immediately after practice, followed by a meal one to two hours after to help maintain strength and endurance.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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