Ensuring sports safety on and off the playing field
Ellen Satlof, NATA
214-637-6282, ext. 159
ENSURING SPORTS SAFETY ON AND OFF THE PLAYING FIELD
Timely Tips to Ensure Youth Athletes are Prepared for Play
DALLAS, August 29, 2007 – With the start of fall sports now in full swing and children returning to school, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association has issued timely guidelines to ensure sports safety.
“Only 42 percent of secondary schools have access to athletic trainers,” said NATA President Chuck Kimmel, ATC. “Since athletic trainers are often the first responders when an athlete goes down on the playing field, and they help to prevent and rehabilitate injuries, it is critical to establish guidelines to keep our young athletes safe and in good physical shape.”
“Schools and sports teams should always have an emergency plan in place and implement a comprehensive athletic health care program including injury prevention, education and treatment,” said Brian Robinson, MS, ATC, chair of NATA’s Secondary School Athletic Trainers’ Committee. “It’s critical to have these elements approved and continually reviewed as part of an overall sports safety protocol.”
NATA recommends the following tips for parents, coaches, medical professionals and athletes:
1. Pre-participation Exam: Children participating in sports should receive a general health exam prior to activity to make sure they are fit to play. Discuss any pre-existing conditions with the physician.
2. Emergency Plan: Develop a written emergency plan in consultation with the local emergency medical service. Review it regularly and share it with the appropriate team, school and medical professionals.
3. Appropriate Safety Gear: Make sure to read manufacture instructions for proper use and fit. It is especially important that masks, gloves, pads, guards and other gear fit snuggly for best protection. Equipment should be inspected on a regular basis to ensure proper fit, that it is in good condition and meets national standards.
4. Preconditioning and Training: Coaches, athletic trainers and parents should ensure that children are physically and mentally conditioned, properly trained in a particular sport or activity and matched with children of similar skill level, weight and maturity.
5. Facility Safety Inspections: Remove debris, water, rocks and other hazards from the field, rink or court. If playing outdoors, adults must consider current and potential weather conditions (e.g. lightning) as part of their inspection. Inspect all regular equipment (goals, baskets, nets) on a regular basis and make sure the items meet standards for play.
6. First Aid: Stock a first aid kit and keep it on-site for medical emergencies. Include supplies for wound management and bee stings, such as elastic wraps and band aids, an ice/cold compress, medical tape and sterile solution, among other items.
7. Adult Supervision/Trained Sports Staff: Children should be supervised at all times on the playing field by a parent, coach, certified athletic trainer or other medical professional.
8. Proper Hydration: Establish a hydration plan that allows children to drink water or sports drinks such as Gatorade throughout exercise sessions (about 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes). Children should hydrate before AND after activity. Without proper hydration, children are at risk of developing exertional heat related illnesses.
9. Beat the Heat: If young athletes are exercising in the heat, make sure to assess their fitness before participation. Acclimatize them to the warm weather conditions. Start activities slowly and build endurance. If an athlete doesn’t feel well, stop activity and assess his or her fitness status before return to play.
10. Eat to Win: Incorporate healthy foods in the daily diet including grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat/poultry/fish to give them the fuel they need to exercise. A balanced and moderate approach is always the best bet.
11. Proper Warm Up, Flexibility and Cool Down: Always warm up before activity, take rest breaks, and cool down and stretch after play. To avoid overuse injuries, players should not participate with more than one sports team at a time.
Parents, coaches and athletic trainers should instruct and practice proper techniques and be alert to injuries, added Robinson. “Our primary goal is to prevent injury, and these recommendations will not only help to reduce onset, but ensure that proper plans are in place if medical care is needed.” For more information on youth sports and sports safety, please visit http://www.nata.org/youthsports/index.htm.
Athletic trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. NATA advocates for equal access to athletic trainers for athletes and patients of all ages, and supports H.R. 1846. www.nata.org. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282 (phone); 214.637.2206 (fax).