Play It Safe on the Soccer Field

Parents, coaches should take extra steps to protect kids against injuries

SATURDAY, March 13, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Soccer season is a good time for parents to remember how to keep the young players safe from injury while they're out there scoring goals.

Every year, more than 200,000 kids under the age of 15 are treated for injuries related to soccer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet, many of those injuries can be prevented if players wear the proper safety gear and follow the rules, and if sports organizers improve the safety of goal posts, the agency says.

To prevent injuries, parents should make their children warm up and stretch before playing, and don't let them play through injuries, the agency says. The kids should also get physical exams before each soccer season, which will reveal if there are any special injury risks for a child.

Perhaps most important, though, is using the right soccer equipment. Players should wear shin guards during practice and games, as well as shoes with molded cleats or ribbed soles. Soccer leagues should consider using synthetic waterproof balls to prevent the types of injuries that can come from using waterlogged leather balls. To prevent serious injuries, parents should make sure the soccer goals are securely anchored in the ground, because they have been known to tip over during heavy winds, according to the agency.

The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation also emphasizes that coaches should have first-aid kits and ice at every game and practice to treat injuries. Coaches should also have a written emergency plan, the foundation adds.

More information

To test how safe youth sports programs are in your area, study this checklist prepared by the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Youth Sports Safety Foundation
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