My son competed in the national triathlon championship last week where about 5000 athletes participated in the age group event. All of these athletes were good enough to be eligible to compete. As we were watching however, we saw that many participants stopped and needed rescue during the swim event. It’s a good reminder to make sure you receive a physical exam before you compete in vigorous activities, and be aware that conditions might be different in different locations, such as swimming in a large body of water - Lake Erie, is different than swimming in an inland lake. Here are some general thoughts to think about.
• Before you participate in strenuous athletic events be sure that you are healthy enough to compete. If you are over forty years of age you should consult with your physician before you participate in strenuous sports. Before participating in practice or in an event you should warm up with mild exercise and stretching from five minutes to 15 minutes.
• Review the rules with the other participant(s) to ensure that everyone is following the same rules and consequences for breaking those rules.
• Follow those rules; they are for the player’s safety and to provide steady flow to the sport.
• Wear proper fitting clothes. “HAND ME DOWNS” might be okay if they fit properly and maintain the protective properties needed for safe play.
• Walk the playing field before the event and look for rocks, holes, loose glass - anything that could cause injury.
• In warm weather, drink plenty of water or fluids with electrolytes in them to remain hydrated before, during, and after the activity. Even if you don't feel thirsty, you still might need to drink more fluids to actually be hydrated enough.
• Make sure you use proper technique to avoid injury and to get the best out of your actions.
Annually, more than 775,000 youth between the ages of five and 14 receive care at medical facilities for sports related injuries.
• Make sure your child’s fitness level is appropriate for the chosen activity.
• A physical exam by a physician or at least a discussion with the child’s physician is a good idea before participation in a formal sports program.
• Make sure your child wears the basic, appropriate equipment of the game, including safety gear.
• Be sure that all the equipment fits properly and is in full repair.
• Remember that the real purpose of the youth sport is to:
1. Give youth a meaningful activity 2. Give them a healthy activity 3. Give them some social and physical interaction with friends.
4. Teach them basic sports skills.
• Coaches and parents must keep these things in mind during practice and games so that the young athlete isn’t over worked physically, pressured mentally, and burned out athletically at a young age - possibly at his/her first practice or game.