It’s Back To School Season! And we all know what that means – new classes, new clothing, new schedules – it’s the time of year for adjustments. Sometimes this time of year also introduces a new season of athletics, whether for your returning MVP or new coming rookie. Here are some tips for starting (or restarting) the school sports season off right.
First things first, make sure you’re covered. Safety is the number one priority. USA Today’s guide to school sports recommends, “all athletes should have a pre-participation exam to determine if their bodies are physically able to play.” For this reason, many school sports require medical authorization forms, as well as physical examination, in order to try out. Make sure to include their medical history, emergency contacts, as well as official permission to participate. This process is especially important if they were previously injured and are returning for the fall season.
Now that you are sure the athlete is ready to go, follow up to ensure a safe playing environment. Safety can make or break daily practices. Important factors, such as the school having an emergency action plan in place, specific to the athletic facilities, can provide peace of mind while your child is at practice. Make sure to inquire of the facility’s cleaning schedule – is it cleaned at least once a day? Locker rooms, gyms, and showers should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent spreading of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Make sure to explain to your young athlete the dangers of sharing things like water bottles and hairbrushes. Gym clothing and equipment should be cleaned regularly and never shared.
Next, check to make sure the gym equipment is in working order. Game equipment, such as helmets and goals should be checked to make sure they are working properly. Schools should be equipped with external defibrillators, which should be checked monthly. Last, but not least, peace of mind comes with knowing who is taking care of your athlete. All coaches and referees should have the proper credentials, required by your state or league. Additionally, they should be thoroughly prepared for the chosen emergency action plan, as well as trained for CPR and the usage of an AED. And unfortunately, even with all the proper preseason planning and preventive measures, injuries can happen. The athlete’s short and long-term health are always the ultimate priority. A great rule of thumb is “when in doubt, keep the athlete out.” And if there is concern for an injury or other sports related ailment, it is essential to seek proper evaluation, and treatment when needed, by an orthopedic surgeon and/or sports medicine specialist.
These relatively simple tips can provide not only peace of mind, but the tools you need to have a fun and successful athletic fall season!