Sports and Recreation Safety

Did You Know?
  • More than 46.5 million children participate in sports each year in the United States.
  • One in three children who plays a team sport is injured seriously enough to miss practice or games.
  • Girls are up to eight times more likely to have an ACL injury than boys
  • Most organized sports-related injuries (62 percent) occur during practice rather than in games.
  • The most common types of sports-related injuries among children are sprains, muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries and heat-related illness.

It is important for children to stay active and have fun.  We want kids to excel in sports and love the simple pursuit of play. One of the most important ways to promote this is to reduce the number of kids being sidelined from sports-related injuries. That’s why we’ve developed easy-to-use tools to help parents, coaches and young athletes understand common sports injuries and how to prevent them.

Prepare Kids for the Demands of Playing a Sport

  • Make sure your child receives a pre-participation physical exam, or PPE, by a doctor.
  • In case of an emergency, share contact information (phone numbers, doctor information and allergy information) with your athlete’s coaches.
  • If your athlete has medical conditions that require special attention, meet with the coach before the first practice.

Warm Up and Stretch Before Games and Practices

  • Stretching before practice and games can release muscle tension and help prevent sports-related injuries, such as muscle tears or sprains.
  • Warm up before every practice and game.
  • Kids should warm up with about 10 minutes of jogging or any light activity, and then stretch all major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

Remember to Hydrate
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of dehydration and other forms of heat illness.
  • Encourage children to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after play.
  • Encourage your athletes to drinks fluids (water is the best option) 30 minutes before the activity begins and every 15-20 minutes during activity.

Wear Appropriate Sports Gear

  • Having kids wear the appropriate and properly-fitted sports gear during practice and games can help avoid minor and serious injuries
  • Make sure athletes have the right equipment and are wearing it for both practices and games.

Don't Take Chances with the brain: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Concussions

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion. This information is important for coaches, parents and athletes.
  • A player with a suspected concussion must be immediately sidelined until evaluated and released by a medical professional.
  • A good rule of thumb: when in doubt, sit them out.

Make Rest a Priority and avoid Overuse

  • To help avoid overuse injury, rest all players during practices and games.
  • Encourage players to communicate any pain, injury or illness they may have during or after any practices or games.
  • Kids should have at least one or two days off from any particular sport each week.
  • An off-season is important, too. It is recommended that kids get 10 consecutive weeks of rest from any one sport every year. Playing different sports throughout the year is OK.

Be a Prepared Coach
  • Establish safety guidelines that athletes and parents can follow during every practice and game such as: hydration breaks, having injured players sit out, having a proper warm-up.
  • Get certified in first aid and CPR and have a stocked first aid kit handy at all practices and games.
  • Coaches should consider adding to their sports skills and knowledge with free sports safety training at a Safe Kids Sports Safety Clinic.
  • Mandatory fluid breaks during practice and games are a great idea – don’t wait for your athletes to tell you they’re thirsty.

Be a Supportive Parent

  • Learn ways to help your child stay injury free and healthy while playing sports.
  • Attend a sports safety clinic in your area. These clinics, such as ones held by Safe Kids across the United States, provide coaches and parents with ways to keep young athletes healthy and injury free throughout their sporting careers.

Additional Resources

Sports Safety Infographic

Sports Safety Checklist for Parents

Sports Safety Checklist for Parents (Spanish)

Dehydration Safety Tip Sheet

Dehydration Safety Tip Sheet (Spanish)

Concussion Guideline for Parents

Concussion Guideline for Parents (Spanish)

Sports Overuse Injury Guide

Sports Overuse Injury Guide (Spanish)

Find an Indiana Safe Kids Coalition near you