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05/19/14

Camped out: Keeping kids safe during summer sports paramount

Kids play sports all year round, but the rigors and subsequent effects of those activities heighten in the summer months more so than throughout the other seasons.
One of the main reasons summer should be more concerning to parents when it comes to kids playing sports or participating in summer camps is the weather, particularly how hot and humid June through August can be, and the lingering effects it can have on children.
The hope is that most parents don't assume their kids are young and vibrant enough to not adhere to the same rules that are applicable to everyone, regardless of age. Not only is endurance in the heat taken into consideration but ways to combat injuries and getting to point that the sun and heat is doing more harm than good.
Dr. John Gallucci, Jr. is a respected and renowned physical therapist and author, who also serves as the Major League Soccer Medical Coordinator. He recently released the book "Soccer Injury Prevention & A Treatment Guide to Optimal Performance for Players and Coaches," and feel strongly about parents diligently promoting proper techniques to their children as it relates to preparation for heading outdoors for sports and even general activity.
In general, Gallucci stresses the need for the basics: hydration and properly warming up and conditioning programs that will help kids still enjoy their time outdoors. Busy parents who are jettisoning from one sporting event to another or have multiple kids playing multiple sports might not have the time or energy to stress warming up. The responsibility of parents is to make sure their kids have plenty of water wherever they go and also to instill in their children the idea that if they're injured or aren't feeling well enough to play, then it is perfectly acceptable to speak up and ask to leave the game.

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That sentiment falls in line with injuries not being disclosed, and none as pertinent as head injuries and concussions.
As far as warming up goes, that is ultimately the coaches responsibility to execute the pregame plan to perfection. And warming up goes far beyond just tossing around a baseball or kicking around a soccer ball and should include a batter of upper and lower body stretches. Far too often warming up is directly associated with practicing a particular sport, and that isn't the case. Kids need just as much stretching time as adults.
Implementing stretching, hydration or proper techniques doesn't have to water down the experience of playing sports or kids simply having fun. These are the underlying, pertinent tent poles of sports in general and will serve as safety markers so your kids can avoid injury and have the entire summer to soak in as much outdoor time as possible.

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