Sports Safety - Prevention

Safety gear and equipment

Safety gear should be sport-specific and may include such items as goggles, mouthguards, shin-elbow-knee pads, and helmets. The safety gear worn by a child should fit properly. In addition, sports equipment (such as bats, baskets, and goals) should be in good working condition and any damage should be repaired or replaced. The playing area should be free from debris and water.

Physical checkup

To make sure your child is physically fit to participate in a particular sport, your child's doctor should conduct a "sports physical." These physicals can reveal your child's physical strengths and weaknesses and help determine which sports are appropriate. Most sports physicals for children include a health examination that measures height, weight, and vital signs, as well as check eyes, nose, ears, chest, and abdomen. In addition, your child's doctor may perform an orthopedic examination to check joints, bones, and muscles.


Starting a child in sports too young will not benefit the child physically. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children begin participating in team sports at age 6, when they better understand the concept of teamwork. However, no two children are alike, and some may not be ready physically or psychologically to take part in a team sport even at age 6. A parent should base his or her decision on whether to allow the child to take part in a particular sport based on the following:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Build
  • Physical development
  • Emotional development
  • Child's interest in the sport

Ability to understand the complexity of the activity Note: AAP recommends that late-developing teens avoid contact sports until their bodies have developmentally "caught up" to their peers' bodies.

Examples: Can your child start ice hockey?

  1. Can thy skate on ice
  2. Can they skate with all required equipment?
  3. Are they coordinated enough to hit the puck with their stick?
  4. Can they understand the rules of the game?
  5. Does the child mind falling on ice and get cold?

The importance of hydration

As your child participates in sports, he or she will sweat. This sweat must be replaced with equal amounts of fluids therefore, you need to know your sweat rate. (see attached sheet) Your child should drink fluids before, during, and after each practice or game. To avoid stomach cramps from drinking too much  fluids at once, encourage your child to drink (or a type of sports drink) every 15 to 20 minutes to replace sweat loss. Drinks to avoid include those with carbonation and caffeine. The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Thirstiness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Slight weight loss

If your child exhibits signs of dehydration, make sure he or she receives fluids immediately, as well as a snack. The symptoms of dehydration may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.

Measure Your Sweat Rate

  1. Weigh yourself in minimal clothes right before exercise.
  2. Run at exercise as usual for one hour, keep track of how much you drink (in ounces)
  3. After 1 hour, strip down, to minimal clothes, towel off any sweat, and weigh yourself again.
  4. Subtract your weight from your weight before and convert to ounces (every pound is 16 ounces). Then add to that number how many ounces of liquid you consumed. (For example, if you lost a pound and drank 16 ounces of fluid, your total fluid loss is 32 ounces).
  5. This is your hourly sweat rate in ounces

The Sport Medicine clinic offers comprehensive care and treatment for children and adolescents with acute and chronic injuries. Call 832-22-SPORT (227-7678) for an appointment.