Junior Football Safety Guidelines

Fall means football in the United States, and kids from ages 5 and up get in on the fun of the sport. But kids aged 5-14 also account for nearly 40% of sports injuries treated in hospitals. Around 15% of those are caused by football specifically. If you’ve got a child hitting the gridiron, make sure the team’s coaches and staff have taken these safety tips to heart.

Safety Gear

Football is a game which requires a lot of gear to protect the players.  A helmet is most important, and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) has even come up with standards all football helmets need to meet. Coaches should make sure the helmet has a secure facemask and a chin strap that fits snugly. A mouth guard can also attach to the helmet with a strap so that it won’t get lost during play. The mouth guard is critical to protect your child’s teeth and jaw.  To protect the body, pants with leg pads and hard shoulder pads are also necessary, not optional. If your child is male, don’t forget the athletic cup! Lastly, ask your child’s coach about recommendations for shoes, since some leagues require different kinds of cleats than others.

Conditioning and Study

Football is an intense sport, and no one can just walk out on the field and be ready to play with no training or practice. It’s the coach’s job to make sure your child knows the rules of football and what is fair play versus dangerous play. They should also get them in the habit of stretching and warming up every day, even if they don’t have practice, to keep their muscles flexible. The coach should also make sure they know their plays and are strong enough to hold their own on the field. Statistics actually show that 62% of sports injuries occur during practice, not  during games, in part because parents and coaches relax their safety standards during practice.

Hydration

Once your kid is suited up in their gear and ready to play safely, one risk for injury is dehydration and overexertion. During practice, this can be impacted by the level of contact the players are having with each other or air bags. The number of practices a week also plays a role in this concern. If a player practiced the day before and didn’t re-hydrate, they could be at serious risk when they take the field the next day. Your coach and team parents need to make sure water and sports drinks are on hand, and coaches should educate the children about the signs of heat exhaustion and heat cramps.

Concussion Awareness

USA Football, youth football’s national governing body, has a page on their website detailing the symptoms of a concussion and what the action plan should be if your child gets a concussion. They’ve also developed an initiative called “Heads Up Football” encouraging players to avoid helmet-to-helmet contact whenever possible. The Heads Up Football program also offers certification for coaches. USA Football is even developing an app by which coaches or parents can report and document injuries. While concussion awareness is more critical than ever to the organizations behind football, it’s also the role of the coach to know what the symptoms are and keep watch on their players.

We love to watch football because it’s risky, fast-paced, and exciting. But those elements also make it dangerous for players, especially small children. It’s the responsibility of coaches and team parents to enforce safety standards which keep the children safe and able to have fun. Your team’s decision makers need to follow these easy standards to keep kids playing until the finals.

If your child has been injured in a football accident and you believe you have a case, contact us today for a free consultation. The Indianapolis personal injury attorneys at Cline Farrell Christie & Lee want to help you get what you need to move forward in life with peace of mind. From listening to your story to fighting for you in court, we’re your advocates.