Injuries can happen at the worst possible times: shortly after the opening whistle of the first game of the season, at practice just before the championship game or just as a player is hitting their stride. To reduce the chance of getting injured, keep the following nine tips in mind:
1. Avoid using any gear that doesn’t fit your child well. Big/small cleats, shin guards, baggy shorts or old worn down cleats can increase the chance of various injuries. Be sure to get equipment that fits just right!
2. Check field conditions every time they’re set to play. Be aware of any adverse field conditions like holes, sprinkler heads, bumps, etc. and remove any foreign objects from the field before playing.
3. Be wary of goal posts that look flimsy or aren’t fixed to the ground. To avoid goal post related injuries, be sure to request that goals are secured before playing.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Make sure your kids are properly hydrated before, during and after games and practices. Keep in mind that waiting until thirst creeps up is a sign of dehydration!
5. Pay attention to all weather and environmental reports. Look out for weather warnings, excessive cold/heat, strong winds, poor air quality and any storms.
6. Stay in shape. Injuries are far more likely for athletes who aren’t physically prepared when the season starts. Read up on tips for offseason training here.
7. Take one step at a time. When coming back from injury or inactivity, activities like aerobic conditioning, strength workouts and agility sessions will go a long way in helping build a strong body that’s more resistant to injuries.
8. Listen to your body! Though playing soccer as much as possible is great to improve as a player, that doesn’t mean a rigorous game or demanding training sessions every day are the way to go. Balance your play, try something like juggling on off days and separate the overly physical workouts. Listen to your body and lower training intensity and frequency if pain arises.
9. Consult with the experts. Talk to a trainer, physical therapist or sports medicine professional if you have any questions or concerns about particular injuries, need recovery tips or want to know how to avoid certain injuries.