Soccer is very popular among children and adolescents. It has been estimated that about 284,000 high school boys play the sport and 209,000 high school girls do. Some estimate that soccer is the fastest growing team sport in the United States. With all of the excitement that always accompanies the World Cup, it makes a lot of sense that people would get excited by the fast paced sport. Unfortunately, like all sports played in the country and around the world, kids can get injured playing it. In 2009, more than 88,000 kids aged five to 14 were seen in emergency rooms for injuries they sustained on the soccer field. While sports related injuries may seem like a right of passage, there are ways they can be prevented. Whether the sport is being played in an urban soccer league or in a soccer training program, steps can be taken to lessen the likelihood of an injury. Here are a few things that should be done to accomplish this goal:
- Make sure the soccer field is properly maintained. The soccer training program or the youth soccer camps to which you want to send your child needs to take keeping the field maintained seriously. Experts in sports injuries report that as many as 25% of all injuries playing soccer are caused by problems on the field. Before kids are allowed to play on a soccer field, someone needs to check the area for various problems such as divots, debris, rocks and puddles. Any trash that has blown onto the field should be taken care of. This is an easy way to prevent kids who are trying to learn how to play soccer from injuring themselves playing the sport. When you talk to different soccer training programs, ask them about how they maintain their field.
- Kids need to wear all of their safety equipment. This may not be the most fun part of playing soccer but it is one of the more important. It is also a great way to keep kids from injuring themselves playing the sport. In terms of the number of kids hurt, soccer is safer than football and baseball. About 200,000 kids are treated for football related injuries and 110,000 are treated for baseball and softball related injuries. Wearing the appropriate equipment is still extremely important for all sports. Shin guards and mouth guards should be worn any time kids hit the soccer field. Some experts in sports medicine have reported that more than 30% of injuries sustained playing soccer involve the mouth. The shins are also susceptible to injury so those shin guards are important to wear. All of the safety equipment needs to be checked out before gameplay begins.
- Players need to be careful to warm up and cool down properly. It is important to not rush out onto the field without warming up. It is a well known fact that playing sports when a person’s muscles are cold is just like asking for an injury. An athlete’s muscles need to be warmed up before they start playing any sport. This should be done both before practices and before any games. This is an important part of the soccer training programs. Most coaches recommend a light period of aerobic activity followed by some light stretching. The muscles need to be warmed up a little before they are stretched. Doing a cool down after the game or the practice can also help the muscles recover and is as important as the warm up.
- Players need to be in good physical shape. Throughout the season, summer or year, soccer players should work on their overall fitness level. This is true of any sport, really. Often kids experience more injuries at the beginning of the season because they may have taken time away from working out. It takes some work to get back into shape. If they are going to attend a soccer training program, it is worth it to get into the habit of exercising and doing basic conditioning several weeks before the real soccer training begins to prevent injuries.
Soccer is a great sport and it is possible to go through the season without an injury with some work.