Safety is a fundamental requirement of all sports activities. Find out how you too can enjoy sports safely and without injury.
The weather can have an impact on your safety. If you are playing outside, make sure you protect against sun damage and dehydration. You should:
- Apply sunscreen and wear a hat if you have one
- Hydrate by drinking water at regular intervals
- Safety Equipment
Ensure that you have suitable equipment to protect yourself from accidental injury. Examples of protective equipment include:
- Mouthguards – particularly important if your child is undergoing orthodontic treatment (braces)
- Helmets – especially when cycling, rollerblading and skate boarding or during sports such as hockey, baseball and cricket
- Footwear – ensure that your footwear is sports-specific, e.g. football boots, running shoes, basketball high top sneakers, etc.
- Grounds and facilities
It is the responsibility of sports officials to:
- Check that facilities and equipment are safe
- Cancel an event if safety is compromised
- Head Rule management (ensure game safety and fairness)
- Head Rule education (encourage participation, development and sportsmanship through ensuring proper adherence of rules)
- Record Keeping, Managing Illness and Medical Conditions
To plan a safe, beneficial and appropriate activity or programme, the organiser (coaches or teachers) must know the medical history or all participants.
For young people aged 15 and above, we recommend using the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q). School athletes who train intensely for inter-school games may also be tested for exercise-induced asthma and cardiac abnormality if symptoms exist.
Collecting Information And Keeping Records
Records such as athlete medical forms, consent for collection of images, and asthma management plans should be collected for safety purposes. Athletes should also be assured of their privacy.
Medical Conditions and Participation
Before allowing participation in any sports activity, coaches and officials should be made aware of both chronic and non-chronic medical conditions that may affect the child or youth’s health and well-being.
Considerations for Participation
To ensure activities are safe and enjoyable, they must be well-structured, planned in advance, and contain the following components:
- Warm up (to prepare the muscles and body for activities)
- Skill practice (using drills, games and practices)
- Activity (application of skills in game-like situations)
- Cool down
- Warm Up, Cool Down and Stretch
The warm up aims to:
Injury from Overuse
- Prepare the mind and body for the activity
- Increase body temperature
- Increase heart rate
- Increase breathing rate
- A cool down routine at the end of every activity session helps the body to recover after the activity.
Overuse is a common cause of injuries in children and youth. Physical and psychological burnout can be prevented by:
- Avoiding year-long participation in one sport
- Increasing intensity gradually, not suddenly
- Reminding young participants that sports should be a fun activity
- Acting on injuries at the earliest sign
- Strength Training and Conditioning
Children and youth are recommended to follow these guidelines when it comes to strength training and conditioning:
- Children and young people should avoid competitive weightlifting, powerlifting, body building and maximal lifts until they reach physical and skeletal maturity
- Medical recommendation can provide guidelines for youth who are thinking of starting a challenging strength training programme
- A professional coach can advise on a suitable training programme, including initial and progressive loads and sets.
Recovery is an important part of any training programme, particularly to young children and youth. Simple recovery techniques include:
Roles and Responsibilities
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Massage to loosen tight muscles
- Cross training to avoid continued repetition and allow enjoyment of other activities
- Proper cool down routines
- Proper injury management
- Adequate rest and sleep
A coach or adult with first aid knowledge should be present at all sporting events with participants under 16 years of age.
Parents play a vital role in the safety of their children and youth. By adhering to the guidelines outlined above, they can ensure that children and youth are able to enjoy a safe and fun sporting lifestyl