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From the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research

Twelve Youth Sports Injury Prevention Tips

The National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research recommends the following twelve steps for reducing the number of injuries in youth sports:

  1. A pre-participation evaluation, including the taking of a detailed medical history, should be mandatory before an athlete is allowed to participate. 
  2. All personnel concerned with training athletes should emphasize proper, gradual and complete physical conditioning in order to provide the athlete with optimal readiness for the rigors of the sport.
  3. Every school should strive to have a certified athletic trainer who is a regular member of the faculty and is adequately prepared and qualified.  There should be a written emergency procedure plan to deal with the possibility of a catastrophic injury.
  4. There should be an emphasis on employing well-trained athletic personnel, providing excellent facilities and securing the safest and best equipment available.
  5. There should be strict enforcement of game rules and administrative regulations should be enforced to protect the health of the athlete.  Coaches and school officials must support the game officials in their conduct of the athletic contests.
  6. Coaches should know and have the ability to teach the proper fundamental skills of the sport.  This recommendation includes all sports, not only football.  The proper fundamentals of blocking and tackling should be emphasized to help reduce head and neck injuries in football.  Keep the head out of blocking and tackling.
  7. There should be continued safety research in athletics (rules, facilities, equipment).
  8. Strict enforcement of the rules of the game by both coaches and game officials will help reduce serious injuries.
  9. When an athlete has experienced or shown signs of head trauma (loss of consciousness, visual disturbance, headache, inability to walk correctly, obvious disorientation, memory loss) he/she should receive immediate medical attention and should not be allowed to return to practice or game without permission from the proper medical authorities.  It is important for a physician to observe the head injured athlete for several days following the injury.  Coaches should encourage athletes to let them know if they have any of the above mentioned symptoms (that can't be seen by others, such as headaches) and why it is important.
  10. Athletes and their parents should be warned of the risks of injuries.
  11. Coaches should not be hired if they do not have the training and experience needed to teach the skills of the sport and to properly train and develop the athletes for competition.
  12. Weight loss in wrestling to make weight for a match can be dangerous and cause serious injury or death.  Coaches should be aware of safety precautions and rules associate with this practice.