For any athlete, the last thing they would want is to be sidelined with an injury on the day of the big game. Coaches and parents should be keen on teaching young athletes how to prevent injury that not only causes them to miss the game that they love but could lead to something more severe if they do not heal correctly. To avoid sports injuries, follow these 5 general guidelines:

1. Wear appropriate protective gear and equipment
The gear depends on the game being played. Helmets are the most common protective gear and are worn while playing football, hockey, baseball, biking, softball, etc. These sports are high-impact and may lead to head injuries which are why there is an emphasis on head protection.

Other sports may require other protective gear that includes mouth guards, knee pads, guards for elbows and knees, eye protection, and for boys, protective cups.
Protective equipment includes wearing the right shoes for the sport being played. For example, sports like football, baseball, softball, and soccer require cleats which have special rubber or plastic points on the soles that grip the ground; these shoes are specially made for the ground that these sports are played on and not wearing them could lead to serious injury.

2. Warm up
A proper warm up is crucial to preventing sports injuries. When muscles are cold, they are more susceptible to injuries. The warm up could be specific to the sport you play. For example, swinging the bat for baseball or stretching for sports that require you to do a good amount of running. A light aerobic activity before the game is ideal to get loosened up.

3. Don’t play when you are already injured or not in peak condition
If you always feel a strain or any pain, you should not be playing. Adding more pressure on an already injured leg or arm could lead to more severe injuries. Be honest with your parents and coach if you suspect that you have an existing injury. It is not worth the risk to play when you are not in peak condition. This applies to if you are feeling unwell. Having a fever, a headache, or an upset stomach could all lead to injury or accident on the court or field.

4. Know the rules of the game and proper technique
When players know what is legal and what is not, injuries are less likely to occur. When all players know the rules of the game, there are no surprises or anyone acting out of line. When players know exactly how to behave, they won’t attempt to perform illegal moves that could potentially hurt another player or put them in harm’s way.

5. Hydrate and re-hydrate before, during, and after the game
Adequate fluids are crucial to avoid dehydration during a game. It is critical for athletes to drink the adequate amounts of water before, during, and after a game to replenish any fluids lost through sweat caused by their bodies heating up during play. Without proper hydration, an athlete may become overheated which leads to fatigue, confusion, fainting, nausea, and vomiting. Remember, sports injuries can include illnesses brought on by sports and could be just as difficult to recover from.