Protecting your child is a big part of parenting. When you are a parent of an athlete, the stakes are high. While you do not want to be an over-bearing, lawnmower parent who plows down all the obstacles in their child's path, it is important to check into the basics and keep an eye on the following areas.
1. Research. Learn about the possible risks for injury in your child's sport of choice. Prevent problems by being aware, especially if you are new to the sport. I have played soccer and basketball, so I know the potential injuries, but when my son decided to give lacrosse a try I had no idea. Getting the right equipment is dependent on knowing this information.
2. Prevent overuse. Sports are no longer played a few months at a time. Year-round training is common for sports, starting at a very young age. As a parent, watch for signs of overuse and propose a break throughout the year. Switching up sports, even for a single season, can make a difference in overall fitness level. The main sports in my home include soccer and football, but my kids also swim on the swim team and play a variety of off-season sports such as basketball, co-ed volleyball and run track for fun. Some may say this puts them at a disadvantage against kids who train year-round, but we have not found this to be true.
3. Safe equipment. Sports programs have wide variations in funding. Community programs could be run strictly by volunteers, and school programs could have been experiencing budget cuts for a long time before your child arrived. Take a look at the equipment, and the playing field conditions. Don't just blow whistles if you see something that needs attention, though. Be part of the solution to keep everyone safe. Bringing or making sure there is a first aid kit on hand is a one tiny contribution that can make a big difference.
These three things can be overshadowed by the people running the program. Get to know the coaches. Some coaches do not care for much personal interaction with families, and that is OK, they have a job to do. With that said, checking to see "who" these people are is not out of line.
Keep your child safe, on and off the field, so that they can enjoy the numerable benefits of playing youth sports.
More by Sylvie Branch: