Among the 18 different high school sports, baseball has the third lowest rate of injury according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. After seeing all the football and basketball injuries from the sidelines, I am glad my son has decided to take it easy with a season of recreational baseball. The AAP, says baseball is "one of the safest high school sports in the United States."
I was especially happy to see that baseball and softball have the lowest rate of concussions of the youth sports surveyed. The school basketball team had a couple players benched for the season for major head injuries and I have had my share of emergency room visits myself. With that said; the following statistics and subsequent tips may help keep our youth athlete safe.
- Fractures represent a larger percentage of total injuries than in other sports.
- Baseball is also the second highest in time lost from sports participation.
- Most injuries in baseball are to the head and face. The mouth and teeth are the main targets and 18% require surgery.
Be sure your child wears all the required safety gear.Protective equipment is designed to protect but if your child doesn't wear it, it will not do any good. Players may wear all the gear during the games because it is required, but it is also important to wear the same equipment during practices. This equipment includes a properly fitted helmet, protective eyewear for those who wear glasses, catchers gear, shoes with molded cleats and a clean uniform.
Helmet. Prevent serious dental, facial, head and eye injuries with a certified helmet. Batting helmets with face guards can reduce or lessen the severity of the nearly 4,000 facial injuries suffered by batters in youth baseball. Batting helmets need to be worn to be effective though. Wearing the helmets at practice and while warming up can also help a child get used to playing with it on.
Protective eyewear. Invest in a pair of glasses with shatterproof lenses and sports frames to keep your eyeglass wearing athlete safe.
Catcher's gear. Catchers are sitting right in the line of fire. They should put on all the gear, the helmet, face mask, throat guard, chest protector, supporter and shin guards every time they step behind the plate.
Molded cleats. Steel spikes are not as common anymore, but it should be mentioned that hand-me-down spikes may not be allowed in your youth league. Used pairs may also be worn down unevenly which could lead to injury.
Clean uniform. Why, does a clean uniform matter? This was brought to my attention by another mom. Dirty uniforms that hang in the school locker day after day could actually pose a risk of staph infection.
In addition to wearing the proper protective gear, be sure your youth athlete warms up and conditions properly. Regardless if they are playing "just for fun" or if they are part of a travel or high school team, encourage training to improve their play and keep them injury-free this season.
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