There is always a risk of injury when you’re playing youth sports. And unless you’re just going to cover your kid in bubble wrap for the rest of their lives, there is always the chance that something could go wrong and they’ll get hurt. But parents can and do make a difference when it comes to keeping their kids safe and preventing most injuries. All it requires is a little extra attention.
1. Learn basic first aid.
Do you know what to do if a child gets their tooth knocked out by a fastball? Or what you should do if someone faints during practice? While we don’t expect all sports parents to be healthcare professionals, sometimes timing is everything and what you know could literally save someone’s life! Learning basic first aid (and the symptoms of more serious injuries and illnesses) is the best way to protect your child in the event of an emergency. Even the best laid safety precautions aren’t fail-proof, so what are you going to do when something does go wrong?
If possible, encourage your league to mandate that coaches be certified in basic first aid as well, so that no matter where the team is someone is ready to handle anything that may go down. Invest in a first aid kit for your team as well that travels wherever they go!
2. Stick around during practice.
How many times have you dropped your child off at practice and then left? Sure, we all have lives to lead and we need to get another child to their practice, get groceries, go the grocery store, walk the dog and more. But whenever possible try to stick around during practice and watch how the coach behaves. Most youth sports coaches are great, but there are always a few bad apples in the bunch. Do they scream at the kids? Insult or berate them? Even throw things? Are they making sure the players are getting the amount of water breaks they need on a hot day? Are they spending more one-on-one time with one player in particular? While we never want to think the worst of our youth sports coaches, who are often our friends and neighbors, keeping an eye on things just in case is never a bad idea. Most people don’t want to get caught doing something wrong, so even a few parents at each practice can keep a coach in check.
3. Take action as needed.
If you see something that makes you nervous than please, say something! Never assume that someone else will take up the charge and get it fixed. It’s better that a league administrator get 6 or 7 calls about poor field conditions than no call at all. The same rule applies to any behaviors you see that make you uncomfortable. If you suspect a player is being abused in any way it’s your responsibility to say something! Don’t hem and haw over it because the longer you keep quiet the longer a child could remain in danger. It’s not your job to do the investigation, but you have eyes and ears and a gut instinct that you shouldn’t deny. Wouldn’t you want someone to speak up if they thought your child was in danger and you weren’t there to protect them?