Last night, I went to my daughter’s high school soccer game.  I remember playing soccer 20+ years ago and considering my nasty bruises a badge of honor, not thinking twice about my aches and pains.  Now that I’m a parent, watching these kids play keeps me on my feet, holding my breath as I wait for a girl to get off the ground after lying in a stunned state for a few too many seconds.  Did we play that rough when we were kids?  Being a Soccer Mom puts a whole new perspective on the subject of sports injuries. 

I recently read a great article about kids and sports injuries in Family Circle Magazine.  Here’s the link if you want to read the whole thing, but I pulled out a few highlights.

  • Football is the most injury prone sport, with more than half a million injuries reported annually.  Girls’ soccer is second in terms of concussions.  High rates of injury also occur in basketball, hockey and gymnastics.  Broken bones and sprains occur frequently, but overuse injuries, such as tendinitis and stress fractures, make up for half of all injuries.
  • Kids (and parents) push themselves harder than ever.  Kids start building skills in preschool and more than half of high school students participate in sports, so the competition can be tough, especially if a child hopes to gain a scholarship to college.  Basketball season may only last for three months in the winter, but kids can play in private youth leagues and sports camps all year round.  According the Family Circle article, “Preliminary research…suggests that kids who specialize in one sport before puberty are at a higher risk of overuse injuries and are more likely to burn out or quit their sport.”
  • Concussions are serious.  Don’t mess around with them.  There’s a lot of great information in this article, which I happened to read shortly before my son sustained a concussion at his church youth group (of all places.)  It’s very important to let a concussion heal before a child participates in sports again, as a second concussion on the heels of a first one could cause serious brain injury.  Don’t let your child, teammates or coach push you into letting him play too soon.
  • Girls and boys sustain different types of injuries.  Because their bodies develop so differently, yet they are playing the same sports, girls tend to suffer worse overuse injuries.  Coaches are getting better at helping girls develop the muscles they need to prevent injuries.

Know what risks are there for your kids, encourage them to prevent injuries, and support the coaches that are serious about their players’ health.