Injury prevention when children play league football

Tossing your child onto a bloodthirsty field of his or her peers for a competitive game of football can be nerve-racking, but there are ways to lessen your anxiety and reduce your child’s risk for bodily harm.  While there are never any guarantees for safety in a game, following a few rules could mean the difference between getting the gold and getting a big hospital bill.

Protect your player

Football gear issued by your child’s league team manager may not be everything your son or daughter needs to protect him or her from serious injury.  Before giving them the all clear to play, make sure to mark these items off your game day checklist:

Helmet:  Standard issue head gear should be enough to reduce the risk of trauma like concussions, but be sure that your child’s helmet fits properly, has adequate padding, and doesn’t have any torn or frayed straps.

Pads:  Most school teams provide your child with the appropriate padding, but make sure your player is wearing them all during the event.  Bones and joints like the hips, elbows, shoulders, tailbone, and ribs can be easily injured by blunt force or falls, so if your team doesn’t offer extra padding, you may want to get some.

Mouth Guard:  A trip to the dentist or an ER isn’t how anyone wants to celebrate after the game.  Buy extra mouth guards just in case your child loses his or hers and double check each one for fit.

Gloves:  This type of protection isn’t usually supplied by team managers, but that doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t have a pair.  Padded gloves lessen the chances of broken fingers and can give them an added advantage when going for that long pass.

Shoes:  Cleats aren’t always required for participation, but if you have the money, they can make a huge difference in how your child performs on the field.  Not only do these specialized shoes help your kid stay on his feet, they can help them outrun bone crushing tackles and to avoid broken or stubbed toes.

Feed your child: One of the most basic safeguards against injury during sporting events is to make sure your child has adequate nutrition.  Lack of essential nutrients can leave your child lacking energy and less focused on the game.  Keep your kid on a healthy, balanced diet, especially on game days and give him or her a boost with FDA approved vitamins to keep them alert and in the game.

Adequate sleep: Every parent knows that a good night’s rest is important for performance, but did you know that not enough sleep can actually hurt your child’s chances at memorizing plays?  According to an article reprinted at, Dennis Rosen, M.D. says that lack of sleep negatively affects how your child’s mind processes the day’s events and limits their ability to adequately sort and file information given to them.

Keep it simple. A child’s life may seem simple to an adult, but each day your son or daughter is likely inundated with stressors from school and at home.  On game days, try debriefing your child at home before they have to play.  Talking to them about issues that may be bothering them can help to clear their minds and keep their thoughts fully focused on staying safe and winning the big game.  However, steer clear of topics that cause arguments between you and your child, or subjects that cause a heightened state of anxiety.  This type of counseling or stress relief won’t work and can actually lead to increased frustration on the field and more possible injury.

Finally, league football can be a fun and exciting learning opportunity for both you and your child.  It’s important that parents go into the experience with a good attitude and a great understanding of the possible outcomes of every season.  With tackles and passes, injury is almost inevitable, but being proactive in your child’s defense is never a losing play.