Important sports safety tips

by Katelin Whiddon

While there are numerous benefits to having children in sports, we have to try our best to keep our children safe while participating in individual and team sports.

Hydration is an important aspect of sports safety year-round, but even more so in the summer. Water is a necessary piece of equipment, regardless of what the sport is. For outdoor sports, water intake is even more imperative.

Be sure your children know to stop and take water breaks as often as they need to. If your children are young enough that you attend practices, make sure you keep them drinking water regularly. Talk to your older children about signs of dehydration and the importance of preventing it. Be sure they know it is OK to ask for a water break if they are feeling ill or overheated.

Sunscreen is another pivotal safeguard for any outdoor activities. Sunscreen should be purchased each year, as expired sunscreen may not provide the best protection. When wet, (such as while swimming or sweating), sunscreen should be reapplied every hour.

Many sports require or strongly encourage protective gear such as helmets, pads, face guards, etc. Be sure helmets and other gear fit properly, as ill-fitting equipment may not keep your child safe. Even when riding bicycles, scooters and skateboards, please be sure your children always wear their helmets.

It is so easy to push our children to do their best. However, pushing children too hard may not only burn them out, but can also cause physical harm. Children will need rest periods and it may be up to parents to notice when those needed times are. Try not to let your children overcommit. Be mindful of how many activities children have going on and make sure they still have time to be a kid and stay at home. 

For preteens and teenagers, poor posture and body mechanics start to cause problems. Talk to your child’s coach and ask them to make sure your child is moving correctly and using the proper body mechanics. Proper alignment and ergonomics will not only help them feel better now, but prevent future musculoskeletal problems down the road.

We all want our children to challenge themselves, be physically active, learn how to work together as a team and have fun doing it, but we have to make sure our kids are doing so in a healthy way. Far too many sports-related illnesses or deaths occur and we can do our best to bring those numbers down. 


A Conway native, Katelin Whiddon is a nurse practitioner at the Conway wound clinic for Arkansas Heart Hospital. She and her husband, Daniel, have two daughters. A University of Central Arkansas graduate, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and works in pediatrics.