Sports Injury Prevention

Prevent Sports-Related Injuries

Approximately 3.5 million children under the age of 14 are treated for sports-related injuries each year. Common types of sports-related injuries in children include sprains (mostly ankle), muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries and heat-related illnesses. Follow the tips below—and share them with coaches and league organizers—to keep your child safe.

Tips for Preventing Injuries

Get preseason medical screening. Every child should receive an annual pre-participation physical evaluation (PPE), also known as a sports physical. (Washington state requires all students participating in organized sports to have a physical exam every two years.)

Important Topics to Discuss During a Sports Physical

  • Questions about your child’s health
  • Chronic medical problems
  • Past orthopedic problems or fractures
  • Current medications
  • Allergies
  • Family history of any heart disorders or sudden death (especially family members under age 50)
  • Any history of concussion or “having their bell rung”

Use safety gear. Children playing sports should consistently use well-maintained safety equipment during practices and games.

Ensure coaches have adequate training. Athletic coaches should be trained in first aid and CPR, have a plan for responding to emergencies and be knowledgeable about safety rules and proper equipment use. Sports programs with certified athletic trainers are ideal because they are trained to prevent injuries and provide immediate care if your child should get hurt.

Engage in proper conditioning. Coaches should teach your child proper routines for warming up and cooling down. More than half of sports-related injuries occur during practices rather than games, so it’s important for your child to engage in these routines consistently, regardless of the context. 

Stay hydrated. Encourage your child to drink water before, during and after all physical activity.

Get rest. If your child is very tired or in pain, encourage rest rather than play—this valuable recovery time can help prevent serious injuries.

Questions?

For more information about preventing sports-related injuries, visit Heads Up to Youth Sports, an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.