Our main priority for interschool sport is not only providing an inclusive competition that allows students to be their best and have fun, but to also make sure we provide a safe environment.
Injuries are a reality of sport and thankfully we don’t see too many! Following good practices can help with general athlete wellbeing as well as resilience against injury. We’ve put together a list of simple things you can do to keep your student athlete active and help them continue to gain confidence both on and off the field.
It’s important to drink plenty of fluid before, during and after exercise, especially on hot or humid summer days. When an athlete exercises, their body temperature is elevated, and they sweat to cool themselves down. During this process, body fluid and critical electrolytes are lost. If the body isn’t then replenished with fluids and electrolytes, dehydration may occur.
Proper fluid balance also regulates body temperature, improves brain function and improves circulation. As hydrated muscles perform better than dehydrated muscles, dehydration can contribute to muscle fatigue which can increase the risk of injury.
Maintain Fitness & Wellness Levels
Ideally, your child should be preparing for their sport even before the first practice. Often referred to as pre-season training, this allows time for general and sport-specific conditioning where student athletes can slowly build up the length and intensity of exercises to prevent injuries.
A pre-season physical exam can also help assess any areas of concern before students start a sporting season. This actively keeps them from further injuring themselves during practices and games if a condition is present and needs to be treated.
It’s also important for athletes of any age to eat a well-balanced diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and beans. If you need to switch up what your student athletes are eating on game day, you can check out our Pre-Game Breakfast Ideas here.
Safe Sport Participation & Wearing Protective Gear
When it comes to promoting safe participation in sports and encouraging athlete wellbeing, student athletes will be advised on appropriate protective gear like helmets, mouthpieces and pads, and should always wear properly-fitting sport shoes. This gear should be appropriate for the sport and properly fitted as it’s designed to help protect from injuries or at least reduce the severity of an injury. A great example of this is mouthguards which should be worn when playing a contact sport like hockey or rugby, it’s often recommended they be purchased at sports stores and fitted by a dentist. However, there are mouthguards that can be fitted at home for convenience.
As well as protective gear, student athletes should thoroughly know and follow the rules of the sport they’re playing and how to correctly use athletic equipment. They’ll be educated on this during training with their coaches, all of whom are dedicated to their teams. These rules and regulations are designed to promote safety so that everyone can enjoy the game and avoid injuries.
Stretch and Warm Up
Stretching is an important prevention technique for all athletes.
Student athletes shouldn’t rush into sports or training without warming up first. Generally, muscles that haven’t been properly prepared tend to be injured more easily. Student athletes can do static and dynamic stretching to help loosen the muscles, increase flexibility and prepare their bodies to exercise or play. This might be light skipping, jogging or fun games that warm up the muscles. Coaches will run through appropriate stretches before and after training and games, which students can also use for additional practise at home.
After a game or training session, cooling down with stretching can prevent injuries by helping the muscles recover and relax. It also helps return your breathing and heart rate gradually return to resting levels while reducing the chance of muscle soreness after practice or the next day.
As a parent, you know your child better than their teammates or coaches, if you think something isn’t quite right, keep a close eye on their behaviour and performance. It’s important to also help your child learn to listen to their body and understand that pain is their body’s way of telling them to rest. For older students in their final years, checking into how their body is feeling regularly is important to maintain optimal health and performance, both for sport and for education.