Safety Tips For Your Young Athlete From Athletic Trainer Erik Collins
Summit Orthopedics athletic trainer Erik Collins is proud to work with the student athletes at East Ridge High School as a member of Summit’s sports medicine team for District 833 high schools. He shares safety tips that parents can use to help keep their children safe on the field.
As someone who played football, basketball, and golf in high school, athletic trainer Erik Collins understands the physical demands on student athletes. In addition to the guidance he provides to the teams under his charge, he also has tips that parents can use to keep their young athletes in good condition to safely enjoy athletic competition.
“Protective equipment is so important to safety,” says Erik. “Players may not like wearing certain equipment, but it’s my job to educate them—and their parents—about why we need this protective equipment. It’s great when parents join me in encouraging their kids to use protective gear during games—and during practice.”
Watching for signs and symptoms of concussions is another area where parents are in a unique position to help protect their young athletes. “Sometimes, kids don’t know they have a concussion, and sometimes, concussion symptoms don’t show up until a few hours later when kids are at home,” Erik explains. “Parents know their kids best, and are in the best position to notice when something’s just not right. We educate the parents of our athletes about concussions so that they can recognize the warning signs and get help.”
“Another important step parents can take is to make sure their kids get enough sleep,” Erik notes. “Studies show that getting eight to 10 hours of sleep improves athletic performance and decreases the risk of injury. When these students get seven hours of sleep or less, the body doesn’t have a chance to recover, and reaction time isn’t as good, increasing injury risks.”
Providing balanced meals and adequate hydration is central to good health. “Children need a diet of fruit, vegetables, protein, carbs, and healthful fats,” says Erik. “Parents can also make sure that children hydrate in the evening before practice or a game. Send them to school with a water bottle too!”
Studies have shown that it’s smart to encourage students to participate in as many different sports as they can comfortably play. “I’ve worked at the college level,” says Erik. “I know coaches are looking for kids who have played more than one sport; it helps to build an all-around athlete and prevent the likelihood of burnout.”
Erik and the Summit sports medicine teams are monitoring the athletes in District 833 on the field to make sure each player is in good health and playing safely. Parents can do their part by following Erik’s tips on—and off—the field. “Staying in the best condition throughout the sports season is about doing the little things, taking care of your body, and being disciplined,” says Erik. “We are here to watch out for these kids, and to teach their families the best ways to support them too.”
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