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A Parent’s Guide to Safe Sports

Sports are a great way for children to stay healthy and active! It’s also a way to make friends, develop a strong sense of self-esteem, and work on teamwork skills.
Written by Laila Elias, M.D., M.P.H. candidate with Julie Belkowitz, M.D., M.P.H., Lyse Deus, and Oneith Cadiz, M.D.


While sports are helpful for physical, emotional, and mental health, they can also lead to injury if protective measures are not taken.

Before Starting a Sport:

  • Make sure your kid has the appropriate gear, such as shin guards, mouthguards, and helmets, required for playing the sport. Also make sure that they fit properly.
  • Complete a pre-participation physical exam at your doctor to make sure your kid is healthy enough to participate safely in organized sports.
  • Meet with the coaches before the first practice to inform them of any medical conditions that require special attention, such as asthma.

During a Practice or Game:

  • Make sure coaches set aside time in the beginning to stretch and properly warm up before starting any intense physical activity.
  • Stay hydrated! It is very important to drink water before, during, and after playing a sport. Especially in the Miami heat!
  • Wear sunscreen if playing outside.
  • Take breaks.

Potential Risks and How to Avoid Them:


A sprain is a torn muscle or ligament that can be caused by overexertion. Some symptoms are swelling, bruising, and pain with movement.

  • Stretching before and after activity can help prevent sprains.
  • Make sure your child does not play through pain!
  • If the pain doesn’t go away, or your child is not able to fully move their joint, arm or leg you should go see your pediatrician.


A fracture is a break in a bone that can be caused by falls, or heavy impact. Some symptoms include pain, displacement, and inability to move that part of the body.

  • Wearing the right and properly fitting gear can help prevent breaks.
  • Do not play through the pain and go to the doctor immediately for a brace, sling, or cast.


A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a bump, hit, or jolt to the head. Concussions can present in a few different ways, but some common symptoms are confusion, forgetfulness, feeling sluggish or foggy, headache, nausea/vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
  • Teaching safe playing techniques and the proper rules of the game can help athletes avoid concussions and other injuries.
  • Teach your child to never ignore a head injury, no matter how minor.
  • If you notice any of these symptoms, keep your child out of play and contact your pediatrician as soon as possible.
  • Athletes should reduce their physical and mental workload while recovering.


A heat injury is caused by your body overheating, which can be caused by physical activity in high heat/humidity periods. Some symptoms are exhaustion, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting and headache.
  • Drink plenty of water and sports drinks with electrolytes before, during, and after play.
  • Avoid games during very high temperature or humidity conditions.
  • Wear light clothing and try to find shade when possible.

But most importantly, have fun!!!

Practicing these recommendations is the best approach to protect your child from injury while playing sports. For more information about sports safety, visit or contact the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, a program supported by The Children’s Trust, at 305-243-9080.


Sports safety tips. Read more
Sports Safety for Children. Read more
Sports Injuries. Read more


2022 National Conference

December 2-4, Ft. Lauderdale

National Injury Prevention Day

November 18, 2022