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Guidelines for Successful Participation in Kid's Sports

The increasingly competitive climate in children’s sports here in Michigan and elsewhere is causing concern among many educators, medical personnel and parents. As a parent of four children, ages 10-15, I have concerns.  Don't get me wrong, I love sports as much as anyone (maybe more)  - but sports are becoming increasingly more competitive.  Is the fun being taken out of sports for your child?

Osgood Schlatter is a cause of knee pain in children (primarily during high growth periods).  So far, three of my four children have suffered from Osgood.  All three have experienced great relief from taking a combination of Vitamin E and Selenium on a daily basis. 

Here are a few guidelines to follow when evaluating your child’s athletic endeavors.

There has been an increase in the number of children dying during, or soon after, sports games or practices. Most often the cause of death is a heart problem or severe dehydration. Parents can protect their child by ensuring the child's coach understands the effects of dehydration, making sure that your child regularly gets physical exams, playing an active role in making sure your son or daughter is hydrated and monitoring for injuries.

ANY sports program that your child participates in should require a “physical” and a medical release form signed by a physician. Before visiting a doctor, the office should be notified that the  child will be participating in sports.  A good physician will look for and identify pre-existing conditions such as asthma, pulmonary disorders, and any heart conditions. 

If your sports program doesn’t require a physical, your child should still have a yearly physical. Get the doctor’s approval before letting your child begin a sports program.  

If your child will be practicing in warm weather, be diligent about hydration. It is important for him/her to be well hydrated before he arrives at the practice or game and it is important for him to continue to drink water throughout the practice/game.  Children should be taught very young to drink water when playing sports. 

The rule of thumb for drinking before, during, and after exercise, is to stop for fluid breaks every 15-20 minutes. Coaches should be aware of this rule! Water is a great option for hydrating your kids, but if they are staying active for more than an hour at a time, sports drinks are a better choice because of the calories (energy) they provide, and the electrolytes they help replace. Water has zero calories which calculates to zero energy. 

Be sure to stay away from carbonated drinks and pure fruit juices.

Injuries are increasing at an alarming rate.  I constantly hear about girls and boys that are "out for the season because of knee injuries" If you do not attend all practices/games, you need to ask for specific details about how the practice went, and give your child a good visual once-over to make sure he’s not limping or excessively sore. 

An injury that occurs at an early age and goes untreated will most likely plague your child for many years. Make sure the coach is aware of injuries and do not allow your child to play while injured. 

Be involved in your children’s sports programs. Go to the practices, go to the games, talk to your kids, their coaches, and their doctor about their sports activities.  Make it a goal to focus on children getting good exercise, having a great time and increasing their athletic skills. 

A final note:  Don't get too involved and don't relive your athletic dreams through your child.  Twenty million kids register each year for youth hockey, football, basketball, soccer, and other competitive sports. The National Alliance for Sports reports that 70 percent of these kids quit playing these league sports by age 13 -- and never play them again. 

Many kids lose their passion for sports at an early age because they feel they can't live up to their parents' and/or coaches' expectations. Don't allow your child to be a statistic because of your competitiveness - make sure you emphasize playing sports for fun.

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