Selecting an Outdoor Sport for Your Child

Millions of children will be playing their favorite sports this summer in their backyard or at the park, on the baseball diamond, soccer field or basketball court. These fun recreational activities help develop youths' muscles and coordination, but they can also result in injuries.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, young athletes are more susceptible to injury because children's bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that more than 3.5 million sports-related injuries in children under age 15 were treated in the U.S. in 2003.  The five summer sports in which this age group had the most injuries are bicycling, basketball, baseball, soccer, and trampolines.

To help parents reduce their child's chances of becoming one of this summer's statistics, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has launched a national public education campaign, "Play it Safe."

The Academy says that parents must actively promote sports safety at the start of the summer season to help children avoid sports-related injuries. Parents should urge their children to:

  • Know and abide by the rules of the sport.      
  • Be in proper physical condition to play the sport.      
  • Wear the proper apparel and protective gear specific for each sport.      
  • Warm up before the game and cool down afterward.      
  • Do not play through pain.

Parents should set the proper example for their children by following safety rules themselves. For example, wearing a helmet when they ride a bike.

Other recommendations include making sure children's coaches use well-maintained equipment, help with players' conditioning, and are qualified to supervise the sport. Never push a child to win the game at all costs. Children can still have fun this summer while they "Play it Safe."

Return to the Safety Resource Center