Preventing Sports Injury in Children

Can sports injuries be prevented?

Many sports injuries can be prevented by learning about the sport and making sure your child has the necessary protection.

Before signing your child up for a sport, you should consider:

  • The temperature. Cooler weather is safer.

  • The playing surface. Some surfaces will reduce the impact on your child’s joints, reducing injuries.

  • Traffic. Sharing the road with automobiles can raise the risk of injury.

  • Gear safety. Broken or unsafe helmets, pads, or surfaces can cause injury.

  • Rules of play. Strict enforcement of rules protects participants.

  • Medical evaluations. A checkup before the season can find hidden problems.

Your child will need:

  • Safety gear and protective devices, such as pads, helmets, and gloves

  • Time to slowly increase their activity to avoid doing too much too soon

  • Shoes that are appropriate for the sport and fit correctly

  • Rehabilitation of any previous injuries before continuing or starting a sport

Safety gear should be sport-specific and may include such items as:

  • Goggles

  • Mouthguards

  • Protective pads for the shins, elbows, and knees

  • Helmets

Make sure your child's safety gear fits correctly. Also make sure all sports equipment, such as bats, baskets, and goals, are in good working condition. Repair any damage or replace the item entirely. The playing area should be free from debris and water.

Physical checkup

Before your child signs up for a sport, they should have a sports physical with their healthcare provider. These physicals can reveal your child's physical strengths and weaknesses and help determine which sports are best. Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s medical history and check their:

  • Height and weight

  • Heart and heart rate

  • Lungs

  • Belly

  • Vision and hearing

  • Joints

  • Bones

  • Muscles


Starting a sport too young may not be good for your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that age 6 is when children can understand the idea of teamwork. But no two children are alike, and some may not be mentally or physically ready to play a team sport even at age 6. You should make your decision on whether to allow your child to take part in a particular sport based on:

  • Age

  • Weight

  • Build

  • Physical development

  • Emotional development

  • Child's interest in the sport

Staying healthy during play

Children who play hard will sweat. This sweat must be replaced with equal amounts of fluids. This means your child should drink enough water before, during, and after each practice or game. If your child doesn’t get enough fluids, they may get dehydrated.

Give your child about 1 cup of water (or a type of sports drink suitable for their age) every 15 to 20 minutes during heavy exercise. Don't give your child drinks that have excess sugar, carbonation, and caffeine, such as soda, energy drinks, or coffee. Children in hot, humid weather can become dehydrated even faster. You should consider decreasing or stopping the activity when it is too hot.

The symptoms of dehydration may vary. Some of the most common symptoms may include:

  • Thirst

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Dry mouth

  • Cramps

  • Weakness

  • Headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Dark-colored urine

  • Slight weight loss

If your child shows signs of dehydration, make sure they get fluids and a small snack immediately. The symptoms of dehydration may be like other health conditions or problems. Always check with your child's healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Shaziya Allarakha MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2024
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.