Football is a great way for kids to be part of a team and stay physically active.
But football is a contact sport, so injuries do happen. Doctors and scientists are
studying how repeatedly hitting
the head during tackling affects the brain. These injuries
can cause serious brain problems later in life. Recent changes in training techniques
and rules may help lower the risk of brain injury.
As a family, you need to decide whether the risks of football outweigh the benefits.
If your child does play football, follow these tips to help prevent injuries.
Safe Football Gear
Football gear that can lower the risk of injury includes:
Helmet. All football helmets should have a hard plastic outer
shell and a thick layer of padding. Helmets should meet the safety standards developed
by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).
The coach or a trained professional at a sporting goods store can make sure your child
gets a helmet that meets these standards and fits well.
Helmets also should have a rigid facemask made from coated carbon steel. The facemask
needs to be secured to the helmet. There are different face masks for different positions
and purposes. Ask the coach which one would be best for your child.
Finally, all helmets should have a chin strap with a protective chin cup. The chin
strap needs to be fastened and snug whenever your child plays.
Pants with leg pads. Players should wear pads on their hips, thighs,
knees, and tailbone. Some football pants include pads that snap into place or fit
into pockets within the pants. Other pants are shells that are pulled over the pads.
Shoulder pads. Football shoulder pads should have a hard plastic
shell with thick padding.
Shoes. Different leagues have different rules about the type of
shoes and cleats (non-detachable or detachable) players can use. Check with your coach
and consult your league's guidelines about which types of shoes are allowed.
Mouthguard. All football leagues require players to use a mouthguard.
Be sure to get one with a keeper strap that attaches it securely to the facemask.
Athletic supporter with cup. A cup helps male athletes avoid testicular
Additional gear. Other items that you might want to consider include:
padded neck rolls
padded or non-padded gloves
"flak jackets" that protect the ribcage and abdomen
If your child needs to wear glasses on the field, be sure they're made of shatterproof
glass or plastic.
Safe Football Training
Be sure that your child's team has a coach who emphasizes safe, fair
play at practices and games. The coach (and athletic trainer, if possible) should
be at all practices and games and:
Limit the amount of contact during practices.
Insist that players follow the current safety rules on tackling.
Not allow helmet-to-helmet or helmet-to-body contact.
Insist all players use the right protective gear, particularly a helmet that fits
well and is in good condition.
To prevent injuries during practice, players should: