Youth football, or “pee wee” football summer training camps are starting to open up all over America. While this can be a very exciting time thousands of kids as well as parents, but it can also present hidden dangers that can even be fatal. One team in Plattsburgh, New York is working diligently to decrease the amount of pee wee football players training in the camps and throughout the season with the launch of their “Heads Up” educational program.
There are two main health challenges that occur frequently each year during football pre-and-regular season; dehydration and concussions. While the mere word “concussion” alone may frighten so many parents of that possibility that they don’t permit their kids to participate in youth football, it isn’t enough of a chance for the other thousands of children to strap on their cleats and hit the field every year.
Dehydration can be combated easily by consuming higher amounts of water, and by getting out of the sun for breaks in between the day on the field. Concussions however, often are caused by hard hits, tackles, or two helmets colliding, which are all not as easy to prevent. Eric Luca, who is the Safety Coach for the Adirondack Football League, advised WCAX that they are teaching better ways to block and tackle during plays to avoid suffering from any injuries to the head. If a child plays football for most of his youth and ends up with a few concussions, it can evolve into several much more severe health risks later on in life. Kids can end up with brain trauma, or neurological withdrawals that can impact their quality of life, all as a result of playing a few years of pee wee football.
Some pro tips to having a safe football season are to always keep your kids hydrated all day long during football season, not just during the games. Allow time for adequate sleep each night, as the kids are still very much in need of regular sleep for physical growth and mental development. Nutrition is key, and avoid sugary snacks by swapping them out for fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Listen to your children’s needs when they tell you they’re tired, hungry, or exhausted. If your child gets injured during a game and it appears to be serious, take them to the nearest hospital or urgent care center available to have them evaluated. Better to be safe than sorry in these cases!