Youth sports are something that nearly 30 million teens take part in every year. They are a great way to get kids outside, make new friends, and find a new hobby! While youth sports come with a long list of benefits, there’s a long list of risks too. Each sport comes with its own specific set of risks for the children playing it, but there are a few important statistics parents should keep in mind.

Rate of Injury

Did you know that roughly 1/3 of all youth injuries are sports related? That translates to a whopping 3.5 million children injured each year while playing sports! 62 percent of those 3.5 million injuries occur during sports practice, not an actual game. The good news, however, is that very few of those injuries are life-threatening or result in death. The most common injuries that children suffer are strains and sprains. These injuries can occur in any sport, but contact-heavy sports come with another unique injury risk – head injury.

Understanding the Risk

Head injury is the most severe injury facing youth sports. 21% of all head injuries seen in our American youth can be credited to sports and recreational activities. While many parents associate that risk with football above all else, 50% of the head injuries actually occur during bicycling, skateboarding, or roller-skating injuries. If parents are aware that the sport their child enjoys could be putting them at a higher risk of injury, they can begin to take steps towards preventing injury before it occurs.

Changing the Statistics

Most children injured during youth sports suffer the injury as a result of a fall, collision, or overexertion. To begin lowering the statistics of injured youth each year, parents and coaches need to work together to improve their preventative measures. Some steps towards changing the statistics include:

  • Wearing the proper safety gear – especially head protection
  • Avoiding overexertion by encouraging the child to stretch and take breaks as they play
  • Supervising the youth activities both informal and formal

Of the 775,000 children seen in emergency rooms each year for sports-related injuries, the majority of them are suffered during random events. That means that the responsibility to begin preventing injury before it occurs falls on the parent more than anyone else.

Playgrounds, bicycles, and back yard activities are a great way to keep your child moving, but you have to take the time and attention to ensure they’re doing so as safely as possible!