Baseball is one of the most popular youth sports in the United States, and like any other sport, it comes with a risk of injuries. Just like baseball is a team sport, it also needs the collective effort of parents, coaches, teammates and officials to ensure the safety of its players. Here are some essential baseball safety tips to keep in mind to protect children from injuries.
Preventing Injuries Pre-Season
Before the season starts, ensure that your child is healthy. It’s advisable to get a pre-participation physical exam. Among other things, the test would include checking the child’s strength, flexibility, endurance, understanding the family history and injury history, and the child’s overall health. Parents must inform the coach if the child has any medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, allergies, etc. (Barton Straus)
CPR and First Aid
It’s highly recommended that coaches must learn basic first aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). A first aid kit must be ready, easily accessible, and well-stocked. Coaches must be familiar with all the contents of the first aid kit and how to use it.
Many injuries can be prevented if the child practices a regular strengthening and conditioning program. About a month before the season starts, your child should engage in physical exercise a couple of times a week and gradually increase the number of workouts to around three or four times each week.
Your child must be taught the correct throwing mechanics, so the arm is positioned correctly during the different phases of the pitching motion. Exercises for the shoulder and arms must be incorporated into the conditioning program.
It’s important to spend adequate time warming up and stretching as cold muscles are prone to injury. Some warm-up exercises are jumping jacks and static jogging or walking for 3 to 5 minutes. It’s best to practice slow stretching and then hold each stretch for 30 seconds after the warm-up. Children must not leave the field without the appropriate cooldown. The child can do the same exercises and stretches performed during the warm-up for about 3 to 5 minutes. (ActiveKidMD, 2019)
During practice, the child should not begin throwing or taking full swings right away. The routine should start with soft-tossing, and the distance and velocity of the throws can be gradually increased.
Check the Field
The playing field must be inspected before the game to check for holes, glass, or any such unsafe playing conditions. The fences must be checked for sharp edges, and players must be told to let the coach or umpire know of any holes in the field.
Gear Up for Practice and Games
Your child must wear the required safety gear at all times during practice and games. This is one of the most critical factors to minimize baseball injuries.
Most important is a well-fitting helmet while they’re running bases, waiting to bat, or batting. The helmets must have eye protectors, as it significantly reduces the risk of a severe facial, eye, or dental injury. If the helmet has a chin strap, it must be fastened. Every player must wear athletic supporters with a protective cup. (Anzilotti, 2019)
One of the most common injuries in baseball is a concussion. Common signs of a concussion are dizziness, vomiting, or a behavior change. In such cases, the player must be given rest immediately and removed from the practice or the game. It’s important to note that a child may not be knocked out when they suffer a concussion.
Other Safety PPE and Practices
When catching, the child must use a catcher’s mitt, helmet, face mask, chest protectors, shin guards, etc. The child must wear shoes that fit correctly. Loose or shoes that don’t fit well can cause injuries to the feet, ankles, or knees.
Standard, fixed bases must be replaced with safety release bases. This can significantly reduce the base-contact sliding injuries in baseball. For younger players, softer-than-standard baseballs can be used to reduce the risk of injuries.
Players must begin playing only when everyone on the field is ready. If the child is not batting, they must stand or sit behind screens or fencing so they’re not accidentally injured. Children must be encouraged to drink plenty of water before, during, and after the game so they’re well hydrated. (Barton Straus)
Staying Safe During Baseball Season
The number of innings played per week, per season, and per year should be limited as to not create stress injuries. If your child has acute or chronic pain, they must be sidelined and resume playing only after approval by medical personnel.
Coaching is Everyone’s Responsibility
Coaches must enforce all the rules of the game without yelling at the players. The same is true for parents in the stands. We must encourage safe play always and create an atmosphere of healthy competition without too much focus on winning.
Baseball is fun, and the worst thing for a child is to be on the sidelines due to injury. As parents, spectators and coaches, it is critical to follow these basic steps to protect children and reduce preventable injuries. This will allow your child to continue playing the game they love!
Barton Straus, Lindsey. “Many Injuries in Youth Baseball Are Preventable.” MomsTeam, www.momsteam.com/sports/baseball/safety/baseball-safety-how-to-prevent-or-reduce-baseball-injuries?page=0%2C0.
ActiveKidMD. “Baseball Safety • Keeping Kids Safe and Not Out • OC Sports Medicine.” Orange County Pediatric and Sports Medicine Practice, 9 Apr. 2019, activekidmd.com/baseballsafety/.
Anzilotti, “Safety Tips: Baseball (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth.” Edited by Amy W. Anzilotti, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Feb. 2019, kidshealth.org/en/parents/safety-baseball.html.