Research was recently conducted on nearly 100 deceased NFL players, and the results showed that over 95% tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). With this recent rise in CTE recognition, parents are more concerned than ever about children playing contact sports — and justifiably so. Thankfully there are many great alternatives to keep children fit and safe. If you want to help your children lead healthy, active lifestyles without a high risk of injury, these four safe sports may be just what you’re looking for.
Volleyball has a relatively low injury rate compared to other sports. That fact, paired with its growing popularity — especially among girls — makes volleyball a good option to keep kids safe while they exercise. Plus, because volleyball is all about working as a team to accomplish a goal, it’s a perfect opportunity for kids to develop a cooperative mindset without the risks associated with more dangerous team sports.
To maximize safety and reduce the likelihood of injury when playing volleyball, make sure your child stretches well both before and after playing. Additionally, encourage your player to stay hydrated — it’s especially easy for young kids to forget about the importance of getting enough water.
Many think golf is mainly for retired adults, but the sport is actually great for players of all ages. Though it’s largely considered an individual endeavor, golfing can be a very social activity, and it will also help your child get plenty of outdoor time on beautiful golf courses.
Though major golfing injuries are rare, young golfers shouldn’t be too cavalier when developing their swinging techniques. Improper methods can lead to tendonitis or pain in the shoulders, hands, and wrists. To warm up before golfing, your child should engage in some light cardio exercise like walking, jogging, or even doing a few jumping jacks. Golfers should always stay hydrated, too, especially if they’re playing on a longer course under the hot sun.
Tennis is a physically and mentally demanding sport that will keep your child fit and minimize risk of injury. It gives kids a chance to develop speed, agility, and strength, and it can be played either individually or in teams.
Despite not being an inherently dangerous sport, it’s important for your child to learn proper techniques and stretches to avoid injuries like tennis elbow, which can damage tendons in forearm muscles. Dress is also incredibly important in tennis — your child will need shoes that can support the ankle and allow for quick changes of direction, plus padded socks for comfort. You should also remind your young player to dry their racket handle frequently to avoid blistering.
4. Competitive Swimming
Swimming is one of the top 10 most popular high school sports for both genders. It’s also the second fastest growing sport in the country, which suggests that swimming is both approachable and sustainable. With proper training, swimming can also be a pretty safe exercise activity.
To avoid injuries like swimmer’s shoulder, your child should use good stroke techniques, stretch before getting in the pool, and take advantage of rest periods to recover. If one particular stroke seems to be causing discomfort, encourage your child to try out other stroke types. This will allow the overworked muscles to relax while simultaneously expanding your child’s swimming abilities. More than anything, though, make sure your child never swims unsupervised — a lifeguard should always be present.
When played correctly, sports can help your child live an active and happy lifestyle. Consider some of the above activities and precautions to help your child get involved with a safe sport they love.
Written by Hillary Johnston
A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more