When it comes to contact sports, hockey is arguably one of the most violent and aggressive options. This is part of what draws young boys to the sport and it’s an excellent outlet for their seemingly endless supply of energy. However, the sport certainly isn’t free from safety risks. With that being said, its up to parents to make safety a priority.
The Need for Better Safety
While the health and injury risks in football are getting most of the attention right now, hockey is arguably just as violent. This article isn’t designed to scare you, but as a parent, there are three risks you need to know about.
- Concussions. Perhaps the biggest danger is that of concussions. Injuries to the head don’t just cause initial symptoms like a headache, nausea, and vision-related disorders, but they can also lead to brain damage down the road.
- Dehydration. While hot-weather sports such as football and soccer generally come to mind when discussing dehydration, hockey players are equally as susceptible. The troubling thing is that, because of the cold temperatures on the rink, the warning signs aren’t always immediately apparent.
- Staph infections. Finally, staph infections are always a risk to players, especially when players don’t properly clean equipment and then swap it with other teammates.
These are three of the most common health and safety risks. If you’re able to reduce your child’s susceptibility to concussions, dehydration, and staph infections, then you’ve done your job as a parent.
Three Smart Tips for Parents
How can you ensure your children are safe while practicing and playing the game they love? Keep these three simple tips in the back of your mind:
Buy the Right Equipment
The great news is that most impact-related injuries can be prevented simply by wearing the right equipment. As a parent, make sure you’re doing your research and making educated purchase decisions for your children. There are tons of different selections, but not all equipment is created equal.
Good skates, sticks, helmets, shoulder pads, gloves, wrist guards, pants, shin guards, pant shells, visors, and even jocks are all necessary for adequate protection. Its better to spend a little bit more if it means protecting your child’s future.
Encourage Proper Warm Ups
Getting dressed in the right equipment and immediately hitting the ice isn’t preferred. If kids aren’t careful, this can lead to muscle injuries. Ensure your child is following an approved warm-up routine prior to playing. Some of the most important muscle groups to stretch include the hip and groin area, back and torso, and hamstrings.
Meet With Coaches to Discuss Rules
There’s a reason why tripping, hooking, slashing, high-sticking and cross-checking bring penalties, KidsHealth explains. Hockey sticks can easily go from being a piece of equipment to being a dangerous weapon. Be sure that your kids know all the rules governing the use of sticks and follow them to the letter.
As Hall of Fame coach David Houle explains, “As a parent, I would encourage you to meet with your child’s coach to discuss their stance on important safety issues. One thing you want to be sure of is that the coach is teaching them the proper way to play the game. This means having zero tolerance for fighting and dangerous penalties. Anything they learn now will have an impression on them in the future.”
Make Safety a Personal Priority
As a parent, you want your child to have fun. But more importantly, you want them to be safe while having fun. From a young age, its imperative that you stress the significance of safety to your children and do everything possible to nudge them in the right direction.
It all starts at home. If you make it a priority, so will they.