Your child is excited to play sports during the summer — soccer, basketball, baseball, football or whatever the case may be. Should you simply sign them up for the very first team that you stumble upon? Definitely not! There’s an important issue that deserves your consideration. What is it?

The coach. After all, this individual is the one who’s responsible for ensuring that each child is safe — including yours. It’s important, then, that before enrolling your child, you do a thorough assessment as a precaution. What kind of things should you be looking for, though?

Evaluating the Coach

A good, safety-conscious sports coach should:

– Start each practice and game with a warm up. This is the most basic of precautions but it’s vital nonetheless. An appropriate warm up relaxes tension in the muscles and helps to prevent injuries.

– Be able to recognize the signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion.
 Dehydration and heat exhaustion can lead to fainting. Symptoms for both include sluggishness, sunken eyes, weakness, dizziness, and confusion. Heat exhaustion — a precursor to heatstroke — can also cause headaches, muscle or abdominal cramps and nausea.- Be able to recognize symptoms of a concussion. Temporary loss of consciousness, vomiting, confusion, dizziness, slurred speech, ringing in the ears and amnesia are all symptoms of a concussion. There are also many more, however. You’ll want to be sure that the sports coach you choose is aware of the signs and will seek medical attention for your child if a concussion is suspected.

– Emphasize solid health habits as a basis for success in sports. Winning is not the most important thing; your child’s health is. Therefore, you wouldn’t want a coach who encourages unhealthy or extreme eating or exercise habits, for example.

– Know to what degree athletes can be pushed without going too far.
 Yes, a good coach does push athletes to improve their skills. However, he/she should have a good sense of just how much he/she can push each individual without putting them at risk.

– Have a strong positive influence. Your child’s coach should be a positive role model, practicing healthy habits themselves. However, they should also instill good values in your child, teaching the value of teamwork, good sportsmanship, etcetera.

Preparing Your Child

Should you focus your attention only on the coach? Of course not! You should also take steps to prepare your child.

– Get your child a preparticipation exam. Before your child even begins playing a sport, it would be wise to have him or her examined by a medical professional. This could identify any potential reasons for concern so that you can act accordingly.

– Remind them to stay hydrated. Provide your child with enough water or an electrolyte-rich drink such as Gatorade. Remind them to stay well-hydrated throughout the day, as well as during practice and games.

– Encourage them to communicate with the coach if they aren’t feeling well. Encourage your child to let an adult or the coach know if they are feeling ill or have been injured. Speaking up will no doubt go a long way in helping the coach to make sure that all athletes are safe.

We’re sure that your child’s health is very important to you. It should be just as important to the sports coach that you choose. By using the above suggestions, you can find the right coach for your kid — one that has a balanced view of safety, fun and success.