Safe Kids report puts spotlight on youth sports injuries

Coaches, parents encouraged to focus on safety and prevention
August 20, 2014

Nine out of 10 kids say they have been injured while playing a sport; many are the types of injuries that require medical attention. However, more than half of athletes - 54 percent - say they have continued to play after being injured.

These are some of the shocking details revealed in a report just released by Safe Kids Worldwide where over 3,000 athletes, coaches and parents were surveyed. Safe Kids Delaware is sharing highlights from the report along with important prevention information and resources for parents, teachers, nurses and coaches to keep local kids as safe as possible.

The report says 12 percent of young athletes say they have had a concussion or head injury, and even more report having a headache (28 percent) or dizziness (24 percent) after playing a sport, both possible symptoms of a concussion or dehydration.

Coaches, teachers and nurses can get free resource materials and posters on how to recognize and manage concussion symptoms through the Centers for Disease Control Heads Up campaign at

In addition to the 54 percent who continued to play after an injury, 70 percent of athletes said they told a coach or parent they were injured. However, coaches are not necessarily to blame. The top reasons athletes gave for playing injured were that it wasn’t that bad, they were needed and couldn’t let the team down, and they didn’t want to be benched.

Also, while half of coaches say they have had a player play with an injury, 27 percent say they have had players keep an injury hidden from coaches and parents. More than half of coaches reported they felt pressure from a parent or player to put an athlete back into a game after an injury.

“We need to start the dialogue to change the culture of youth sports, and place more focus on youth safety and injury prevention,” said Jennifer McCue, chair of Safe Kids Delaware, and injury prevention coordinator at AI DuPont Hospital for Children. “This report should serve as a wake-up call to parents as to how serious playing while injured is to their child’s health.”

One of the more interesting revelations in the report were parental misconceptions of coaches’ knowledge of sports injury prevention. Ninety-four percent of parents said their child’s coach was very or fairly knowledgeable about preventing sports injuries, compared to 89 percent of coaches. However, fewer than half of coaches say they have received certification on how to prevent and recognize sport injuries.

Delaware has taken a large step toward advancing this cause with the passage of Senate Bill 205 during this legislative session, which requires the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association to adopt rules and regulations regarding awareness, recognition, and management of sudden cardiac arrest in student athletes.

While the rules aren’t required to take effect until the 2015-16 school year, it will require, among other things, that DIAA host a cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification for all school-appointed head coaches, which includes training on the use of an automated external defibrillator. Also, coaches can take a free online training course on concussions at

The following are Safe Kids Worldwide’s recommendations for reducing sports youth injuries:

• Set the ground rules at the beginning of the season. Coaches should bring together parents and athletes before the season begins to agree on the team’s approach to prevent injuries.

• Teach athletes ways to prevent injuries. Proper technique, strength training, warm-up exercises and stretching can go a long way to prevent injuries.

• Prevent overuse injuries. Encourage athletes to take time off from playing only one sport to prevent overuse injuries and give them an opportunity to get stronger and develop skills learned in another sport.

• Encourage athletes to speak up when they’re injured. Remove injured athletes from play immediately; conduct evaluations and seek appropriate medical attention.

• Put an end to dirty play and rule breaking. Call fouls that could cause injuries.

• Get certified. Learn first aid, CPR, AED use and injury prevention skills.

“We’re encouraging parents to ask more questions of coaches and discuss the importance of not playing after an injury occurs with their children,” said McCue. The public can read the report at