Prepare your child now for a successful and safe football season. Football offers lots of benefits like teamwork and physical fitness, but it’s a sport with a high chance of injury.
If your child needs a sports physical prior to joining their football team, visit Margaret Lubega, MD, of First Pediatric Care Center in Gastonia, North Carolina. During this physical, she assesses their physical readiness and risk of injury due to underlying conditions, like asthma, or muscle imbalances.
Here are some ways Dr. Lubega suggests you can help your child prepare for the season so it’s a successful year.
Keep your child moving in the off-season
Your child doesn’t have to do football-specific training all year round, but they should maintain an active lifestyle to keep up a strong fitness level. Maybe they enjoy swimming, biking, or playing another sport during the summer. You can also keep them off the couch (and their devices) by giving them active chores like washing the car or mowing the lawn.
Keeping a solid level of fitness makes it easier for them to slide into training in the fall.
Off-season fitness may also include sprinting and jumping drills as well as age-appropriate strength training. If Dr. Lubega approves, you may want to enlist a trainer at your local fitness facility who has experience working with people your child’s age to guide this training.
Encourage proper nutrition
A diligent nutrition plan isn’t usually necessary for middle or high school football players, but following a well-rounded eating plan is important for good energy, healthy muscles, and proper weight.
Guide your child to avoid bulking with sugary drinks, processed snacks, and fast food. Instead, instill a love for healthy carbohydrates, like oatmeal and brown rice, as well as fruits and vegetables.
Quality protein from poultry, lean beef, and eggs as well as healthy fats found in avocados and peanut butter round out an active kid’s diet. Of course there’s always room for the occasional pizza night and fast food, but encourage a healthy diet the vast majority of the time.
Help your child get the sleep they need
Kids and teens require a little extra sleep to support their developing bodies. The National Sleep Foundation recommends school-aged children get 9-11 hours per night and teens sleep 8-10 hours per night. Athletes should aim for the higher end of these recommendations, as sleep is an essential time for physical recovery from exertion and muscle development.
Football-age kids are also notorious for staying up late watching videos or playing online games with their friends. Set some limits to help your footballer set a smart, quality sleep schedule.
Outfit them with the right gear
Football is a contact sport which increases your child’s risk of injury. Get them the proper gear before they head to practice. Their coach should present them with a comprehensive list, which will include:
- Shoulder pads
- Jockstrap and cup
- Neck collar
- Hip, thigh, and knee pads
- Knee-high football socks
Your child’s team may have specific colors or types that they require, so always check with the team administrators before going on a full shopping spree.
Finally, make sure you set up an appointment at our office so your child can get the sports physical that clears them for play. Call us at First Pediatric Care Center or book the appointment online.