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STEPHANIE OAKES

Especially for Young Athletes: A Game Plan to Play It Safe

March 26, 2001|STEPHANIE OAKES

Question: My 11-year-old son is getting ready to begin his baseball season. He's played before without any injuries, but there were a couple of kids on his team last year who got injured. I'm a little bit nervous about the upcoming season. Do you have any safety suggestions?

--PAM MIRMELSTEIN

Irvine

Answer: I understand your concerns--there are risks in every sport. Last year, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, more than 138,000 baseball and softball players under age 15 sought treatment in hospital emergency rooms.

But with a few precautions, parents and children can prevent most injuries. SafeUSA, a public and private safety partnership, has these tips for parents of baseball and softball players:

* Make sure your child warms up before each game.

* Teach your child it's not cool to play through pain. If your child does get injured, see your doctor.

* Make sure first aid is available at all games and practices.

* Talk with--and watch--your child's coach. Coaches should enforce all the rules of the game and encourage safe play.

* Make sure your child wears all the required safety gear every time she or he plays or practices. (There's good news on this front. New equipment called OSi chest protectors can help prevent sometimes fatal injuries caused by a blunt, nonpenetrating object--such as a ball--striking the chest. The equipment molds itself to a child's body, providing unrestricted movement even as it serves as a shield. The OSi protectors are made by a number of major manufacturers, including Nike, Adidas, Rawlings and Schutt.)

Once you've taken these precautions, both parents and children should relax--and enjoy their games.

*

Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/fitness consultant. To submit a fitness-related question, e-mail stephoakes@aol.com. She cannot respond to every query.

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