5 Spring Sport Safety Tips for Athletic Trainers

Posted by: Earth Networks
  • Mar 16, 2017

Are You Ready?

Spring sports safety - track

With the sport season already underway, it’s important that you ask yourself if you’re ready for spring sport safety. It’s your job as athletic trainer to protect your students from sports-related injuries and help them recover for them. While you’re probably just coming off of the winter season of basketball and wrestling, the demands of the spring season are a bit different. Both high-contact sports like lacrosse as well as low-contact sports like softball and baseball are just as important to be prepared for. Not to mention, outdoor practice puts your student athletes and coaches at the mercy of the elements.

5 Spring Sport Safety Tips

Spring sports cover softball, baseball, lacrosse, track and field, golf and tennis normally. While all of these sports are different, the following tips will help you protect athletes in each. If you have any more tips, feel free to share this post on your social media channel adding on your own tip.

1. Refresh

Make sure you or your athletic director gets spring team coaches together for a quick refresher on policies and protocol. As an athletic trainer, you are a part of every coaching staff and it’s your responsibility to help make sure your coaches are following protocol. It’s definitely not the most enjoyable part of the being athletic trainer, but if you’re not aware of all of the policies, then are you really doing your job?

2. Keep your kids hydrated

This first tip is the most important. Hydration is key for every athlete no matter the season. That’s because staying hydrated helps keep bodies at the correct temperature and reduces muscle cramps. Hydrating during practice, however is not good enough. Remind athletes to drink enough water before and after practice as well. There aren’t rules, per say, that outline how much each person needs to consume. That’s because each body is different. Body weight, heat, humidity and the amount a person sweats all contribute to the water amount.

Below are some hydration tips for your student athletes.

  • Bring a refillable water bottle to school and fill it up at every water fountain/refill station
  • Drink an entire water bottle full at lunch
  • Drink more water on the way to practice
  • Don’t skip water breaks! Drink when coach allows you to take a break
  • If you’re active for more than 60 minutes, you may need to re-hydrate with a sports drink that includes carbohydrates, sodium and potassium
  • If you feel any signs of dehydration during practice like muscle cramps, coordination decline or a reduction in athletic performance stop and get water

If you’d like to download a poster with this tips to hang up around your school, please fill out the below form:

3. Remind your coaches to take breaks

Sometimes, even the best coaches forget that athlete safety is paramount to winning the state title. Breaks for hydration and high temperatures are both important. Have your coaches set up a break every 15-20 minutes of activity so athletes can consume 8 ounces of fluids.

When the temperature starts to climb, remind your coaches to take breaks based on the wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT). Wet bulb globe temperature is a measure of the heat stress in direct sunlight. It takes into account temperature, humidly, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover. WBGT is the best measure to make outdoor recreation-related decisions on.

Spring sport safety - wet bulb globe temperature suggestion actions and impact prevention guide

4. Keep an eye on the skies

Spring thunderstorms and tornadoes pose a large threat to practices and games. While it’s pretty easy to look at the sky and see if a storm is coming, fast moving storms are common and deadly for athletes far away from shelter. Plus, lightning can strike from a clear blue sky. That’s because lightning can strike from up to 10 miles away from a storm. If your school doesn’t have one already, you should look into a weather monitoring and alerting system. Our solution includes customized alert proximity and a way for athletic trainers to share real-time weather observations with coaches, school staff and athletic trainers from visiting schools.

5. Look out for heat illnesses

Other than storms, the environment also can increase the risk for heat illnesses in the spring and summer seasons especially. While dehyration is technically a heat-related illness, there are other severe heat illnesses as well. One of the top 3 reasons athletes die during sports is heat extertion stroke. This quick killer is normally a result of poor heat acclimization procedures. Another deadly heat related illness is heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after someone has been exposed to high temperatures. This happens as a result of two scenarios: Water depletion or salt depletion.

Common signs of heat-related illnesses include:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Profuse sweating
  • Hot, red skin
  • Hyperventilation
  • Loss of balance
  • Paid pulse
  • Possible loss of consciousness

6. BONUS TIP: Wear different sunglasses

High school kids can be brutal and so can the sun. While this safety tip is mainly for you to protect your ego, we still think it’s a good one. Bring two pairs of different shaped sunglasses to work. In the spring, we know you spend a lot of time outdoors with your various teams. Alternating between two different shaped pairs of sunglasses will ensure you don’t get an embarrassing tan line.