Gioia and Young advised parents to be alert to any changes in a child's behavior in the moments after a blow to the head or body that causes the head to jerk forward, which can cause a concussion. Most of the time, the player will not lose consciousness, but may appear dazed, stunned or simply out of sorts.
"As a parent, I would embarrass my child or I would embarrass the coach if I think they're acting differently," Young said. "There's a tremendous pressure to stay on the field and that's why in many ways, athletes are not the best judges [of their abilities]. In fact, in many ways, they're the worst judges."
To prevent heat stroke, which can occur during heavy exertion and high temperatures, kids should monitor their urine color before practices and games to calculate their fluid needs, said Douglas Casa, chief operating officer of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut.
Athletes should aim to drink enough fluids for their urine to be the color of lemonade rather than the color of apple juice, Casa said. Water is fine for events under an hour, he added, while sports drinks such as Gatorade are a better pick for events longer than an hour that require more electrolytes.
Overuse injuries -- such as the so-called pitcher's elbow -- are caused by repetitive muscle and joint movements that break down tissue without giving it a chance to heal, Casa said. Safe Kids USA recommends that young athletes take 10 weeks off per year from the same sport played over multiple seasons.
Children involved in team sports spend an average of 7.4 hours each week practicing or playing in games, with boys spending about 20 percent more time than girls, and 10- to 14-year-olds spending significa
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