Texas Living

Safety Lessons to Kick Off Football Season Right

By Jennifer Chappell Smith 8.11.15

There are few things as Texan as Friday night football. But from the peewee leagues to high school teams vying for a state championship, parents watching their children take to the gridiron are experiencing more trepidation than in decades past.

Research shows 7- and 8-year-olds can suffer hits on the football field that are nearly as severe as concussion injuries suffered by adult players. This coupled with talk of long-term concussion injuries at the National Football League (NFL) has parents worried.

Yet the love of the game and its tradition, along with its popularity among players, keep football a mainstream sport in Texas. Peter Contreras, athletic director for The University Interscholastic League (UIL), which monitors the sport in public schools, offers these ways for parents to prepare young football players and keep them as safe as possible.

ŸDon’t let kids go straight from the couch to practice, Contreras says. Purposeful workouts and conditioning ahead of time can prepare them for more intense workouts on the field.

ŸComplete the physical release form during the summer. A pre-football season medical screening is essential, with a form signed by your physician required in seventh grade and the first and third years of high school. Some schools require such a form every year, so check to make sure your student complies.

ŸKeep kids hydrated. Contreras says hydration should start before practice — especially in Texas heat. Make sure young athletes arrive with plenty of fluids in their system.

ŸAcquaint yourself with concussion protocol. Learn what the coaches and team doctors look for in case of a hard hit to the head so that you can help monitor symptoms. The Concussion Recognition & Response™ mobile app may help.

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