Baseball Season Is Here: Take Steps to Protect Student Athletes

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The culmination of college basketball season might be tonight, but many across the country have already turned their attention to a different sport:  baseball.  When people think about safety issues, baseball usually isn’t at the forefront of their minds.  But the truth is, injuries can be quite common.  If you have a son or daughter playing baseball or softball, there are some precautions you can take to make sure he or she won’t be injured.

One of the first things you should do to protect your student athlete is invest in the appropriate equipment.  That starts with their helmet.  Of course a player should wear the helmet while they’re at bat, but they might also wear one when they run the bases, when they’re on deck, or even when they’re pitching.  Leagues may require this type of extensive protection, but if not, it’s not a bad idea.  The helmet itself should fit correctly and enable the wearer to see their environment without obstruction.

Bats should adhere to the rules set forth by the league to ensure that a ball can’t be hit so hard that it might endanger other players.  When purchasing cleats, choose plastic over metal, as the metal ones are more dangerous during sliding.  Catchers need to stock up on equipment that protects the chest, legs, and face.  Cups are another necessity for all players, and optional equipment might include sliding pants, batting gloves, and mouth and shin guards.

Many precautions can be impressed upon children.  Batting, for instance, puts the hitter in danger of being winged with a ball, but the danger can be mitigated with the proper coaching.  Kids should be taught how to get out of the way of a ball coming toward their head.  The best method might be to turn away to expose one’s back and protect one’s head.  When running bases, runners should keep their heads up so as to be aware of any line drives or errantly thrown balls headed their way so that they’re not injured.

Parents should inquire as to whether their child’s league utilizes breakaway bases, which tend to limit the sliding danger presented when a child careens into a fixed base.  Without any sort of give, a player can be exposed to serious leg injuries.  But when the base breaks away, the child is kept safer than they otherwise would be.

Finally, umpires should be qualified to keep the game in check, and adults should supervise all activities, even practice.  First aid kits should be on hand at all times, and adults should be ready to go into action to transport a child to the emergency room or call 911 as necessary.