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Injury prevention in youth ice hockey

young hockey playersExtremity injuries and traumatic brain injuries are common in youth hockey according to a Mayo Clinic Study. Most injuries result from intentional contact according to the same study. Over the years, USA Hockey, the regulating body for youth hockey has taken different measures to make the game safer. Body checks which are causing the most dramatic injuries are now forbidden for players under 14 years old. Penalties have also been increased for contact with another player’s head. However if the rules are not enforced injuries will continue to happen.

It is the share responsibility of the coaches, the referees and the parents to make sure that the game is safe for the kids.

Coaches are responsible to develop good sportsmanship among players instead of a culture of intimidation.  A good coach will focus on developing skills and respect for opponents.

In youth competition the referees have to make sure the rules are enforced. Referees play a very important role  in making sure that young players focus on the game and don’t hurt each other. In a recent article the Center for Injury Research and Prevention talked about youth hockey injury prevention with Ian Walsh, a referee for the National Hockey League. The veteran referee explained how injuries can be prevented by providing young players with a safe environment.

Parents also play an important role in preventing their children from being injured in the game. USA Hockey notes that too many parents are buying oversized protective gear for their children so they can last several years. This may be a cheaper option but when the pads are too big or too tight they do not adequately protect children. Parents also play the most important role in making sure that their children are recovering proprely in case of injury. More and more studies are showing that a lot of rest is needed after a concussion. Pushing a child to go back to hockey practice too quickly after an injury may only make things worst.

Picture source: flickr