Better safe than on the sideline

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff
tbrown@starhq.com

   With the prep football season rapidly approaching and conditioning coaches everywhere preparing to hit the weight rooms for other sports, a renewed focus must be taken to ensure the safety of our young athletes.
   Every year the hopes of our local schools are held hostage due to the fear of injury. Due to the small size of the typical rosters, local clubs are susceptible to season altering injuries.
   In the sprit of health and to help our young athletes remain injury free, here are a few tips to keep our young ones free of flaws.
   1: Get in good condition before going on the field. With good conditioning and plenty of strength, the chance of injury will be less due to the athlete being prepared. If joints are loose due to insufficient muscle, then they are more prone to tear or be strained.
   2: Stretch no less than 20 minutes before strenuous activity. A minute of mild jogging and 15-20 minutes of quality stretching should be a prerequisite for strenuous physical activity. Muscle tears and strains as well as tendon and ligament problems can be avoided if a proper stretching regiment is in place.
   3: Stay hydrated. Frequent water breaks are not only much-needed timeouts, but they are good for you. Staying hydrated helps your mind stay sharp and helps to ward off muscle cramping. If the conditions are unusually hot, then cool off with more frequent water breaks to prevent heat stroke.
   4: Be aggressive and confident. This is my biggest piece of advice. If you play full speed and are relaxed on the field, you are much less prone to be injured. Those individuals who are timid and are unsure of what to do on the field are more prone to injury. Being tense and unconfident make any player a victim. Be comfortable with the game plan and be sure of yourself. Its the safest way to play ball
   5: Finally, do not be afraid to seek medical attention. Players have went entire seasons aggravating injuries that could have been fixed with a simple prescription or some therapy. We play football to have fun, but we must take care of our bodies. It takes courage to play hurt, but it takes an idiot to play injured.
   I wish that we could play our full ten-game schedules and do so injury free, but it is inevitable that our local teams will suffer some injures. Some of which will be serious ones.
   Keep these guidelines in mind this season and perhaps we will all enjoy better football games -- football games free from crutches and stitches.