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Sports Safety: Tips From Trainers—Part I

June 14, 2013

By Otesa Miles

You’ve probably heard the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The National Athletic Trainers Association has the same philosophy when it comes to keeping youth safe while playing sports. On May 15, 2013, the group released its tips to “keep athletes safe in the game.”

At Shaka Smart Basketball Camps, it is also our goal to ensure that our participants are safe, have fun and play lots of basketball. As the premiere Richmond basketball summer camp, we take pride in enforcing safety rules and encourage parents to share these tips from the NATA with their young ball players:

    1. Ensure that players are mentally and physically ready to play. Physically, this means their bodies need to be able to withstand the consistent activity. Mentally, this means that the student wants to play. Also if a player is returning from injury, be sure not to rush them back and that they are comfortable playing again.
    2. Have a doctor’s exam prior to playing. Most school teams require the “pre-participation exam.” This ensures that young players are physically able to play or the exam will uncover conditions that may limit participation.
    3. Find out who is the correct person to notify in case of an injury and ask about their credentials. At Shaka Smart Basketball Camps, campers should tell their coaches immediately if they are injured or feel ill. Coaches will then inform Eddie Benion, VCU’s assistant athletic director for sports medicine who is a certified athletic trainer by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and has his bachelor’s degree in nutrition and physical fitness. Benion came to VCU in 2010 after six years as head athletic trainer for Cleveland State University. He also worked as head trainer for Alabama A&M and East Lansing High School in Michigan. He was a graduate assistant on the training staff at Michigan State and interned with the National Football League’s New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs.
    4. If sports will be played outside in the heat, allow players a two-week period to gradually adjust to the warm weather. This will slowly increase the athletes’ ability to play in the heat. Fortunately, at Shaka Smart Basketball Camps all activities will take place inside of the comfortably air-conditioned Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond.
    5. Encourage players to alert someone immediately if they have any of symptoms of a head injury, including dizziness, loss of memory and fatigue.
    6. The NATA also recommends that sudden cardiac arrest should be suspected in any athlete who collapses and doesn’t respond. They should be treated with a defibrillator within three to five minutes. In the Stuart C. Siegel Center, there are multiple defibrillators, also known as automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs.
    7. Parents have the responsibility of sharing the athlete’s medical history, providing their emergency contact information along with granting permission for emergency medical care in the event it is necessary.
    8. Regularly check sports and medical equipment to ensure that it remains in safe, working order. At Shaka Smart Basketball Camps, the young players practice and play their games on the same court as the VCU Rams. The floors and all equipment are regularly inspected and repairs and replacements are made as needed.

This is the first half of the safety tips. The NATA made eight more recommendations to keep youth athletes safe, which we will share in our next post.

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