This lesson helps young people understand the equipment they need to stay safe during different sports and activities. They will color images of athletes and then label the different gear that keeps them safe.
Explain to the youth that using the wrong or improperly fitted equipment is a major cause for injuries in playing games and sports. For example playing tennis with a badly strung racquet while wearing worn-out shoes can be just as dangerous as playing football without shoulder pads!
Ask young people if they can think of any equipment they have used or have seen others wear while playing sports or doing other physical activities.
Remind young people that before wearing protective equipment or playing, they should always check equipment for proper fit and replace worn out equipment. For example, replace a child’s bike helmet if it:
- has been in a bike accident
- is damaged from being used (such as cracked or dented).
Activity: Staying Safe Coloring Sheet
Distribute the Staying Safe Coloring Sheet. As you walk through the different kinds of equipment below, have the youth color the athletes and label the different gear that keeps them safe.
Here are the “Most Valuable Pieces” of equipment that you need to know about.
- Always wear a helmet made for the sport you are playing.
- Bike helmets should have a CPSC sticker. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) set up the federal safety standard that all bike helmets must meet. Helmets that meet this standard will have this sticker attached.
- Helmets should fit snugly but comfortably on your head and shouldn’t tilt backward or forward.
- Eye gear for sports is made from a plastic called polycarbonate.
- Facemasks, either a guard or shield, attached to helmets should also be made of polycarbonate.
- Goggles should be worn to cover prescription eye glasses. You can also purchase prescription polycarbonate goggles.
- Mouth guards can protect your mouth, teeth and tongue.
- Mouth guards should be worn in contact sports.
- If you wear a retainer always take it out before you start to exercise, practice or play.
Wrist, Knee, and Elbow Guards or Pads:
- You should wear guards or pads when doing any activity that requires moving on wheels, such as skateboarding.
- Guards or pads can prevent breaks, cuts, and absorb shock from falls.
- Guards or pads should fit snugly and comfortably.
- Boys who play contact sports should wear a protective cup.
- Boys should wear an athletic supporter when playing non-contact sports that involve running.
- If you are unsure, ask your coach if you need a protective cup for your sport.
- Football, baseball, softball and soccer are some sports that require cleats.
- Skateboarding and biking have special types of shoes that are best for performing well.
- Replace cleat and shoes that have worn out or are no longer supportive.
Activity: Safety Tips
Here are a few other tips to keep from getting hurt while playing sports.
Warm Up for Injury-Free Play: Muscles that have not been warmed up the right way tend to be injured more easily.
- Start out with some light cardiovascular activities, such as easy jogging, jumping jacks, or brisk walking, to get your muscles moving and blood circulating.
- Follow your warm-up with some stretches. Stretching works best after a warm-up because your ligaments and tendons are more elastic (flexible) due to the increase in heat and blood flow to the muscle.
- Do not over do your play, game or sport. If you increase how often, how long or how hard you play too fast, you might see better performance at first, but this can lead to injuries later.
Stay Off the Court When You Are Hurt: If you have been injured and you try to come back too soon, you run the risk of re-injuring yourself – maybe even more seriously than before.
- Concussion: A concussion is a blow to the head that affects how the brain works. A concussion can also happen after a hit to the body that causes the head to move quickly back and forth. Because you cannot see this type of injury, it is easy to come back too soon from a concussion. Always listen to your doctor and get the OK from him or her to play again.
- Pain relief: Some athletes use pain relievers to avoid pain. Pain is your body’s way of signaling it is not happy with what you are doing. If you have pain, get treatment so you can fix what’s causing it.
The Rules of the Game: Rules are made to keep you and your teammates in the game and to avoid injuries. Follow all the rules to have a safe season.
- Rules are made to promote safety so that everyone can enjoy the game.
- You need to follow other rules even if they don’t relate to the sport. For example, if you are inline skating on a public street, pay strict attention to all traffic laws.
- You need to use the right techniques when playing a sport. This will help you or your opponent not get injured. For example, when playing football, always keep your head up when tackling, neck injuries are common when players tackle with head down. In hockey, high sticking is a violation because it can be dangerous to other players. The right technique would be to keep the stick below waist level. It is also important to use the right technique when lifting weights. This will keep you from holding your breath and possibly fainting.
Whether you are following rules, regulations, or proper techniques, remember that they are not there to restrict you, they are there to keep you safe and injury free.
Ask the young people to think of one way they will keep themselves safe during sports or other activities this week. If time permits, allow the youth to share their reflections. Conclude the lesson by reminding young people that rules and protective equipment are not there to restrict you, they are there to keep you safe and injury free!
Continuing the Conversation
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing ways they will stay safe during sports and other activities.
Related Health Powered Kids Blog
Staying safe during physical activity
Additional Instructor Resources
Concussions in Sports: What You Should Know
Exercise Safety Tips video