Safety Tips: Football

Football is a great way to be part of a team and stay physically active. But football is a contact sport, so injuries do happen. Doctors and scientists are studying how repeatedly hitting the head during tackling affects the brain. These injuries can cause serious brain problems later in life. Recent changes in training techniques and rules may help lower the risk of brain injury.Players and their families need to decide whether the risks of football outweigh the benefits. If you decide to play football, follow these tips to help prevent injuries.

Helmet. All football helmets should have a hard plastic outer shell and a thick layer of padding. Helmets should meet the safety standards developed by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). The coach or a trained professional at a sporting goods store can make sure you get a helmet that meets these standards and fits well.

Helmets also should have a rigid facemask made from coated carbon steel. The facemask needs to be secured to the helmet. There are different face masks for different positions and purposes. Ask the coach which is best for you.

Pants with leg pads. Players should wear pads on their hips, thighs, knees, and tailbone. Some football pants include pads that snap into place or fit into pockets within the pants. Other pants are shells that are pulled over the pads.

Shoulder pads. Football shoulder pads should have a hard plastic shell with thick padding.Shoes. Different leagues have different rules about the type of shoes and cleats (non-detachable or detachable) players can use. Check with your coach and consult your league's guidelines about which types of shoes are allowed.Mouthguard. All football leagues require players to use a mouthguard. Get one with a keeper strap that attaches it securely to the facemask.

Safe Football Training

Limit the amount of contact during practices.Insist that players follow the current safety rules on tackling.Not allow helmet-to-helmet or helmet-to-body contact.Insist all players use the right protective gear, particularly a helmet that fits well and is in good condition.

Get a sports physical before starting any new sport.Always warm up and stretch before playing.Learn and use proper techniques, especially how to tackle and how to absorb a tackle and fall to the ground safely.Stop training if they get hurt or feel pain. Hurt players need to get checked by an athletic trainer, coach, doctor, or nurse before going back on the field. Stay hydrated, particularly on hot, sunny days, by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after games and practices.Know the team plan for emergencies. Play different sports throughout the year to prevent overuse injuries.

Follow all safety rules used during practice.Know the rules of the game and follow them.Be respectful of the referees and not argue with their calls.Stay calm if an opposing player seems to be trying to injure them on purpose. Let their coach and the referee know, and let them handle the situation.