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The Time to Prepare for Fall Sports is…Now!

While it may feel like summer break has just started, if you have a young athlete in the family who is involved in a fall sport, the summer is a great time to set them up for a happy, healthy athletic season. A few of these simple steps can save you and yours some hassle – and maybe even injury—once school starts.  

Take Care of the Sports Physical
You’d think that something as simple as taking a kid to see a doctor once a year should not be a source of stress, but those of us who’ve been through it know: annual physicals have their own challenges. From scheduling difficulties to insurance limitations, getting a child in for a physical isn’t always easy, especially if you have more than one child. Here are some tips for success from a sports mom and a pediatric emergency physician: 

  1. Call the doctor’s office and schedule an appointment now, to make sure you have a slot that works for you. The closer it gets to the school year, the more filled up those appointment books get. Many pediatrician offices book out months in advance for well child checkups. If your pediatrician office is already full, ask to get on the cancellation list.
  2. Time the sports physical to align with the general yearly check-up to minimize the amount of time spent at the doctor’s office. If this isn’t possible, check with the doctor’s office and the school – some organizations offer sports-specific physical appointment opportunities that might make things more convenient. 
  3. Check in with your insurance! Some policies won’t pay for a physical unless it’s been a year since the last one.  

Get Active, Stay Active
This is more relevant for older kids, but it’s important to start conditioning during the summer to prepare for the season. High school sports can get pretty intense, and even the most in-shape athletes can struggle if their bodies have been resting for a while. Encouraging your child to keep exercising regularly during the summer months may prevent injury once they’re back on the field in the fall. Not just conditioning, encourage strength and flexibility training as well. 
Help them look up appropriate workouts for the sport they’re participating in and consider joining in, making it a family activity! Could be a great way to spend time together and model good habits. If necessary, reach out to their coach to see if they have any suggestions for summer training opportunities or specific things athletes should be doing to best prepare. 

Check On That Gear
You know it as well as I – children grow faster than mushrooms. The same favorite cleats and pads that worked wonderfully the season before might be a size or two too small now. Or they could be so worn out that they no longer offer the support and protection required to stay safe during play. Here are some gear-related considerations: 

Stock Up On the Good Stuff 
Sports parents know better than most – it’s crucial to be prepared for all emergencies on and off the field. Stock up on first aid essentials in the summer, so you don’t have to worry about it when the back-to-school shopping frenzy begins. Check out my handy guide for creating the perfect on-the-go first aid kit, here! 

Summer is great for slowing down and taking time off. However, being proactive and looking ahead is always a good way to make our lives easier once the pace picks up once again in the fall. Take care of your future self and make sure to get your young athlete set up for the fall sports season early – now!