Alanna Waters, lacrosse coach at Metro Lacrosse, is the head varsity coach of the organization’s girls’ lacrosse team. As such, she takes the responsibility of assisting her players in avoiding injuries very seriously and strives to provide the proper education and support that her athletes need to help them keep their bodies in top shape and maximize their performance on the field. Naturally, she was drawn to an article published by The Huffington Post regarding hidden sports dangers and how to avoid these risks. Here, Waters offers these tips to readers and provides a statement sharing her own insight into the best ways to reduce injuries among young athletes.
Keeping players safe against injury means more than just calling upon safety equipment and engaging in fair play; the article explains: “When it comes to sports safety, everyone is well aware of the danger concussions pose and, for the most part, how to prevent them. But there are many other oft-overlooked safety risks lurking about that just might sideline your young athlete if you’re not vigilant.
“The key to staying safe and having fun is being aware of potential pitfalls. Two of the most commonly overlooked sports-related snafus are overuse injuries and temperature-related troubles, such as heatstroke and frostbite.”
The article goes on to provide seven tips to assist athletes in preventing these and other injuries. These tips include: properly warming up and cooling down before and after a workout, paying attention to proper technique and form, staying active in the off-season, engaging in cross training, staying hydrated, addressing pain immediately and refraining from playing during extreme weather conditions (including extreme heat and cold).
Waters believes that these are wonderful tips for parents, coaches and other adults who are guiding young athletes in their development. Warming up and cooling down before and after a workout, whether it is just a run or a full game, is important in preventing injuries like sprains and strains. Likewise, paying close attention to proper form allows players to keep their bodies in shape and reduces the odds of developing overuse injuries. Waters encourages coaches to provide players with tips for improving their form as soon as they notice an improper technique to quickly break them of any bad habits.
Engaging in cross training is a wonderful way to stay active during the off-season, and as such Waters recommends combining tips number three and four. She states that, for instance, lacrosse players might engage in football during the off-season. This allows them to stay active all year while building skills that will complement their performance on the lacrosse field. Additionally, having kids engage in non-organized sports, such as games of tag in the back yard and friendly games of basketball with neighbors, is another great way to keep them off of the couch and allow them to protect themselves against injury.
Alanna Waters, lacrosse coach, stresses, particularly, the importance of staying hydrated for young athletes. Many kids are not aware of the amount of water that they need to consume during a game, so it is crucial that coaches, parents and other adults encourage these young athletes to drink water throughout their games and practices. This is particularly important, Waters asserts, when the weather is hot and athletes are playing outside—an issue that jumps ahead to tip number seven. Waters encourages coaches to remain responsible when having athletes play in weather that is extremely warm or extremely cold. Squeezing one more practice in before a big game, she explains, is simply not worth the risk if doing so puts your athletes in harm’s way.
Finally, Waters makes it a point to encourage her players to stop if they feel any pain. While the phrase “play through the pain” has become quite popular, the truth is that doing so can lead to substantial injuries. She recommends that athletes seek the assistance of their coaches in addressing pain right away.
“Young athletes have their whole careers before them,” comments Waters. “It is a shame that these ‘hidden’ injuries can cut these careers short. As such, I strongly urge all coaches, parents and other adults to keep an eye on young athletes and encourage these players to abide by these tips.”
Alanna Waters, lacrosse coach, recommends that coaches educate their players regarding these and other safety tips to best protect them against injury.
Alanna Waters is currently serving as the head varsity girls’ lacrosse coach at Metro Lacrosse. This is a non-profit organization that strives to improve social and economic gaps in urban environments by encouraging youth to achieve their personal, athletic and educational goals. Founded in 2000, the organization has, for over 12 years, excelled in its efforts to balance the opportunities provided to the youth of urban Boston with those that suburban residents enjoy. Ms. Water looks forward to continuing to assist this organization in achieving its goals and boosting the success of its participants.