What’s the Safest Sport for Kids?

By Phill Powell

Parents want what’s best for their kids, and a healthy lifestyle requires lots of exercise. Sports are great for kids and instill positive values and life lessons, in addition to providing ample amounts of exercise for growing bodies.

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Parents have to weigh a lot of factors when determining what sports their child should play.

But parents also want what’s safe for their kids, and the plain fact is that some sports contain more hazards than others.

While all sports offer the potential for physical injury of some type or another, the trick is to find the sport that offers the greatest amount of exercise benefits with the least risk for serious injury.

Making Contact with Sports
Perhaps the single-most important factor in determining the safety of a sport is whether or not that sport is a contact sport. Contact sports, by their definition, require that players face off against each other in physical confrontation.

The degree of contact varies per sport, with American-style football providing the greatest amount of direct impact, with ice hockey and basketball following behind.

Trailing them would be the limited-contact sports – such as soccer, lacrosse and baseball – in which players often have incidental contact with other players, although the games themselves don’t require that contact.

Staying Off the Injured List
It should be noted that even non-contact sports and sports requiring no interaction with other athletes can still produce injuries. Golfers, for example, can sustain repetitive-use injuries and runners can suffer from tendon and ligament problems.

Among contact sports, team-based soccer programs seem to offer fewer serious injuries than sports such as football and basketball.

A 2007 injury study (reported in the American Journal of Sports Medicine) evaluated soccer-related injuries during a 13-year period, as experienced by kids 2 to 18 years old.

That national sports injury study found soccer players suffered fewer injuries than kids playing other sports (in fact, about half as many injuries as football) and those injuries were generally not as severe as other injuries, and required fewer Emergency Room visits.

The majority of soccer-related injuries involved strains and sprains, particularly to knees and ankles.

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Kids playing soccer suffer fewer injuries than any other contact sport, and as a group, girls playing soccer experience the fewest injuries of all.

Maximum Exercise
Another prime consideration is how much actual exercise the sport generates for its players. In many sports (football and baseball, we’re looking at you), there’s a stop-and-start quality to the activity that constantly interrupts the action between plays.

Although there’s also some of that stop-and-start in other sports like soccer and basketball, more game time is spent actually exercising.

Soccer requires near-constant running up and down the field, but unlike basketball, there’s less likelihood of dangerous contact.

Finding a Great Program
There’s one more key factor that determines the safety of the young athlete, and it’s the overall safety of the program. Is the program in question being led by true and trained professionals, or is it just a hastily arranged group activity?

When kids attend a Digital Media Academy soccer camp, that camp is administered by the Santa Carla University Soccer Camps program and features instruction from Division 1 collegiate soccer players.

And at DMA’s Santa Carla location, kids 8-12 can take cool “hybrid” courses that combine soccer instruction with cutting-edge tech subjects, such as DMA’s soccer and game design tech camp.

DMA’s Santa Carla University tech camp program runs through July 3 and there’s still time to register campers for the greatest summer camp experience of their lives.

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Kids playing soccer get incredible amounts of exercise by staying in near-constant motion, running from one end of the field to the other.

The Best Mix
If one takes into account variables such as overall program safety, lack of serious injuries, and total exercise benefits, there is really only one contact sport that rises above the others.

Soccer offers its players maximum amounts of exercise and the positive benefits of playing a team sport, as well as a fairly limited range of possible injuries (with a very small percentage of life-threatening injuries).

Considering all these factors, soccer becomes the obvious choice as the safest sport for kids and teens. DMA soccer tech camps provide the best of both worlds – sports and STEM.