Coaches look to prevent youth sports injuries

LAS VEGAS - While most students return to the classroom next week, student athletes are already hitting the fields to prepare for their seasons.

Coaches are taking steps to ensure the athletes are safe from head injuries and heat-related illnesses.

Many teams will practice during the early morning hours or at night when temperatures approach triple digits.

Meanwhile, a Nevada law passed in 2011 requires a series of rules for treatment of head injuries in youth sports.

This isn't limited to football. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 170,000 child sports-related traumatic brain injuries occur each year.

Football injuries made up nearly 30 percent of the emergency room visits for children with brain injuries. Soccer injuries made up approximately 16 percent, and basketball injuries accounted for 15 percent of head injuries.

Henderson Cowboys youth football head coach Jim Petrie oversees five teams with approximately 130 kids. Some of the children are as young as six-years-old.

He says teaching the correct fundamentals can save a kid's athletic longevity. He says he and his staff will take time to teach players until they learn proper techniques.

"Helmets are more advanced now. They are heavier, and they can be used as a weapon. We teach kids that helmets are for protection, to use half a facemask, to teach across the body, not to duck the head and lower the head," he said.

Coaches for the Henderson Cowboys and other teams in Las Vegas are certified through USA Heads-Up Football, a day-long class that teaches proper tackling and other techniques that limit concussions.


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