Playing kids sports is a great way for children to have fun, make friends and stay healthy. However, it is also one of the most common ways kids get injured.

As Auskick returns, make sure your kid doesn’t have to watch from the sidelines with the below tips from the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne Emergency Department to reduce injury.

Wear proper sport gear

All kids should wear appropriate and properly fitted gear that is in good condition when playing kids sports, including correct footwear.

Key protective gear include helmets, mouthguards and knee and shin guards. Mouth guards should be fitted by a dentist to reduce the chance of dental injury. Knee and shin guards can protect the bones from fractures.

A helmet is a good way to prevent head injuries like cuts or fractures, but concussions can still occur. If your kid hits their head, consider having them sit out for the rest of the game and follow advice from Concussion in Sport Australia. Remember to be aware of key symptoms like headache, dizziness, vomiting and appearing confused or sluggish, and visit a doctor or Emergency Department if you are concerned.

You can’t prevent every injury, but helmets, mouthguards and other safety gear can reduce the risk of serious injury occurring as a result.

Stay hydrated

Fluid replacement is important during any sport as fluid loss can lead to dehydration.

All kids should be well hydrated before they start exercise and water should be readily available throughout the activity and after it ends. This will keep the body cool and help kids feel energised to play at their best.

Learn the rules

Many injuries occur at kids sports due to lack of understanding about what is or is not allowed, especially in contact sports. Rules protect all players by promoting safety and ensuring each kid has an enjoyable experience.

Parents and coaches should ensure kids know and understand the rules, and create an environment that focuses primarily on participation, enjoyment and fair play.

Stay fit and train properly

In line with the Department of Health Guidelines, kids should have at least one hour of vigorous activity a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Regular daily activity keep their body and muscles strong and well prepared for sporting matches. Keep the activities varied and simple for your kids, and always ensure they complete a warm up and cool down when completing any intense exercise.

You should also allocate at least one day off exercise a week to allow proper recovery and prevent overuse injuries.