Spring sports season is here! Around the country, parents are gearing up to spend their weekends lining the soccer fields, little league fields, tennis courts and running tracks to cheer on their favorite athletes. But after that long, cold winter, is your little one really ready to jump into their favorite sport? Here's how to make sure your kickoff to the spring sports season is safe and healthy for everyone on the field.

Start slowly. If your kids have been active all winter, great! They probably just need a few warm-up exercises before they start spring training. But if they hibernated through the cold and snow, they will need a slow and steady approach to spring sports. Talk to your child's coach or health care provider about the best way to start — or restart — an exercise program. Which brings me to ...

Check in with your doc. It's likely that your child will need a physical before she starts any organized sports program, but even if she doesn't, make sure she gets in to see the doc. A sports physical will give your doctor the opportunity to look your child over and make sure she is physically able to start playing sports.  

Check their equipment. Every sport has some type of specialized equipment. If your child already owns this gear, be sure to check it for broken or missing parts before he uses it again. There's no telling what kind of condition it was in at the end of last season. For wearable equipment such as helmets, cleats, sneakers and cups, be sure your child can still fit into last year's model. If not, it's time for an upgrade.

Look over the field. Before your child's first practice, match, meet or game, look over the area where she will be playing to make sure there is no broken equipment, weeds, cracks or other hazards that need to be addressed. In many cases, these issues may not be fixed before the first use of the field, court or track, so be sure your child's coach knows about them so that he can keep the whole team safe.

Make sure they get their vitamins and extra zzz's. Longer days and warmer temps make kids want to play all day — and well into the evening. But if they have a heavy training schedule, make sure that they also make time for proper nutrition and plenty of rest — especially before hard practices and/or big games. It can be hard to get kids to wind down in the spring when they are still spending the better part of the day in school and want to spend the evenings running, riding or playing around outside. But they may be more inclined to catch some zzz's if they know it's for the good of the team.

Play ball!

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Spring sports safety tips
Kickoff the spring sports season with these health and safety tips for everyone on the field.