Football is a beloved sport, but it can be one of the most dangerous sports if you are not properly prepared to play. It is important to take the extra precautions needed to guard yourself against serious injuries that can occur on the football field.
The first place to begin is gathering the proper equipment. Standard equipment for any football team includes: helmet, shoulder pads, hip pads, tail pads, knee pads, thigh guards, mouth guard with a keeper strap, athletic supporter, and proper shoes (rubber cleats are generally used, but check with your coach for regulations in your league). Also, if you wear eyeglasses, it would be wise to consider contact lenses or you will need to wear special glasses with a non-shattering lens. Have someone who is knowledgeable about football gear check your equipment to make sure that it fits correctly.
Pre-season physicals are required for a reason. During a physical exam, a doctor may be able to identify any health risks that the sport may pose for you. He may also find medical conditions to which you are unaware. In some cases, a physical will determine that playing football is too great a risk to a person's overall health. Protecting your health is more important than a football game, so don't skip this important step
Practice should be treated like any regular game. There should always be first aid available and all safety precautions should be used. Do not wear any kind of jewelry, including earrings, during practice or during games. They can be safety hazards. It is also very important to stay hydrated during practice. Take plenty of water breaks because dehydration can become a serious problem, especially in hot weather. Breaks should be taken every twenty minutes. Pushing yourself too hard in practice can lead to injuries that may last throughout the season. Give your best, but don't overdo it.
Don't let the excitement and anticipation of the big game take your mind off of important safety issues or rules that should be followed. Always warm up and stretch before playing. It is not worth risking muscle injuries because you didn't want to take a few minutes to stretch. Also, do not use any form of illegal blocking on the field or you will be endangering yourself and others. You should never pull a player down by grabbing their facemask or their knees. You should never use the top of your helmet to tackle another person nor should you try to block a player from behind. You should also never use helmet-to-helmet contact as you could be risking serious head and neck injuries. One of the most important rules to remember is to always report pain or injuries to a coach or trainer. Never try to play through the pain. If you do, you risk permanently acquiring what otherwise might have been a temporary condition. If your doctor recommends resting an injury, be sure to do so for the total amount of time prescribed. Do not go back to playing football too early.
By following these few simple guidelines, you can better protect your body while playing football and allow yourself many more games for the future.