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When to Share Health Concerns with Your Child's Coach

Picture this: your child has stomach flu on Wednesday, but she is feeling much better by Friday and returns to school. Should she go to basketball practice after school? Can she play in the big game on Saturday? What, if anything, should you tell the coach about her recent illness?

It's hard to know which health information to share with your child's coach. Your child may want to play after a recent illness, a sprain, pulled muscle, fracture or even concussion, but you may worry that they will overdo it too soon, causing even more medical problems.

Here are five health situations that merit a conversation with the coach:

  1. Your child is very young. It’s always better to encourage your child to talk to the coach himself about any issues, but if your child is younger than 10, you may want to emphasize the message yourself.
  2. Your child is at risk for dehydration. Most organized sports teams provide ample opportunity for kids to drink water. If your child has recently recovered from an illness, he may need more frequent water breaks. Make sure your child has access to water or a sports drink while playing. Give the coach a heads up that it may take more fluids than usual to stay hydrated.
  3. Your child has asthma or allergies. If your child has asthma or life-threatening allergies, it’s important for the coach to know. Coaches are trained in first aid and CPR, but without access to a rescue inhaler or epinephrine pen, they can’t properly care for your child in an emergency.
  4. Your child has recently suffered a concussion. Competing in sports too soon after a concussion can have serious side effects, including brain swelling, brain damage and even death. Always tell your child’s coach if she has recently recovered from a concussion.
  5. Your child has a previous sports injury. Injury prevention is easier when a coach knows about potential weaknesses in certain players. For example, if your child has suffered a torn ACL in the past, your coach needs to know so he can help prevent a re-injury with proper warm-ups and stretching. Sharing the information helps coaches spot a problem and take protective steps.

If something about your child’s health concerns you, feel free to tell the coach. Don’t worry about seeming overprotective. Your child’s health is more important than any reservations you may have about sharing health information. Before your child plays any organized sport, make sure they receive a physical and doctor’s clearance to play. If you’re looking for a pediatrician or family doctor, visit Riley at IU Health to locate expert, compassionate care near you.

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