Volleyball is among the safest sports out there, but injuries can happen and they can be serious enough to take your kids off the court for the whole season or longer.

To keep your kids as safe as possible when they are playing volleyball, follow these tips.

Gearing up

Other than a ball and a net, you don't need a lot of gear to play volleyball. Even so, there are a few things to consider when it comes to volleyball gear:

  • Knee pads - A pair of knee pads protects knees when players hit the floor to make a play
  • Padded shorts - Indoor volleyball players in particular can get bruised hips when diving for a ball.
  • Other pads and braces - Depending on preferences or past injuries, some players will benefit from wearing elbow or forearm pads, ankle or wrist braces or thumb splints.
  • Shoes - Indoor volleyball players in particular can get bruised hips when diving for a ball.
  • Mouthguards - Mouthguards are a low-cost way to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue.
  • Goggles and sunglasses - For players who wear glasses, get prescription goggles and for players who play beach volleyball, wear shatterproof sunglasses.
  • Other support - Good athletic supporter for guys and strong sports bra for girls.

Before playing

  • Get in shape before volleyball season starts
  • Inspect sand courts for temperature and debris
  • Thoroughly warm up and stretch before practice and play

During play

Kids can help prevent in-game injuries if they keep these things in mind:

  • During play at the net, try not to step across the center line into your opponent's side of the court. Many ankle sprains happen during play at the net, and a lot of them involve someone landing on an opponent's foot and twisting an ankle.
  • Keep an eye out for your teammates, and "call" the ball when you go to make a play to reduce the chances of colliding with another player.
  • Use proper techniques. Studies show that players who practice and use the right technique when spiking or blocking step on fewer feet and get fewer sprained ankles.
  • If you get a cramp or feel pain while playing, ask to come out of the game and don't start playing again until the pain goes away. Playing through pain might seem brave, but it can make an injury worse and possibly keep you on the sidelines for longer stretches of time.

A few other reminders:

  • Kids should have a pre-season sports physical exam (different from a regular physical exam) before every season to be sure they are ready to play.
  • It’s critical for kids to stay hydrated, particularly on hot, sunny days, by drinking plenty of water before, during and after practices and games.
  • Remind kids to apply high-SPF sunscreen every few hours when they play outdoors.
  • Help kids learn that if an opposing player does something your kids disagree with, they shouldn’t take it personally, and they should never start a fight with another player.