LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Sports can be a great way for children to learn about teamwork, leadership and physical endurance.  But there are things children, parents and coaches need to know to be ready to safely play fall sports. Jennifer Brey, M.D. from Children's Orthopaedics of Louisville explains the warning signs of a serious injury or heat illness. And she has insight into how much kids can handle on and of the field.

In 2012, more than 1.35 million children ages 19 and under were seen in emergency departments for injuries related to 14 commonly played sports. There are simple things that can help reduce preventable injuries.

Before playing organized sports, make sure your child receives a pre-participation physical exam, or PPE, by a doctor. This can help rule out any potential medical conditions that may place your young athlete at risk. Also make sure coaches have phone numbers, doctor information and allergy information.  If your athlete has any history of asthma or other medical conditions that require special attention, meet with the coach before the first practice.

Bring a water bottle to practice and games. Encourage children to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after play.  Learn the signs and symptoms of dehydration and other forms of heat illness. If you're a coach, mandatory fluid breaks during practice and games are a great idea - don't wait for your athletes to tell you they're thirsty.

Stretching before practice and games can release muscle tension and help prevent sports-related injuries, such as muscle tears or sprains. Make sure there is time set aside before every practice and game for athletes to warm up properly.

An off-season is important, too. It is recommended that kids get 10 consecutive weeks of rest from any one sport every year. Playing different sports throughout the year is OK.  To help avoid overuse injury, rest all players during practices and games.  Encourage players to communicate any pain, injury or illness they may have during or after any practices or games. Make sure they know it's smart to tell coaches, parents or another adult if they're hurt or not feeling well.

Kids should have at least one or two days off from any particular sport each week.

It's also a good idea for coaches to get certified in first aid and CPR, learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion and help avoid overuse injury by resting players during practices and games. Coaches should consider adding to their sports skills and knowledge with free sports safety training at a Safe Kids Sports Safety Clinic.

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