Parent Safety Letter

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2018 WCGSA Safety Recommendations


Dear Parents,

The Warren County Girls’ Softball Association (WCGSA) has the following safety recommendations. WCGSA has asked all coaches to provide every player with this letter. Please review the recommendations and discuss safety with your athlete.   Although your daughter will only play in the WCGSA through 8th grade, we hope she will be involved in sports for the rest of her life. The objective of these recommendations is to prevent injuries and keep her in the game. These recommendations align with those of the leading sports councils and National Athletic Training Association.


Staying safe, from head to toe:

·       Hairbands:  If the athlete’s hair is long enough to reach her eyes, she should use a hairband at every practice and game to keep her hair away from her eyes.  Many high school and college athletes use colorful pre-wrap. It’s inexpensive and the texture keeps stray strands of hair from coming undone. Pre-wrap can be purchased at any sports department as it is used in all sports.

·       Cap, visor, and sunglasses: Sunny days are especially vexing for fielders. Pop fly balls can get lost in sun and hit an athlete in the face before she sees it. In addition to using a cap or visor and sunglasses, players should be taught to use their glove to block the sun and catch the ball safely. Make sure that this is part of the practice routine.


While towns may not mandate the following protective gear, the WCGSA recommends the following:

·       Eyewear:  If your child wears eyeglasses, consult your eye care physician about the use of “rec specs”.   All players should wear sunglasses if they are able to see the ball better with them. Encourage the use of sunglasses.

·       Mouthguards:  Infielders and pitchers should consider using mouthguards, especially if they have braces or other dental work.  Mouthguards can be purchased at any sports supply store as they are used in many sports.

·       Faceguards:  Infielders should be taught to field well, with their hands out in front of their bodies. However, bat technology, player hitting skills, and the odd bouncing ground ball can overcome even the most talented fielder.  Seriously consider investing in a fielders’ face guard.  Coaches in the league may not prevent a player from using the faceguard at any position, nor can they prevent a player from playing a position because they choose to wear a faceguard. Use of this piece of equipment is entirely up to the player and parents, but the WCGSA strongly recommends the use of a faceguard for pitchers and other infielders.

·       Batting helmet: All players must wear an official batting helmet with attached faceguard per ASA regulations.  Chinstraps are recommended, but no longer required. The helmet should fit snugly and not shift when the player is moving.

·       Jewelry:  Jewelry, no matter how significant to the player for sentimental or even religious reasons, no matter how recent the piercing, no matter what reason you have for keeping jewelry on, is not permitted to be worn during games.  You may tape jewelry to your skin, but the entire piece must be covered by the tape and secured to the skin.  This is a USA Softball safety rule and is not arguable. If the player chooses to keep the jewelry on, and will not or cannot tape the jewelry to the umpire’s satisfaction, the player is ineligible to play.

·       Heart guard:  Pitchers and corner infielders may use a shield covering the heart. This equipment may protect by absorbing a direct hit to the heart area.  Use of this device is entirely up to the player and her parents, and coaches will support the family decision. Players who choose to use a heat guard will not be prohibited from any position because of her decision.

·       Sliding pant/knee guard:  If wearing shorts, players can reduce the risk of injury when sliding into bases by wearing padded compression shorts (beneath the uniform shorts) and knee guards.  Both should fit snugly so that the material does not ride up during a slide.  Knee guards are properly fitted if they do not slip when the player jumps up and down.  

·       Cleats: Metal cleats are not permitted.  Sneakers are NOT recommended for softball practice or play, as an athlete is much more likely to lose her footing in sneakers. Softball molded cleats are similar to soccer cleats but have an extra ‘toe’ cleat for better basepath running.  Make sure the cleats fit well to avoid injury. 

·       Catchers’ gear: Any player designated for catching duty, whether in game or practice, must wear proper gear before stepping into position behind the plate, but also while warming up her pitcher during practice or games.  Make sure the team has sufficient and properly fitted gear.


Six safety recommendations for youth athletes


1.      Don’t play through pain or discomfort.  If the pain in a joint or muscle is throbbing or jabbing or simply does not go away after warm-ups, report the pain to your coach and parents. The same goes for headaches. Don’t play with a headache, or if you feel even slightly dizzy or nauseated.

2.      Play multiple positions. Doing so creates a better knowledge of the game, and develops better overall athleticism. Volunteer to learn more than one position.

3.      Play multiple sports.  It is a nearly unanimous opinion of professional organizations (such as NATA - Nat’l Athletic Training Assoc., Rutgers Sports Council, NYSCA and Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports) that children who focus on a single sport and play multiple seasons of that sport each year are at high risk of irregular muscular development and injury.  Instead of playing softball for three or four seasons, select a sport which will require skills that are complementary to softball development. Consider playing autumn and winter sports, such as field hockey, swimming, soccer or tennis. 

4.      Develop skills that are appropriate for your age.   For example, a young athlete should not be expected to throw from the center field position to home plate. Learning the fundamentals of the outfield throw is appropriate. Expecting to be able to throw like a high school varsity player while still in 7th grade is not appropriate.

5.     Focus on control, accuracy and good mechanics before you focus on power or speed.

6.      Do not pitch for more than two consecutive days.  More and more research studies are showing that the incidence of pitching injuries in softball is pretty much the same as in baseball. In fact, the windmill pitch motion, when overused, can cause back and neck, shoulder and wrist injuries.

Softball Recommended Maximum Pitch Counts (National Athletic Training Association)



Days 1 & 2

Day 3

















·       Rest Periods: Once girls begin to play competitively, they often play two games per day on two or three consecutive days. Two days of rest for pitchers is essential to prevent injuries. Additional guidelines include:

·       Girls < 12 years - maximum 2 days of consecutive pitching
Girls > 13 years - maximum 3 days of consecutive pitching

·       Rest means no live pitches, including batting practice. Pitchers may need to 'loosen up' with a flexibility routine on the second rest day and can participate in hitting and field drills.

·        Overuse injuries are preventable. Some tips to keep in the game for life:

·       Warm up properly by stretching, running, and easy, gradual throwing.

·       Rotate playing other positions besides pitcher.

·       Concentrate on age-appropriate pitching.

·       Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons.

·       Flexibility of pitchers needs to be the focus during the season rather than strengthening.

·       Don't pitch with pain, and see a doctor if the pain persists for a week.

·       Don't pitch more than two consecutive days until age 13, and then no more than three days in a row.

·       Don't play year-round, or even for three seasons.

·       Radar Guns should only be used during competition for best pitch of speed vs. changeup (ages 15+).

·       Communicate regularly about how your arm is feeling and if there is pain or fatigue.

·       Emphasize control, accuracy, and good mechanics.

·       Speak with a sports medicine professional or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about softball injuries or softball injury prevention strategies

·       Return to play only when clearance is granted by a healthcare professional.

Parents: Be Responsible!


From Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports program, here are the major areas of safety that responsible sports parents must address:

  1. Conditioning: Check with your family doctor to assess your children's fitness before they begin any sports programs.
  2. Hydration: As you may have seen in the news recently, hydration is a big issue in sports. Teach your children the importance of hydration – send them to practice with water bottles, remind them to have water throughout the day, and greet them after practice with a nice cold bottle of water.
  3. Nutrition: We all know nutrition is important. It becomes even more important for our youth athletes who are burning lots of calories during practice and games. Do your best to ensure your athlete is eating a balanced diet and touch base with your coach on special nutritional needs before practices and games.
  4. Equipment: Make sure the equipment your children use for practice and games is safe. Make sure your children wear adequate protective gear and ask your children's coaches if you can examine all training and field equipment. Also, teach your children to use equipment only for its intended purpose.
  5. Injury Prevention and Treatment: Partner with your children's coaches to ensure greater safety. For example, keep a first aid kit in your car to supplement the coach's first aid kit. Consider getting certified in first-aid and CPR and encourage other parents to do the same. You can never have enough qualified hands in case of an emergency. A first-aid kit and at least one adult trained and certified in first-aid and CPR should be present at all practices and games.
  6. Driving: Anyone responsible for driving youth athletes to and from practices or games should be licensed and insured. Consider updating your own insurance policy to reflect carpooling care of passengers.