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Sports and those who play them are influenced by many factors, including team dynamics, individual performance, and a straightforward passion for recreation. No matter what age or expertise level you're playing at, you are probably focused on having fun and being successful. 

Yet it is absolutely essential that you prioritize personal safety every time you go to practice or step out for a game. 

By sticking to the following list of guidelines, you will prevent catastrophic injuries and ensure that you are able to continue doing what you love for years to come.

Helmets

Finding a suitable helmet for your sport—and one that fits properly—is perhaps the most important place to start. Traumatic brain injuries and concussions are relatively common occurrences for athletes and can cause prolonged or permanent damage. 

Hockey, football, lacrosse, and baseball players should always have adequate helmets and update them as necessary. Other sports that require specialized helmets are cycling, skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, and horseback riding. 

If you're unsure of where to begin, consult with your local suppliers and get a fitting. While helmets are vital and can certainly protect you from horrific harm, nothing is guaranteed and concussions still happen. 

Be sure to have sufficient health insurance coverage at all times while playing sports of any kind. Follow this link for insurance quotes if you need to update your health insurance plan.

Eye Protection

Research has demonstrated that the majority of eye injuries can be prevented with the right protective eye gear. Although you may not see other players wearing them often, that does not downplay their efficacy and relevance. 

Like concussions, eye injuries can have long-lasting implications that you'll want to avoid. Commonplace sports that require close attention to eye safety are baseball, cycling, hockey, and football.

When selecting your eyewear, be sure to choose durable material and wraparound straps if needed. 

Avoid products that include "room to grow" for children and adolescent wearers; having a loose fit on your eye gear can increase the risk of injury. This is true for gear that is too small as well. 

Do your best to stay vigilant with the sizing and quality of your safety gear – you won't regret it.

Padding

Pads are imperative for all contact sports and other high-impact activities like skateboarding. Having them on your knees and elbows will prevent scrapes and bruises while wearing them on your shins and wrists can significantly decrease the likelihood of a major sprain or break. 

Pads are made of various materials depending on the amount of protection desired by the athlete. Don't hesitate to ask an expert for advice if you feel indecisive.

Mouthguards

The right mouth guard will stay in place consistently, be relatively comfortable and easy to sanitize, and will allow you to speak clearly while wearing it. 

Mouthguards protect you from not only the very worst—in other words, loss of teeth from an intense hit—but also tongue, lip, and jaw injuries

For this reason, they are highly recommended for any sport where severe blows to the face are possible. Once again, you'll need to replace it often for quickly maturing young athletes.

Footwear

Appropriate footwear is critical for supporting your entire body as you play and can ward off issues that come from the overuse of your feet and lower legs. 

Basketball and tennis players will want to prioritize the quality of their court shoes, aiming for optimal traction and ankle support. Running shoes need to be upgraded every three to six months for active runners. 

Of course, standard cleats are a must-have for baseball, soccer, and football players. Given that athletic footwear is the most stylish component of all, you will probably have fun with your selection in this regard.

Safety may not be the first thing you think of when daydreaming about that awesome tournament you have coming up, but it is imperative that you don't neglect it altogether. 

After all, your team needs you on your A-game for the entire season.

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