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Posts Tagged ‘field hockey’


Like a Motorcycle Without a Helmet

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Lets say you have a really nice motorcycle.  It’s a beautiful day so you decide to go for a ride.  The mountains are calling so you prepare to hit the highway.  Wallet?  Check.  Cell phone?  Check.  Map?  Check.  Gas?  Check.  Helmet?  Nah; don’t need it.

Don’t need a helmet?  “I like the wind in my hair.”  Won’t it protect you?  “It obscures my vision and I can’t see other cars.”  But doesn’t it have a big, wide visor?  “Fogs up in the cool mountain air.”  Aren’t you worried?  “I’ll roll the dice.”

As ridiculous as this sounds, this very argument is going on right now in the Field Hockey world.  As our local teams get ready for playoffs it is extremely pertinent!

In April the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) mandated that all high school field hockey players be required to wear protective eyewear.  They advised that 2 types of eyewear were acceptable:  polycarbonate lens style and wire frame style.  They also state that the equipment must meet the ASTM standard.

The ASTM is the American Society for Testing and Materials.  They test and break and come up with suitable codes and standards for everything from automobile tires to construction beams to aircraft materials.  They also create the standards for things like football helmets, allowable compression of baseballs, and protective eyewear for field hockey players.

The ASTM studied field hockey balls, sticks, players, velocities, fields, weather conditions, et cetera, et al.  They looked at the strength of materials, and they looked at the amount of vision obstruction by design and by materials.  If a lens created too much “haze and luminous transmittance” it was deemed unacceptable.

The NFHS accepted the ASTM findings as “word from the mountaintop” and made a ruling.  Many players, coaches, and parents are now questioning the decision.  One group is so passionate that they created a website, goggleinjury.com, that tracks and reports injuries and complaints about the wearing of certain types of protective eyewear.  Their argument, and the argument of many others, is that the cage-style eyewear chosen by many players is inappropriate to the game and is more danger than it’s worth.  Many of the cage-style goggles were designed for lacrosse, which is an air game, whereas field hockey is a ground game.  They say that the goggles limit vision to the ground and air, which causes more collisions with players and sticks.   They also began tracking the number of players needing stitches because of a collision with another players mask.

A recent article in the Virginia Pilot discussed just that.  Still in preseason practice, two girls were sent for stitching up as a result of collisions with sticks and goggles.  Other articles point to the idea that players wearing protective gear take bigger risks.  An important aspect of field hockey is peripheral vision, and the constant search through a cage for the ball changes ones awareness of the field of play.  Arguments against also point to the fact that wire cages rust, and any player with a contusion caused by contact with a cage would also now require a tetanus shot.

The NFHS is concerned with one thing:  player safety.  The ASTM is concerned with one thing:  the integrity of a product.  And as many groups that are out there arguing against the field hockey ruling, there are reputable groups backing up the NFHS.  The Connecticut State Medical Society studied and reported on field hockey injuries, and stated that while eye injuries were rare, the use of protective eyewear was in the best interest of the state’s high school field hockey players.

When playing football, you wear a helmet.  You wear one that fits, one that is current and sound, and you use it to protect.  You’d be silly to face a good baseball pitcher without a good helmet.  Soccer strikers sport shin guards and a volleyball dig is an exercise in pain without kneepads.  When football was in its infancy, the helmet, if used at all, was a little leather cap.  Technology and study have made it better and fewer players are injured as a result.  Perhaps technology will come along and make something better for field hockey goggles.  Until it does, we say strap them on!  Why roll the dice with your eyesight if a sure thing is available?  That’s why we sell them.


Friday, September 23rd, 2011


We watched the Giants game the other night and got a good chuckle out of the Oscar-worthy performances of Jacquian Williams and Deon Grant.  They fell to the ground, writhing in pain, just as the Rams were setting up a no-huddle play.  Guess the boys in blue have been watching some soccer?

We’re also following the progress of Peyton Manning.  Manning is a tremendous talent and is no stranger to playing with pain.   In a long career with the Colts he had missed only one regular season snap.  In 2001 he got hit by the Dolphins, sat out a play, and came back bloodied, but finished the game.  Turns out he had a broken jaw.

Manning had off-season surgery to repair a nerve in his neck.  That didn’t go exactly to plan and he’s now had additional surgeries.  Word is now that he’s traveled to Europe for controversial stem-cell therapies.

Why is this important?

Our folks are playing some football, too.  And we spent all summer going to Little League, and we’re gearing up for Field Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Swimming, etc., etc., etc.  The point is that you don’t have to be Peyton Manning to get hurt playing sports.

The Centers for Disease Control says that at the High School level over 2 million athletes will be injured this year.  That’s everything from cuts and bruises to more serious issues like sprains, tears, bone breaks, and concussion.  The highest rate of injury was to boys playing football but no sport or sex was free from risk.  More kids were hurt during actual games but many injuries were also reported during practices and training.

What can you do to reduce the risk?

Make sure that your child is prepared for the season.  Evaluate pre-season health.  Every session should start with proper warm-up and nutrition.  Equipment should be appropriate to the sport and properly fitted.

Our kids like to be active, but make sure that they have adequate rest between practices, before games, and often between seasons.  Many experts suggest taking breaks between seasons as opposed to going straight to basketball from football, running to soccer, etc.

Listen to the coach!  At the youth level a common cause of injury is improper technique.  The first time your youngster wears a helmet he’s going to want to test it.  Leading a tackle head-first, however, is NOT good technique.  There is an art to tackling, to running, to jumping, and even to falling down.  Ask any skateboarder.

Most importantly, Be An Advocate!  Learn what you can about the sport your superstar has chosen.  Let the Coach coach, but be a participant.  Talk to your child about following the rules, following directions, and be aware.

Sports are our lives, and we hope yours, too!  Do your part to Keep Your Kid In The Game!

Fall Sports in August’s Heat?

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

We’re gearing up for fall sports.  Hopefully we’re gearing you up too!  Some folks have started their football camps already!  You know we’re ready for football!

We beat you over the head a few weeks ago with information about the dangers of concussion. As we see our little folks run around in this oppressive August heat we thought we’d share some information about the dangers of excessive exposure to the heat.

There have already been some reports this year of young players suffering from the heat.  In a few tragic cases death has resulted.

There are a few degrees of heat exposure.  Heat cramp, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  At first your body begins to cramp, you will lose your ability to regulate your body temperature, your internal temperature could rise as high as 106, and then it begins to get deadly.  If an athlete experiences nausea, blurred vision, or confusion then he or she is in serious trouble and needs immediate medical attention.

The first thing that you want to secure is access to water.  Clean, fresh water.  A responsible organization will provide coolers full of it.  It should be readily accessible and frequent breaks should be provided to hydrate.  As we sweat we lose valuable sodium and electrolytes and certain sports drinks can help to replace these.  Read your label, though, as certain “sports” drinks contain caffeine and other not so healthy things.  These troublemakers are in there to provide quick energy but they speed up metabolism and can exaggerate the effects of heat.  This is also something to be aware of in any medications that the player is taking.  Meds for asthma and allergies often contain bronchodilators, which can speed up the metabolism.

Many foods contain a lot of water.  Most fruits, like watermelon, are mostly water.  Look also for food and snacks that are mineral-rich and loaded with good salts and some easy carbs for energy.

There is a rare but deadly consequence of too much water:  hyponatremia.  This is an imbalance in the levels of sodium and fluids in the body.  If a player has been sweating heavily and then ingests large amounts of fluid without balancing the amount of sodium the cells of the body will swell.  This becomes deadly as the brain cells swell, as the skull doesn’t give the brain a lot of room to move around.

When is the coach holding practice?  Be aware that the majority of heat incidents occur during the first couple of days of practice.  Players need to get acclimated to the heat.  Just because they’ve been at the beach or chasing sprinklers all summer doesn’t mean they’re ready for a full-out with pads practice.  You should also become a weather expert!  You can create your own heat index to decide how you want your player to participate.  A good and easy rule of thumb is to do the “Sum” equation.  Look at the weather and add the temperature to the humidity.  If it’s 85 degrees and the relative humidity is 70% you have a sum of 155.  Good to practice but keep your eyes open.  As you get above a Sum of 160 you need to be really vigilant.  If it gets up to 180 you should encourage the organization to cancel or reschedule the event.  A smart coach will try to get most activities going early in the morning so that most strenuous activity is done before the afternoon heat really kicks in.

Uniform also plays a role.  Is the coach going full-pads?  Shorts and fishnet jerseys are good.  For football or other sports requiring helmets they should be used sparingly and sunscreen is still a must.  If a shirt or jersey becomes too wet due to sweat it should be changed as this will trap heat.

Most of all:  watch.  Learn the warning signs and monitor the practice!  Fall sports are fun but they don’t need to be dangerous!