There can be no doubt that competitive sports are part of our worldwide culture. The international Olympics are one of those things that all nations seem to agree bring us together. Kids from the youngest age play and compete in athletic events.

Two little kids boys, best friends in autumn forest. Older brother helping younger child to put his bike helmet. Happy siblings with bicycles.

The one thing I try to remind my kids of is to be safe. I also don’t want to just be that parent that gives it lip service and yells “be safe” as they head out the door. I want them to know what it takes to be safe.

Not being an athlete myself (although being an enthusiast) I try to teach them what can be done. The first is, even if you are specifically focused on one sport like baseball, soccer, or football, is to realize that safety goes far beyond just the various bits of safety gear we buy.

Safety is also conditioning. You have to condition your body. That doesn’t mean just play your sport. You have to condition yourself to that sport. So, what the heck does that mean.

Exercise. Specifically targeted exercises to prepare your body to complete are necessary. That doesn’t mean just run, just lift weights. You have to condition your entire body from head to toe. This includes stretch, cardio, yes, strength training and also playing your sport.

The most important thing before doing any of these things is stretching. You need your body to be ready to do what you are about to ask it to do. Get “warmed up.” These aren’t just words to throw out this is an action to be taken and not something I see enough people doing. Especially kids. They just want to get on the field, get to it, have some fun.

I have mine start every sporting event (soccer, baseball) with some stretching. I’m not sure it makes them better athletes but none of them have been hurt on the field (yet).

I know I’m rambling a little, but this is the start of a discussion and an idea nugget I’m working on. There are lots of smart watches and wearables on the market to monitor heart rate and other physiological data. There is also a growing number of Artificial Intelligence Apps on the market. There is a thought gestating (ok something I’m actively working) to combine the data from these various new technologies into useable data that even an amateur can improve performance with.

We live in exciting times and I really think that AI technology will push athletes further and faster than ever before possible. Can you imagine a wearable device (or perhaps a smartphone app) that tells you when you have optimally warmed up? I can see it. I also think that we can help improve safety through technology, and that means technology that goes far beyond padding.

I think, as a parent, I would appreciate such technology as something that would help me feel that my kids were about to compete and do so with a lower chance of injury.

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