Whether your high school student is feeling a little under the weather or you’re dealing with a young child with strep symptoms, the best thing to do for your sick son or daughter is to make sure they can rest and recover. But what’s the best thing to do when it comes to youth sports? Should your child play soccer when they’re sick?
Every situation and person is different, so the answer to this question isn’t exactly straightforward. Whether or not your child should play soccer while sick depends on a few different factors. Are you a sports parent dealing with a kid who’s caught a nasty stomach bug or wondering what to do in case your young athlete gets sick in the future? Read on to learn more about when heading to practice is okay — and when your child should stay home and recuperate.
Fighting a Fever? Stay Home
If your child is running a fever, especially one over 100.4° F, it’s usually best for them to stay off the soccer field. A fever indicates that your child’s body is working hard to fight off an infection. Ignoring a fever can lead to overheating or even heart infections. While some low-grade fevers may not result in any problems for players, it’s best to play it safe and wait until at least 24 hours after the last normal temperature reading to return to play.
Exercise Isn’t a Cure
“Sweat it out” is a commonly given piece of advice for sick soccer players. Unfortunately, this advice has not scientifically been proven true when it comes to defeating a cold or flu. While regular exercise can help raise a person’s heart rate and promote healthy blood pressure (among many other positive effects), no consistent research has emerged showing that exercising while sick helps end the illness faster. In other words, staying active is great for your immune system, but exercising isn’t a cure-all that will help your young athlete recuperate from whatever is going on.
When considering if your child should play soccer while sick, also consider his or her teammates. If your child is sick with something contagious, playing soccer alongside others can result in getting the whole team sick. Even worse, spending time in small, confined spaces such as a locker room or on the bus to a tournament can quickly spread germs from your child to everyone else. If your child is on antibiotics or other medication, speak with their doctor about when they will no longer be able to infect others, as well as what steps to take to promote a healthy recovery.
When there’s a championship game or a critical practice on the line, it can be agony for your child to sit on the sidelines. Many young athletes can think of nothing worse than skipping soccer altogether in favor of lying in bed waiting to feel better. However, advise them to assess what they can truly do. Throwing themselves into a game as if they have full strength, when in fact they are far from healed from an illness, can not only extend their illness longer but can also lead to them becoming frustrated with their limited abilities. Feeling as if your team is counting on you, yet being unable to perform in the way you usually do, can actually be more frustrating and disappointing than waiting until you feel better to play.
Listen to Experts
When in doubt, your child’s pediatrician or another member of their medical care team should be your go-to source for whether your child is safe to play soccer or not. However, there’s another expert you can’t forget to listen to, and that’s your child themselves. Only they know if they’re truly feeling up to playing, so listen to them and encourage them to be honest. It’s important that they develop the skills needed to listen to their bodies and take care of themselves so that the next time they’re feeling under the weather, they can make the call themselves — and get back on the field healthy, happy, and ready to play.
Be Your Best Soccer Self!
Are you looking for the next level in soccer training for your child, whether they’re 2, 10, or 18? Sign up for soccer in KOP or Warminster and see real results from world-class soccer skill classes, private lessons, and group activities such as tiki-taka soccer and more! Check out our website today or get in touch with staff to learn more.