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TAKE 5 with USA Hockey’s Jason Hodges

By USAHockey.com, 10/13/14, 11:15AM EDT

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Youth sports might not seem as dangerous as professional sports, but there are still physical risks involved.

Safety precautions should be taken in every sport, and at Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive™ we encourage coaches and parents to educate themselves on where to find information on preventing and identifying head injuries, especially concussions.

We sat down with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Head Athletic Trainer Jason Hodges to get his thoughts on how youth athletes, coaches and Positive Sport Parents can help provide proper protection of the head.

In our exclusive TAKE 5 interview, Jason told us that the top priority for youth hockey players should be to always “keep your head up” and stay alert out on the ice.

“Keep your head up!” said Jason. “Know where you are on the ice at all times, and always keep your head on a swivel.”

Jason added that this smart strategy involves looking out for one’s teammates as well – and communicating to coaches and trainers when you think you may have been injured.

“If a teammate took a big hit and doesn’t seem right, speak up and tell your coach or athletic trainer,” said Jason. “If you’re hurt or something doesn’t feel right, do not be afraid to see your coach, athletic trainer or doctor.”

According to Jason, proper coaching can also go a long ways toward preventing head injuries in youth hockey.

“Coaches should teach proper technique,” said Jason. “Encourage players to play within the rules. Know the signs and symptoms of a concussion. When in doubt, sit them out. Hockey is the greatest game in the world, and it isn’t worth risking your season, career or your life for a single game.”

Jason also believes firmly that Positive Sport Parents can make an impact when it comes to preventing and treating head injuries in hockey.

“First, make sure your child is outfitted in the proper equipment,” said Jason. “Equipment should fit correctly and not be broken. Make sure your coach is teaching the proper skills and techniques. Being educated in the signs and symptoms of concussions and knowing what to do if you suspect a concussion is also important.”

Jason said that while wearing a proper-fitting helmet and using proper technique go a long way towards protecting youth hockey against head injuries, incidents and accidents can still happen in the fast-moving and hard-charging sport. According to Jason, it’s imperative for everyone involved in hockey to keep their heads up when it comes to the issue of concussions. Having qualified trainers on hand is also vital.

“Making sure we treat injuries properly right away so it doesn’t turn into a long-term injury is important,” said Jason. “Having athletic trainers available in every hockey rink will help make sure that hockey players get proper care in a timely fashion.”

To read the full TAKE 5 interview with Jason, visit PlayPositive.com. And come back next month for another exclusive TAKE 5 interview!

At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we constantly look for ways to celebrate the countless acts of positivity shown by people every day. We created Play Positive, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance, as part of this belief to help ensure that our kids experience the best that sports have to offer in environments that promote and display positivity. We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when coaches and parents come together to support winning on and off the ice. 

©2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Positive Coaching Alliance. All rights reserved. This material may not be distributed without express written permission. Any reproduction in whole or part by and individuals or organizations will be held liable for copyright infringement to the full extent of the law.

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