Calling another audible. I'll get back to the development series in a couple of weeks.

A mother of one of my young clients was concerned after seeing an athlete on her 12-year-old son's football team taken off the field on a stretcher. As can happen with some parents, she freaked out.

"Should I really have my son playing this?"

"Could he get hurt like that?"

"Have you seen the bruises he has already?"

"He absolutely loves it, loves it, loves it. And I want him to continue to play, but I don't know if I can take this!"

I will admit my bias first. I played football from age 6 to 22. I cherish almost everything about it and wouldn't hesitate to let my child play - with one caveat: coaching needs to come from individuals who understand the physical maturation of the human body.

Children face a better chance of getting injured being driven to or from football practices and games than they do at the practices and games.

Every weekend, emergency rooms across the nation admit children who are injured playing sports. Guess what sport sends the most? Basketball, followed by various forms of cycling. Football is third.

When reviewing catastrophic injuries, children have died from direct hits in football. However, injuries in baseball/softball, cycling, inline skating, skateboarding and playground falls have led to more fatalities each year.

A child's death or devastating injury is never easy to bear. But too many single out football because of the visibly violent nature of the sport.

Should we prevent our kids from playing football? Should we stop them from throwing baseballs and softballs or forbid them from playing on the monkey bars and swing sets? No.

We are our children's first coach - at least we should be - and must prepare them to play. If youth coaches physically prepare children the proper way, then each athlete will possess the athleticism needed to play smart and have a developmentally appropriate lucidity about his or her physical acumen.


Bryant holds several national training certifications, is an author, lectures internationally and is the founder of C.L.A.Y. His fitness tips appear biweekly in Health and Wellness.