Why this surgeon is teaching kids how to catch a ball

Knee injuries in children have sky-rocketed in recent years.
Knee injuries in children have sky-rocketed in recent years. Photo: Shutterstock

He may not be their coach, but Dr Jonathan Herald is keen to teach kids how to catch a ball and take a fall on the sporting field.

The Sydney surgeon has joined forces with Rugby Sevens olympian Emma Tonegato to release a set of "how to" videos in the hope of reducing the number of children suffering from injuries. 

Dr Herald decided to make the videos after becoming concerned about the increasing number of children coming through his surgery doors after being hurt during training or games.  

He told Essential Kids that, while professional sporting clubs have a dedicated person to train the players in injury prevention, junior clubs are less prepared. 

"(Professionals) are taught how to fall properly, how to catch the ball without injuring their fingers but at the kids' level they're working with volunteers and hoping for the best."

In particular anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) knee injuries in children have tripled in the past decade. 

"Some could argue that sport is more competitive than it used to be; while others might say the rise is because parents are treating injuries earlier," Dr Herald said.

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"The good news is that whilst ACL tears take a long time to heal, we know warming up for 10 minutes can significantly reduce knee injuries as can learning to land properly and doing knee strengthening exercises like squats and lunges."

Emma is also hopeful the videos will help children prevent injuries on the sporting field.  Together with Dr Herald, she has also compiled a checklist of injury prevention tips.

Top tips to prevent sporting mishaps

1. Always warm up for at least 10 minutes - this is particularly essential for girls who are more prone to injury and need to build more muscle strength

2. Tuck and roll – don't fall on an outstretched hand which can cause wrist breaks

3. If you must use your hand slap the ground, rather than fall on fingers

4. Catch a ball with fingers softly spooned, not tense and outstretched

5. In netball, landing on two feet provides a firm support base. Keep feet shoulder width apart and avoid knees coming together which increases risk of ACL injuries. Bend knees and flex ankles to cushion the landing.

6. Ensure they have properly fitted footwear

In the case of a suspected fracture, Dr Herald and Emma have made a Break V Strain video, so you can tell one from the other.