The arrival of warmer weather signals the beginning of spring, and for many young boys and girls, that means it's time to start thinking about baseball. Every year thousands of children dust off their baseball gloves, don their caps, and head outside to take part in the Great American Pastime.

Regardless of whether your kids take part in an organized league of just like to get outside and play with friends, one thing is for certain: baseball is a lot of fun. It is a great way to spend time with friends, get out of the house — away from TVs and computers — and to learn about character, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. It is also a wonderful way for children to build strength and get some exercise.

Baseball Safety: Prevention and Awareness

However, as with any sport that requires physical exertion, there is always the possibility of incurring an injury. Because of this, it is important to keep certain safety measures in mind at all times, especially when hard, fast-moving objects like baseballs and bats are involved.

The keys to baseball safety involve awareness and prevention. Children and parents alike should always be aware of the potential injuries that can occur when players are running about and throwing baseballs or swinging baseball bats. Parents should keep the keys to safety in mind at all times in order to ensure that children are safe and healthy, thereby maximizing the enjoyment of the game by both the players and spectators.

7 Keys to Baseball Safety and Enjoyment

1. Warm Up

Even the simplest exercises require some degree of warming up to prevent injury to muscles, and this is especially true for baseball, where certain motions are used repeatedly. Players ned to warm up their arms and legs before playing at full speed. Most coaches are aware of this, but it is important that parents make sure proper warm up is part of the preparation before playing.

2. Use Proper Equipment

Players should always protect vulnerable parts of their body and use equipment that is a good fit and is comfortable. They need helmets on when coming up to the plate and running the bases. A properly-sized baseball glove can not only help a player to make a play, but also prevent the ball from hitting their body.

3. Be Aware

Baseball practice often occurs in the afternoon or evening, when children are tired, hungry, and distracted - especially when they gather with large group of friends. It is important for parents and coaches to make sure that, when children are on the field, thay pay attention to what is going on around them and to always know where the baseball is.

4. Get Plenty of Rest

Playing baseball often means a long day. Tiredness increases the risk of injury and makes players more prone to distraction or misbehavior. Make sure children get plenty of rest and try not to over-schedule them during the week. A well-rested player not only lowers their chance of hurting themselves, they will get more enjoyment out of the game.

5. Eat Well

Good nutrition is important not just for sports, but for life in general. Players perform at their best when they are fueled up properly with a balanced and nutritious diet, and this can go a long way to helping them avoid injury. Eating the right foods will help kids to play at their best and really enjoy the game.

6. Teach and Model Good Behavior

Good sportsmanship is an important value in sports, and it is helpful for adults to keep in mind that sports not only teach the kids to be good athletes, but it should encourage them to be good people, as well. The lessons they learn playing with and against other kids will go a long way to helping them interact with other people as the grow.

7. Have Fun

Oddly enough, this may be one of the hardest lessons to teach, because we live in a culture where performance and winning are so important. As the old adage goes, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game." Constantly remind kids (and yourself) that having fun is the most important thing.

Though some may argue that it is just a game, for many children, baseball has become an integral part of growing up. Parents and children can make the most of the experience by practicing safe habits while learning to compete and interact with other children in a healthy and fun way.

If your child is playing baseball and you have questions or concerns, talk to your coaches, or better yet, become a coach or help out. Most of the parents who coach Little League are volunteers, and in many instances, will welcome parental help or participation, as long as it is delivered a healthy and constructive manner.

For more information about baseball safety, talk to your pediatrician and visit the website for Kid's Health and WebMD.