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Hey Coach, set a good example: Use and share sunscreen

UpdatedMonday August 21, 2017 byPOB Soccer.

May 01, 2015 | by Dev Mishra, M.D., Soccer America

* Many types of cancers are strongly associated with repeated exposures to cancer triggers, and the association between sun exposure and some types of skin cancer is strong.

* Sunscreen is a simple and effective way to reduce sun exposure risk.

* Only about 20% of young athletes routinely use sunscreen for daytime outdoor sports.

* Coaches are in an excellent position to positively influence the young athlete’s attitude and use of sunscreen.

Veteran soccer referee Randy Vogt wrote an excellent piece in Soccer America’s Youth Soccer Insider about the importance of sun protection for referees. The article encourages referees to take care of themselves with appropriate protection (hat, sunscreen), which sometimes requires the ref to challenge traditional dogma. I couldn’t agree more. In this week’s post I wanted to examine the issue of skin cancer risk with an eye toward the young player.

Sun exposure increases risk of skin cancer in many outdoor sports and young athletes rarely use sunscreen.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation that comes with sun exposure is estimated to be one of the most important risk factors for nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancers. Athletes practicing outdoor sports receive considerable UV doses because of training and competition schedules with high sun exposure, and in alpine sports, by altitude-related increase of UV radiation and reflection from snow- and ice-covered surfaces.

Young athletes commonly have an indifferent attitude towards sun protection. In several published studies it’s been shown that only about 20% of outdoor sport athletes routinely use proper sunscreen for daytime practices and games. For most of the athletes the reasons cited for lack of sunscreen use were mostly psychological. They simply don’t think about it, they don’t know the association between sun exposure and skin cancer, or they may even be practicing resistance because some parents force sunscreen on to the young kids.

There are some physical reasons for not using sunscreen too, such as complaints that sunscreen combined with facial sweat will sting the eyes, and some sunscreens are “greasy” resulting in decreased grip. These are valid points but the newer generation of sport sunscreens are designed to really minimize these problems.

Coaches need to set the example for the young athlete

Some of the studies on sunscreen use in young athletes note that the athlete may be practicing a form of resistance towards their parents if the sunscreen is slathered on before practices and required by their parents. It’s hard to know whether that might or might not be true, but one thing is common in most sports: if the coach requires it, it will generally be done.

In my opinion the coach is in a great position to positively influence good behavior in young athletes. Use sunscreen yourself and put a large container in your sideline kit for your young athletes. If the sun’s out ask them to use it. It takes virtually no time, there’s nothing to lose and much to gain.

Through their eyes