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10 year old ds nearly blinded by hockey stick - what to say to the school

(91 Posts)
maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:14:23

I've changed my name for this because I will be easily identifiable by anyone who is an Mnetter at my school - so would rather use a new name with no posting history attached to it.

Ds (Y6) was hit very near the eye by a hockey stick yesterday at school. He has a swollen black eye today and he had a cut which needed attention at A&E right next to his eye. The A&E doctor remarked upon how fortunate my son was that the hockey stick didn't actually get in his eye - the consequences would have been grave.

All is well that ends well you may think - except it isn't is it. This was a dangerous near miss. Ds tells me that his hockey game was being supervised by a teaching assistant (the games teacher was coaching another group in netball) and there had already by some high spirits and messing about during the game. The actual incident occurred when one boy took a swing at the ball and missed it, the hockey stick then travelling through to hit my ds who was defending at the time. I feel for the other boy - he was in floods of tears when I went to collect ds, and I really am not interested in a ' witch hunt' or blaming the other child....

I never really played much hockey at school so I am looking to all of you for advice about what safety precautions and preparation schools should put in when coaching and supervising hockey. I can't help but feel that perhaps they haven't drilled into the 10/ 11 year olds how potentially dangerous hockey sticks are and that the children aren't taking the matter of safety around hockey sticks sufficiently gravely? Also shouldn't there be a policy of 'one strike and your out'? - i.e. if there is any silliness on the hockey field rather than being warned the offending child should have to sit out the rest of the hockey practice / game?

I don't want to leave the matter here - I want to write to the school and ask them to carry out an investigation and produce a report making recommendations to prevent any future occurrences. What should I ask? How should I put it - your thoughts would be appreciated

PureMorning Fri 21-Nov-14 14:17:07

It sounds like an accident. A bad one but an accident all the same.

Greyhound Fri 21-Nov-14 14:18:33

I am really sorry your son was hurt - must have been awful sad From what I remember about hockey (I loathed it), it could be a rather dangerous game. Tbh, I would have thought that, nowadays, children would wear protective helmets, but perhaps not?

I would speak to the head of PE and ask what safety measures are put in place. Some bumps and grazes etc are inevitable and hard to avoid, but a child being nearly blinded is quite different.

I would then put my concerns in writing in a lead to the HT and ask for a full review.

There may have been silliness before the game, but that may be unconnected to the actual incident.

maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:18:57

Sure, but some accidents can be prevented surely?

maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:19:58

Thanks greyhound - absolutely. I wouldn't be concerned if he had a bruised or cut shin!

maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:22:00

..sorry, I meant I agree that some bumps and bruises are inevitable and am glad that you agree that a near blinding incident is a different matter

TywysogesGymraeg Fri 21-Nov-14 14:23:07

What would you like the school to do?

maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:25:40

I'd like the school to ensure that hockey games are supervised by a qualified games teacher not the TA, that there is a strict 'one strike and you're out policy' (as I described in my op) to instil appropriate discipline on the pitch etc etc - but I don't know what is good practice in hockey, I never really played it. I was hoping a keen hockey player might give me some pointers about what the school should be doing

schoolclosed Fri 21-Nov-14 14:29:40

I don't think your request is unreasonable. I mean, what's wrong with asking the school to look at how the game was supervised? A high stick in the face of an opponent is clearly dangerous play, and something that a referee would have penalised in a proper game. When we played hockey at school we were (a) a year older and (b) closely supervised.

TywysogesGymraeg Fri 21-Nov-14 14:29:54

I'm sure the TA was qualified to supervise a hockey match - as another poster said, it is intrinsically a dangerous game, involving sticks.

I suspect the accident would have happened had the teacher been in charge, because, from what you said above, the it happened during the course of the game -one boy took a swing at the ball and missed it, the hockey stick then travelling through to hit my ds who was defending at the time.

This could happen in any game.

Shootthemoon Fri 21-Nov-14 14:30:12

I'm really sorry that your son was hurt.

I play hockey at a reasonably serious level. When I was 13, I ran off to hit a ball after a match and didn't realise that my friend had followed behind me. My flow through hit her in the face, and badly bruised her jaw as well as hitting her right next to the corner of her eye. It was very close to doing permanent damage. I still feel dreadful!

From what you describe I think the incident you described was an unfortunate accident. I have been playing for 20 years and still very occasionally I get it wrong and miss the ball. In fact someone usually does it every other match or so. As you get more experienced as a player, you learn where to position your body relative to the player on the ball, so that the stick can't hit you.

Fwiw, I have had my eyebrow split open, my lip cut open, and my chin split open, as well as breaking fingers and an ankle, all while playing. All were completely accidental and I was just in the wrong place.

The GB captain Kate Walsh had her jaw broken in the Olympics - it happens.

I think you just need to let it go. Accidents happen, not just in sport, but everywhere - there isn't always a lesson to be learned I'm afraid.

LemonBreeland Fri 21-Nov-14 14:32:40

I don't think hockey should be played in primary school. DS1 was hit in the face a few weeks ago too. He had a huge cut on his lip. He could have knocked teeth out. I just don't think that primary age children are old enough to play something as potentially dangerous as hockey.

Shootthemoon Fri 21-Nov-14 14:35:25

Lemonbreeland, is it school policy to wear mouthguards? It should be. Teeth are reasonably well protected with a mouthguard in and England Hockey have a mouthguard and shin pads policy.

At my club we have teams from under 8, but we have 4 and 5 year olds playing if they are especially keen and if they will follow instruction.

maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:36:42

Can that be taught shootthemoon? i.e. learning to position your body so that the other player can't inadvertently hit you? Or is that really only acquired through experience?

berceuse Fri 21-Nov-14 14:40:47

I don't have much current day knowledge but I did used to play hockey for the county team back in the day.

Accidents do happen and it can be quite a rough sport.

We used to have a sticks rule, in rough terms it meant sticks should not be above shoulder height - but if your DS was not stood upright he could still be whacked around the head even with this rule (not sure what exists today).

My DD tried hockey at a club a few times - they were very hot on giving a safety talk at the start of each session.

I am not sure I agree with the distinction between teacher and TA though without knowing them, the TA could be a former high level hockey player and very suitable for this task.

I do think that discipline on pitch is very important at this age but it does sound like it was simply an accident.

maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:41:52

Lemonbreeland - I am inclined to agree that primary school children shouldn't be involved in hockey. I don't feel that they are mature enough.

I do however feel differently about primary school age children being coached and participating in local hockey clubs (where presumably the coaches etc are more experienced and know exactly what they are doing).

Tywy - I am not criticising the TA in this instance, she is a friend of mine! But the TA's at school - although key members of the teaching staff and a very valuable resource, often know very little about certain sports. We've chatted about it and they would concur with this!

Shootthemoon Fri 21-Nov-14 14:43:47

I wouldn't say it could be taught really, though normal training will include how to close down a player and tackle from the strong side, which is also not the side to which you follow through. But if you start being in reverse strikes etc then it is unpredictable.

I had more injuries in school hockey than any other kind, because there is a mixture of very inexperienced players and often kids who are playing regional/national hockey, which means the ball is moving fast but not everyone can handle it.

I am certain that the school will reinforce the rules (you can't lift the stick above a certain height, for example). BUT this will still not prevent accidents - you can't help if you miss the ball, stumble, slide, fall, miss-hit etc.

Kids are growing into their limbs and strength and don't always have good proprioception or exteroception - they just sometimes get it a bit wrong.

Sympathy to your son in any case - arnica cream will bring out the bruising faster and the cut will heal. Just remind him that when tackling, the closer you stand, the safer you are!

maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:45:14

The safety drill before each session sounds sensible. I must ask ds if this happened prior to the game yesterday

maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:47:36

Ah that's what I mean shootthemoon - good advice, i.e. when tackling the closer you are the safer you are. That would not have occurred to me nor to my ds - I wonder if it would occur to the teaching staff to advise kids of this?

Thanks for taking the time to give a comprehensive reply....I do feel a bit better informed

maverick1 Fri 21-Nov-14 14:51:01

Will check in again later to see if there are any further posts, but for now must go out...

Thanks to all who have commented

runoutofideasagain Fri 21-Nov-14 14:52:11

The 'hockey' my children play at school involves plastic sticks and balls rather than real hockey sticks (yr 5 and 3) - don't know if this would be better?

TychosNose Fri 21-Nov-14 15:02:23

When I played hockey at school we were taught to bend our elbows when swinging at the ball to prevent our sticks from going too high. It's hard to describe but instead of a golf-style swing, imagine holding your arms out straight as if holding the stick at the top with both hands, then swing back but bending your back arm (right arm if you're right-handed). This stops you being able to swing the stick too high. Could you ask that the school teaches this?

18yearstooold Fri 21-Nov-14 15:18:53

Our primary do hockey from yr3 upwards using plastic sticks

Safety drill before every lesson
Sticks not above waist height
1 warning then you sit out and they are very hot on it especially me when i'm helping referee

DeWee Fri 21-Nov-14 15:23:14

Similar happened to a friend when dh used to play hockey. Only in his case it did actually hit the eye and the lad involved had a detatched retina.

They were all 18yo and sensible lads. It was just an accident where one lad dashed in to tackle as another went to hit.

Tychosnose I don't think you play left hand/right hand hockey-it's the same for both.

snice Fri 21-Nov-14 15:27:02

A good rule of thumb with hockey to avoid getting whacked is to either stand very close to a player or more than a stick length away- in between is the danger zone!

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