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14U/16U Q-and-A: Staying Healthy During Playoff Push and the Off-Season

03/13/2019, 9:15am MDT
By Kevin Margarucci; Manager of Player Safety

Q: How to stay healthy during the playoff push and into the off-season?

A: While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) tell us that December through February is the peak of flu season, the flu can strike at any time. As many may be traveling for national tournaments this time of year, it’s best to stay on top of illness prevention to keep you on the ice and enjoying the end of the season tournaments.

Q: What is Influenza?

A: Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.  The flu vaccine is recommended by the CDC.  Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.  Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea.  If flu symptoms occur, you should have your player evaluated by a physician and started on antiviral medication if necessary.

“Influenza is not specific to hockey and is by no means an epidemic. However, we have had cases in hockey and as a responsible youth sports organization, it’s important we share tips to help prevent the spread of influenza and also raise awareness in the hockey community,” 

Dr. Michael Stuart, USA Hockey’s Chief Medical and Safety Officer

Here are some tips on how to prevent and stop the spread of influenza and other illnesses:       

  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick
  • Quarantine those with flu symptoms (players, coaches, parents)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Use individual water bottles and keep them clean
  • Don’t try to “play through” the illness
  • See your doctor
  • For more information on influenza, visit

About the Author

Kevin Margarucci, who has more than 20 years of experience as a certified athletic trainer, has been involved in hockey in varying capacities (player, coach, certified athletic trainer) for more than 35 years.

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