The first thought for a parent for a boy going into his first sport is pride. And the first concern for a parent with a boy participating in that sport is safety. The bat, the gloves, the skates, shoes, and all athletic gear is critical for safety. Planning for performance and planning for injury prevention both have serious implications that parents have to consider.
The genitals are the most vulnerable and easily injured area for male athletes of all ages. These injuries can be very serious, so naturally, you want your son to be protected. But, like any other responsible parent, you have questions, and this guide will help.
Is a groin cup really necessary?
Often... but if your son is in basketball, track, or tennis, No. But most boys tend to go into team sports where there is a ball, a fast moving puck or stick that can (and will) hit them at some point.
If he is playing a sport that involves a considerable risk of injury – hockey, MMA, football, fencing, lacrosse, karate, even horse riding, or paintball for that matter – he needs a strong, dependable, and perfectly-fitted groin cup. He may not be aware that he even needs it. That is your job as a parent to help him understand.
At what age should a boy begin wearing a groin cup?
Boys need to wear groin cups only after they hit puberty.
A boy’s age or even the size of his testicles do not determine when he should start wearing a cup. It’s the risk of injury that matters the most! A hit to that area is bad at all ages.
Whether your son is learning taekwondo at the age of 8 or 18 years, he needs a groin cup. Period. An unprotected groin is exposed to injury, whether it’s in martial arts, hockey, baseball, or any other sport. Irrespective of your kid’s age and size of testicles, any injuries to genitals can leave permanent damage.
What type of cup should my son wear?
Most kids (and teens) under the age of 16 do not purchase the groin cup on their own. It’s their parents that make the decision. Sadly, most adults, especially women, do not have the knowledge or any experience with male genital protection. This often leads to bad purchase decisions, ultimately leading to unwitting injuries to their son.
Here is a quick lowdown on the things you must consider when buying a groin cup:
Every sport has a different risk of injury and hence needs different types of protective cups. Consider the speed of objects in the sports... the ball, the stick, and the puck. If it moves fast, then there is risk of genital impact.
Groin cups come in several material combinations – plastics (sometimes with steel inserts), tough polymers, carbon fiber, and others. In many cases, they feature a gel pad, or other soft material on the outer edges for shock absorbance on impact, and for comfort.
Size matters! If you pick a bigger size, the cup may move around and compromise the degree of protection it offers. A smaller size won’t fit properly if he is older, and his testicle may be pressed into the sides of the cup. That is dangerous. A cup only works if it takes the impact, not his testicles.
Apart from the size, there’s one more thing that determines the fit of the cup – body type. Different body types often require different groin cups. Typically, the body changes with age. So, cups are generally classified based on the age of the user. The sport has to be taken into account also. A baseball catcher has different needs compared to an MMA sport for example.
My son plays different sports. Which cup would give him the best protection?
Different sports often require different types of genital protection. Therefore, it’s common among sports enthusiasts to have multiple types of groin cups for different sports. It is a good idea for boys to have multiple cups depending on the sport. Ice Hockey, for example, needs a very different type of cup from most MMA sports. The speed of the puck changes the risk level in this case.
Protect his testicles well.
A well-designed and ruggedly built groin cup is the only thing standing between your son and unbearable pain or even lasting genital damage. No parent wants to even think about that. Your son doesn't either. So invest in high quality groin protection and prepare him for the rigor of the sports they love.
He will appreciate the protection even if he doesn't say so.
He might not say "thank you", but the first time he takes a hard hit to the cup he will think about it, and understand how lucky he was to have good groin protection. Young athletes need to focus on their sport, not their testicles.
A good quality cup allows that to happen.
Photo by STUDIO SLAKTHUSET