Sports and physical activities are meant to be fun, but if you aren't careful you could risk serious injury. If you follow only a few simple principles while being active, you can prevent many types of injuries.
Note: the images used in this instructable are creative commons with attribution, listed below in order of use:
Step 1: Understand and Follow the Rules
Depending on the sport you plan to take part in, make sure you are comfortable and familiar with all rules and regulations set forth. You can often find rulebooks online or from local sports organizations in your own neighborhood. Rules not only keep the game fair, but are often created to prevent injury to yourself and to others.
Step 2: Wear Protective Gear and Equipment
Whether you are playing competitively, professionally or with some friends, you should always wear the proper protective gear.
Step 3: Test Your Equipment
Before using any of the equipment required of your sport, make sure to inspect it for defects and that it is safe to use.
Step 4: No Equipment? Don't Risk It
While pads and helmets aren't the most fashionable accessories, the are designed to protect the fragile body. Don't take the risk and always make sure you have all equipment necessary. If you are in charge of managing a team, make sure you provide the necessary equipment as well or your risk facing a personal injury lawsuit.
Step 5: Warm Up
You should never play sports or take part in highly active activity while you body is cold. Perform a few stretches to warm up your muscles and consider doing some light cardio.
Step 6: Don't Overwork Your Body
If you stretch too long or too hard, you could pull a muscle. If you ever feel pain during your warm-up or even while playing your sport, stop immediately and take a break.
Step 7: Stretch
Perform ballistic stretches during short breaks in your game. Static stretching can tire muscles out but ballistic stretching will feel good and keep your muscles warm.
Step 8: Get in Shape
You can almost always participate at some level in just about any sport you wish to play, but be wary of the competitive level you wish to participate in. If your physical condition doesn't meet the level you will be playing at, you risk injury.
Step 9: Work Out Regularly
Keep your body in satisfactory condition. Even small workouts throughout the week can help prevent injuries.