Many school sports programs are dependent upon volunteer coaches to lead teams to victory and to do so in a way that keeps their students safe. Unfortunately, many school districts and private sports programs aren’t able to adequately prepare their volunteer coaches to be able to effectively protect their students. To assist new coaches, we have prepared this list of the three things every coach must be mindful of to help prevent injuries.
“When in doubt, sit them out.”
Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have legislation regarding youth sports concussion safety. Most have laws in place that require coaches to remove athletes exhibiting signs and symptoms of a concussion from the field of play or the practice at hand. Whether or not your state mandates this practice, we recommend that you err on the side of caution – “When in doubt, sit them out.” Another precaution in your best interest and that of your students is to keep a concussion information on hand, and to ensure that a copy is given to their parents, along with some notification of the potential injury.
Online Sports Safety Resources
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association offers online sports safety courses for youth sports coaches. We recommend this inexpensive course to all new or volunteer coaches – and even the more experienced – to help with injury prevention and detection techniques. Classes cover emergency planning, property equipment fitting, playing conditions and more and can be taken at your leisure online. The cost is $19.95 for the full course or $4.95 for any of their stand-alone modules.
The National Council of Youth Sports has published an ongoing series of articles called “Ask the Experts,” where they provide information and tips from occupational and physical therapists, and athletic trainers on a variety of topics, including strength and conditioning, injury rehabilitation, athlete performance and more. Bookmark this resource and check back for new information often!
Coaches should also take time to pursue certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), AED and first aid training. Click here to find a class through the Red Cross.
Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.
Coaches should have an emergency action plan in place that they and their staff or volunteers are intimately familiar with. This should include lists of allergies and medical conditions of players whenever possible, lists of emergency medical facilities near known playing fields, list of supplies needed or available and contact information for emergency services and family members for notifications. Click here for a template plan developed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports that you can use to develop your plan.
For more coaching resources, including injury assessment tools, coaching blogs and more, visit our ever-growing coaching resource library.