Topic 3 – Safety

Safe Environment

The first step to safety as a coach is making sure the environment is safe. Some examples of an unsafe environment would include the walls being too close to the court, cracks in the court or pavement, lighting issues, nail sticking out the floor or wall, no water, no emergency exits, etc. The coach is responsible for the well-being of players while they are at practice or at games, so it is their job to look out for these issues. Coaches could prepare for these situations by scouting out the area where practice and games will be held and having safety materials such as water, first aid kit, etc., on hand.

After the environment is safe it is important to then make sure there is safety for players while doing conditioning, skill drills, or scrimmaging.  While players are doing conditioning coaches should look to stop problems before they happen.  An example of a future issue would be spotting an untied shoe, or stopping a player when it seems they are near exhaustion.  During conditioning, players are often sprinting, which requires agility, acceleration, and good physical condition.  If players are not in sufficient shape an injury can occur.  During skill-based drills, similar problems can occur.  During scrimmages or competitive games all of the same issues can occur, but the coach is typically distracted by the game itself.  When an issue does become apparent, it is important to stop the game regardless of the situation and solve the issue at hand.  To prevent issues such as injuries, or poor physical condition, it is important to do activities such as stretching and light running both pre and post-practice.  

First-Aid Training

First-aid training is valuable to have in case some sort of injury or exhaustion occurs.  If the coach has training, all the better, but as the coach they should ensure that some member of the staff, either an assistant or a trainer, even a parent, is trained just in case something unfortunate happens.  

Appropriate variance of players

Coaches should ensure that all players participating together have comparable age, physique, and skill level.  Too large of variances in these categories can result in unsafe conditions for all players.  A way to make sure the variance of these categories are not too large would be to have a pre-draft(or pre league formation) workout.  A pre workout would allow coaches to relocate anybody to low or high in any of these categories to a different league or team.  

Another way coaches can ensure player safety would be non-contact practices.  Less contact generally results in less injuries.  It also allows players to focus more on their skills and conditioning.

Precautions

This graph represents injury causes across 15 different sports. Clearly the majority of injuries come from player contact, even in practice.  Removing contact does not infact result in less injuries.

Many teams will have to go on the road and travel to face other teams.  Most cities have areas that are generally not safe, especially for tourists.  Before booking hotels, and deciding locations of practices, games, etc, coaches should make sure it is in a safe area.  Players should never leave the hotel, or wherever they are staying, unattended.  If players are to leave the hotel, they should go in a group, and alert the coach that they are leaving.  As a coach similar policies should be enforced to ensure safety.  If traveling to different countries, their customs could be different, it is important to inform players of the differences.  Other countries often have different food, or poor tap water, so it would be a good idea to bring some food from the home country, and find a good source of water.

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