Across the USA youth teams are getting into their spring season. So this is a good time for coaches to refresh themselves on the major points of the prevention and care of injuries. A coach first and foremost must do what he or she can to reduce the likelihood of injury. The factors over which a coach has some control include:
- Condition of the field
- Uneven surface
- Holes in the ground
- Rocks, glass, sticks or anything else other than grass and dirt
- Hazards next to the field
- Team benches
- Parking lot
- Lake, stream, etc.
- Anchor the goals
- Be aware of weather conditions
- Shelter nearby in case of dangerous weather
- Adjust or cancel the training session in extreme heat or cold
- Access to water
- Pre and post training and match hydration
- Player equipment
- Shoes fit properly
- Shin guards are in good condition
- Clothing appropriate for the climate
- Player fitness
- Proper physical fitness for the age group and the time in the season
- Design of training activities
- Length of training session appropriate to the age group
- Not too many vigorous activities in a row
- Time of day of training sessions and matches commensurate with the age group
- Proper teaching of techniques
Keep in mind please that soccer is a contact sport, so some injures will occur. Fortunately, most soccer injuries are relatively minor; sprains, scrapes, contusions and strains. However, some sever injuries do occur such as lacerations, tears to soft issue (ligaments, muscles or tendons), bone fractures and concussions. Coaches need to have an action plan for the occurrence of a severe injury. Who will apply immediate first aid? Who will call and guide emergency services? Who
will supervise the other players? Who will manage the reactions of the spectators?
Coaches and team mangers need to discuss and rehearse their action plan now at the beginning of the season. I also suggest that one or more of the adults who are regularly with the team take a sports first aid safety course. All of the staff should take the free on-line concussion course: http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/news/story.asp?story_id=5962.
The soccer season is a fun time for all involved. Let's also keep everyone safe and sound!
About Sam Snow:
Snow was named as Director of Coaching for US Youth Soccer in 2004, after joining the organization as the Assistant Director of Coaching Education in 2003. Prior to joining the US Youth Soccer Technical Department, Snow held positions as a U.S. Soccer National Staff Instructor and as a Director of Coaching for Louisiana Soccer Association. He has also coached at the high school (Norfolk Catholic High School), collegiate (Florida Southern College, University of South Florida,
Virginia Wesleyan College), state (Florida Youth Soccer Association) and regional (US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program Region III) levels. In 1977, Snow received his bachelor's degree from Virginia Wesleyan College and his Master of Arts - Physical Education from the University of South Florida in 1979. Snow holds a USSF "A" License and National Youth License, a Premier Diploma and National Goalkeeping Coaching License. He recently taught coaching clinics
at Soccer Nation Expo 2012 in Los Angeles.