Most youth sports coaches are parent volunteers who may have little-to-no training in injury prevention. If you coach a youth sports team, you may be wondering what additional things you can do to keep your players safe from injuries and to help develop them into better athletes. Here are a few ideas.
Functional Movement Screenings
In most youth leagues, health screenings or physical evaluations are required in order for parents to sign their child athletes up for the programs. However, these screenings and evaluations are usually done by pediatricians or walk-in wellness clinics and generally only check for six types of medical issues that could affect a general athlete.
For the best in injury prevention for the athletes on your team, require them to go a step further and get a functional movement screening to address the specific sport you are coaching them in. For example, basketball players tend to be prone to knee injuries, so this screening can focus on the functional movement of the knees, which can be done by a physical therapist.
Concussions can sideline your athletes for several weeks to several months, but they can also severely impact their ability to perform well at school. Concussions are brain injuries and, therefore, need to be taken seriously, but they can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Concussions can affect different people differently.
The first step in managing concussions is to establish a pre-concussion guideline for each player on your team. There are software programs available, such as ImPACT, which can be used to determine whether or not a concussion has impacted an athlete's ability to concentrate, answer questions appropriately, and their reaction time when answering questions. A physical therapist in your area may have a concussion management program for athletic teams in your area.
Sports Injury Screening
High schools, colleges, and professional sports teams have athletic trainers on staff. Athletic trainers are the first people who assess injuries for these types of teams, during practice and games. For youth sports teams such as yours, coaches and parents are typically the first ones to assess musculoskeletal injuries while on the field.
While it may not be feasible to have an athletic trainer or physical therapist on the field during practice and regular games, it is a good idea for the team to have an established relationship with a local physical therapist for sports injury screenings so they can be done as soon as possible following an injury.