When the new sports seasons start it is so exciting that you may forget to take the time to make sure that your gymnasiums and fields are safe. Do a quick gym and field check to make sure that you have covered all the safety pitfalls that can go easily unnoticed. Your athletes and fans will thank you and your sports season can be all about winning and having fun- like it should be.
As President of SportsGraphics Incorporated, a Safety and Image Resource for Schools across America- and a coach myself, I have put together a quick check-off list that you can easily print to check the safety of your own facilities.
- Familiarize yourself with the training policies of your school district and make sure to plan your practices with rest and water breaks.
- Check to see that you understand your legal duties as a coach. These duties include offering instruction and offering correct and safe equipment and facilities. To offer proper conditioning, and offer proper emergency care.
- Check the area in which you will be practicing. Walk around and assess the entire area getting rid of any tripping hazards, holes in fields.
- Check the wall pads. Make sure they don’t need repair. Are the backboards and football posts padded properly?
- Check to see that bleachers have enclosures that prevent children from playing underneath.
- Check to see that the volleyball poles are secure. Make sure that you are observing manufacturer’s guidelines and that you are not making anything fit by jimmy rigging or making homemade adjustments.
- Check each individual player’s equipment for proper fit. Make sure that you have educated yourself on the latest enhanced safety equipment and educate your staff with latest trends available on decreasing injuries.
- Check that your players are physically fit enough to participate. Make sure you are participating in warm-up, stretching, and a cool down for your players even during pre-season practice programs.
- Check that athletes are matched with close equivalent weight, size and skill in terms of competition matching practices.
- Check to see that the players are always under the supervision of a qualified coach.
- Check to review emergency plans in case of injury and review it with everyone who will be involved.
- Check the record keeping for physical exams, attendance, eligibility forms, emergency cards, informed consents; and make sure there is a good clear and consistent form of record keeping done by all including substitute coaches.
- Check that you have informed the players about their own understanding of their responsibility in injury prevention.
These are a few critical procedures for you or your coaches to practice that will prevent the most common accidents that occur in high schools and middle schools across the country. Please don’t underestimate the importance of explaining the responsibility that the athletes have in making safety a priority for themselves.
Written from the perspective of a father of five, a football coach and as a Safety and Image Specialist for the company SportsGraphics.