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 ensure you have covered all the safety pitfalls that can go unnoticed. Your athletes and fans will thank you, and your sports season can be all about winning and having fun as it should be.

If you lead an educational facility, it’s not only germs you have to worry about but injuries, especially when it comes to students in sports. As character-building and fun as these opportunities can be, it’s undeniable that all sports create the possibility for physical injury.

As an administrator or coach, it’s your duty to prevent injury and keep your student body safe, but how are you to tackle such a broad obligation? Of course, you’re driven to protect the welfare of your students, but the concept of “safety” as it pertains to school sports is so multifaceted. How can you make sure you have all your bases covered, so to speak?

As President of SportsGraphics Incorporated, a safety and image resource for schools across America, and a coach, I have compiled this guide on ensuring your fields and gyms are safe. 

It’s All About the Right Equipment

First and foremost, invest in only the highest quality personal gear that your school can afford. We’re talking helmets, mouthguards, and other applicable equipment for the sport. Your students’ safety is on the line. Remember this and acknowledge your role in it.

Beyond the standard equipment required for safety in each sport, many types of athletic facility padding can help prevent injuries at indoor and outdoor sports facilities. 

As soon as you get the chance, go out and check all of your school’s various facility padding equipment.

Gym Wall Padding

One of the most crucial school safety products is padding around the walls. So many sports and activities are held in the gym, and when students run around, things can get dangerous quickly.

As a crucial factor in preventing head trauma and concussions, your school’s gym wall padding protects athletes and fans. In high-contact sports like wrestling and basketball, wall pads are critical to reduce the chance of injury during a collision. 

If your gym has very old or worn-out wall pads, prompt replacement should be a priority. 

Bleacher Enclosures

Whether you’re trying to protect elementary school, junior high, or high school students, you probably know kids like having fun and messing around a little. One place that might seem like a grand time to youth is bleachers, as kids might think it’s fun to play under them, but that type of behavior can quickly lead to falls and injuries. 

Installing bleacher safety curtains can not only help mitigate student accidents but also help deter theft, vandalism, or any other criminal activity. They are an overall good idea to keep your school running smoothly and keeping your students safe.  If you’d like to learn more, check out this guide to bleacher safety curtains

Stage Padding

Your school’s stages, whether in a gym or auditorium, are essential areas where students, faculty, and parents can gather for events. From pep rallies to performances, stages are critical for community and recreation in a school setting. 

You want to protect the area below the stage and between the audience. Custom stage padding lets you show off your school’s colors and name while protecting students from accidents. 

Outdoor Padding 

When you think of protecting students from injuries, you might imagine mats around gyms, but many injuries from sports and other school activities happen outside. You want to provide extensive protection whenever possible, so looking into outdoor padding options is ideal.

From chain-link fencing to goalposts, the right outdoor padding can protect your athletes from all sorts of dangerous collisions. These products are important for football, cheerleading, and soccer. 

Checking this over before the season begins is of utmost importance!

How to Keep Day-to-Day Gym Classes Safe & Fun

When your athletes hit the court, you know they have the skills they need to keep themselves safe while playing hard. However, many schools offer or require a daily gym class, and while these classes are an important outlet for the entire student body, they can be tricky to run.

Children in the same class can be at wildly differing physical fitness levels. The same activities are unsuitable for everyone, which can leave some students either injured or feeling left out. At the same time, though, segregating by ability level can lead to similar results.

How can you keep everyone, no matter their ability, in a daily gym class both safe from injury and mentally engaged?

Addressing the Physical Side

Daily gym class is much more unpredictable than any official sporting event. When non-athletes begin to get fit, there are bound to be a few learning curves, and being athletic means different things as far as your school’s various sports are concerned. 

All this means that things can quickly get out of hand thanks to the variety of skills in the room and the potential lack of experience with a given activity. Wall padding is the best way to keep active kids safe. 

Prevent Concussive Injury With Custom Wall Pads

You need gym-wide protection in the form of wall mats to prevent any sort of concussive injury to fledgling and experienced athletes alike. 

When students concentrate on learning a new activity, they can easily forget where they are; plus, your school wouldn’t want to lose an athlete in a given sport because they were injured while trying to learn another.

Custom Wall Pads Tested for Protection 

At SportsGraphics, we’re pleased to be part of the solution. The safety and health of athletes has always been our highest priority and mission. For over 35 years now, we have provided the highest quality indoor and outdoor wall padding. SportsGraphics custom designs, constructs, and manufactures protective padding products to fit any space you request.

We’re so serious about safety that we’ve conducted our own independent research to see how our 3” foam wall pads stack up against the competition. SportsGraphics looked specifically at the shock absorption performance as it pertains to impact. 

Our experts conducted G-max or impact testing to measure the shock attenuation performance of a playing surface. We found that our 3” foam wall pads provide superior protection against concussions.

Boost School Pride With Branded Products

One of the easiest ways to boost morale is to deck out your gym in branded products, such as gym wall graphics, window graphics, or bleacher enclosures. 

By doing so, you remind every student in your class that they’re all part of something bigger than themselves and that they all work out under the same mascot. 

Promoting unity helps to make everyone feel included – even the students that might not be as athletically inclined as others. Learn more about the importance of school branding

At the End of the Day, Understand Your Duties as Coach

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.

As a coach, you are largely responsible for the safety of the students on your teams and organizations. While parents, school administrators, and more also have a responsibility, you are going to be the one attending practices, games, and training. Be extra diligent and ensure all safety requirements are followed. 

A Checklist from President Conlon

As mentioned above, assessing the safety of your school’s gyms and fields is important. While this can be a lot of information to absorb, President Conlon has put together a quick checklist to help you remember. 

Refer to this list and make sure to check off all the boxes. With this quick check-off list, you can easily print it out to check the safety of your facilities.

11-Step Safety Checklist Overview & Wrap-Up 

  1. Check the area in which you will be practicing. Walk around and assess the entire area, getting rid of any tripping hazards and holes in fields.

  2. Check the wall pads. Make sure they don’t need repair. Are the backboards and football posts padded properly?

  3. Check to see that bleachers have enclosures that prevent children from playing underneath.

  4. Check to see that the volleyball poles are secure. Ensure that you are observing the manufacturer’s guidelines and not making anything fit by Jimmy-rigging or making homemade adjustments.

  5. Check each individual player’s equipment for proper fit. Ensure you have educated yourself on the latest enhanced safety equipment and educate your staff on the latest trends available on decreasing injuries.

  6. Check that your players are physically fit enough to participate. Ensure you are participating in the warm-up, stretching, and cool-down for your players, even during pre-season practice programs.

  7. Check that athletes are matched with close equivalent weight, size, and skill in terms of competition matching practices.

  8. Check to see that the players are always under the supervision of a qualified coach.

  9. Check to review emergency plans in case of injury and review it with everyone who will be involved.

  10. Check the record-keeping for physical exams, attendance, eligibility forms, emergency cards, and informed consent, and make sure all, including substitute coaches, do a good, clear, and consistent form of record-keeping.

  11. 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 athletes' responsibility 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.

Patrick Conlon


SportsGraphics, Inc.

Contact SportsGraphics for More Information on Safety

If you are looking for state-of-the-art products to enhance athletic facilities’ safety and brand awareness, contact our team at SportsGraphics today. We know the safety and appearance of your athletic facilities should be prioritized, and we can create custom products designed to help your school stand out while keeping everyone safer.

If your school is in need of better wall padding, bleacher enclosures, or even a whole new rebranding, we’d be happy to help. Give us a call now at 1-800-257-6405.