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Risk Management Tips For Coaches

Even if your club or organization offers insurance against lawsuits by injured players, no coach wants to spend needless uncompensated hours in litigation - or deal with the personal anguish if a player is seriously hurt. Here are some basic risk-management tips which will help you to avoid such problems.

  1. Properly plan the activity, and teach skills in a 'reasonable' progression. Avoid teaching advanced skills too quickly, or pushing players to do things that they are not reasonably capable of doing without risk to themselves or others.
  2. Provide proper instruction so players learn to execute skills correctly. Be sure to warn of the risks to self and others if the skill is not done properly.
  3. Proper conditioning and training will also help prevent injury. Stretching is a good habit to begin at the younger age groups, and should be mandatory.
  4. Provide a safe physical environment--you have a duty to notice hazards and to do what you can to reduce their risk (i.e., place a bright colored cloth over a protruding rock on a practice field).
  5. Provide adequate and proper equipment
  6. Match your athletes with others of their own height/weight/ability where physical contact is likely to take place
  7. Supervise the activity closely
  8. Warn of inherent risks, as you are responsible to provide instructions regarding the safety of the sport. Courts have held soccer coaches liable for failure to warn of the risks of contact or collisions. Even though it may seem obvious to you, issue the warning of all risks that are apparent.
  9. Provide appropriate emergency assistance
Updated 11 March 1999
Overview | Principles | Resources | Guidelines | Practices | Game Day | Very Young | More Reading