You're a parent watching from the sidelines, and your child is injured, and panic ensues. What happens next? Both parents and athletes look to coaches and athletic trainers (ATs) for guidance. For coaches and ATs, open communication and documentation are key to educating parents regarding athlete well-being and post-injury care. Nowadays, there is no shortage of communication options, so a lack of communication is simply unacceptable.
As awareness of youth sports injuries increases, prominent organizations like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) prioritize injury prevention and concussion education directed at parents and athletes. The more informed a parent is, the better they can support their child's recovery from a sports injury. Similarly, coaches and ATs can also use documentation to empower and educate parents and establish trust and demonstrate their investment in the athlete. Proper documentation allows coaches and ATs to refer back and communicate precisely what happened to the athlete and what happens next in layman's terms.
Thorough documentation might include the following:
- Athlete name, date, time and mechanism of injury
- Athlete's reported symptoms
- Coach and AT's observed symptoms
- Injury-specific aftercare instructions, facts and Return to Play protocol
Coaches and ATs should also establish a communication plan to inform parents of the athlete's injury and recovery process. Communication with parents empowers them to support their children and advocate for their well-being.
A good communication plan might include the following:
- Current contact information of parents/guardians
- An appointed individual (i.e., organization, coach, or AT) to communicate athlete injury information directly with parents/guardians
- An injury report
- Established frequency of communication, including days and hours of coach/AT availability
- Documentation of conversations with coaches, ATs and parents/guardians in which all can reference
- Coach and/or AT contact information
Parents want what's best for their children and should be informed to properly support their athlete's post-injury. Through thorough documentation and communication, coaches and ATs can relay information regarding athlete care to keep everyone informed and speed up recovery.
Click here for more on CDC's HEADS UP to Youth Sports injury education.
- 1. Csillan, D. (2018, October 4). Communication between athletic trainers and parents. Training & Conditioning. Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://training-conditioning.com/article/communication-between-athletic-trainers-and-parents/
- 2. Johannessen, L. (2015, November 9). Communication in the secondary school setting. NATA. Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://www.nata.org/blog/jordanb/communication-secondary-school-setting