With youth sports injuries at a record-breaking high, it's time to spotlight the coach's role in sport safety. Coaches must work alongside Athletic Trainers (ATs) to support athletes' well-being through essential practices like documentation and documentation data collection. ATs can't do it alone. However, the overall burden lessens when coaches assume their role alongside ATs in the sports safety ecosystem, and athletes reap the benefits.
What's the Problem?
Lack of coach reporting through insufficient documentation and data collection continues to plague the sports world and critically impact athletes. Lack of injury reporting overburdens ATs, resulting in more athlete injuries, which increases liability for the organization and accrues higher costs to parents. While all coaches may not possess the background knowledge to recognize certain injuries, documentation ensures that coaches have the complete picture of an athlete's health to provide proper support following an injury.
Coach reporting is a technique that uses data analysis to provide coaches with insights into their team's performance. But is this method of reporting even feasible? The answer is yes, but underreporting remains an issue. To understand coaches' perceptions and behaviors toward reporting and managing injuries, Vella et al. (2021) interviewed football coaches. They found that coaches reported varying processes for perceiving, dealing with, reporting, and managing an injury. The problem extends beyond feasibility and bleeds into coaching knowledge gaps. The issue here becomes the need for mandated and standardized injury reporting and risk management processes. Without it, coaches risk athlete safety and personal liability.
How Do We Fix the Problem?
Coaches and ATs should focus on feasible, realistic and goal-driven strategies when beginning documentation and data collection and considering how to report. Additionally, organizations must have guidelines on when to report. The best practice is to address injury reporting as a care ecosystem and create standardized sports safety protocols. If the goal is to support athlete safety and well-being, aim to make documentation and data collection a common practice.
Click here to download your copy of the White Paper today!