The Key to Saving Athlete’s Lives: Coach Education and Training

Coach education and training saves athlete’s lives. Coaches have a legal obligation to provide proper instruction, evaluate athlete’s for injury, provide a safe physical environment and plan suitable activity. Without proper education, coaches are falling short as athlete care providers. 

It’s as serious as this, trained coaches save lives while untrained coaches can be held liable for an athlete's death. 

In 2019, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association studied youth athlete deaths from 2007-2015 and found that of 45 fatalities, 16 occurred during basketball (35.6%) and two-thirds (67%) of all deaths took place during practice. A standard of care surrounding coach training can properly educate coaches about these glaring safety concerns and crucial measures to protect athletes.

In December 2022, a Long Island high school basketball coach performed life saving CPR after his 17 year old athlete collapsed. Without this training, we know the outcome is severe. Athlete’s lives are at stake and coaches are responsible for their well-being. If coaches adopt and practice legal and ethical responsibilities, most litigation against them would not occur. 

In May 2021, Maryland’s Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act was signed into law. The Act requires public college sports programs in Maryland to adopt and implement guidelines to prevent, assess and treat serious sports-related conditions and to report annually on athletes' health and safety. This is one example of a profound initiative to prioritize athlete safety through care standardization. 

We must change the culture of coach education by establishing a standard of care for the sake of the athlete's health. Many organizations provide accessible coach education on topics such as sudden cardiac arrest, concussions, first aid, heat related illness prevention and additional injury prevention education. The Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma brings together coaches, athletic trainers, sports medicine first responders, EMS and ER staff to discuss the range of athletic injuries. 

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  1. Brad D. Endres, Zachary Y. Kerr, Rebecca L. Stearns, William M. Adams, Yuri Hosokawa, Robert A. Huggins, Kristen L. Kucera, Douglas J. Casa; Epidemiology of Sudden Death in Organized Youth Sports in the United States, 2007–2015. J Athl Train 2 April 2019; 54 (4): 349–355. doi:


  3. Sager, S. (2022, December 10). Long island basketball player alive after collapsing thanks to CPR-trained coaches. ABC7 New York. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from ABC7NY

  4. Thomas R. Hurst & James N. Knight, Coaches' Liability for Athletes' Injuries and Deaths, 13 Seton Hall J. Sport L. 27 (2003), available at


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