First aid for sport – why sports coaches need sports first aid training

first aid for sport - trainer with injured trainee
first aid for sport – sports coach with injured trainee

The life of a sports coach is varied and challenging. The aim is to develop the talents of the individual athlete while addressing any physical requirements. Although coaching roles vary according to the specific sport, all require a sound understanding of basic first aid from the side-lines. This article addresses the general aspects of first aid for sport, whether you are a football coach, a track and field specialist, a physiotherapist, or a match official.
A sports coach’s responsibilities extend to the sportspersons health and safety, this includes injury prevention as well injury treatment, on and off the area of play. Unfortunately, injuries and accidents will occur during player development and it is important that the coach is trained in first aid to a level that they can provide the appropriate treatment to a wide range of sporting incidents.

First aid for sport – Prevention

The prevention can be split into two categories, immediate prevention and long-term prevention. “Prevention” is all part of the planning side of coaching.

Prevention can include inspection of any equipment and apparatus used and the environment in which the coaching will take place to make sure the correct treatment can be administered.

Immediate prevention includes a study of the coaching environment to check equipment before next use for wear and tear and the identification of any damage while in storage. Equipment checks are completed to ascertain that its condition is suitable for immediate use and will not cause injuries.

Long-term prevention is a more thorough assessment of the equipment and is conducted long before the event. Long-term prevention takes into consideration the number of trainees, the number of staff required and what training and qualifications they have and also the equipment required such as first aid kits, defibrillators etc. In short, it is a health and safety assessment based on the needs of the players and supporting sports staff.

First aid in sport – Treating Injuries

First aid in sport can cover minor injuries, sprains, concussions to cardiac arrest and other possible life-threatening injuries. As a result, a coach must be ready to react to any such event and apply the correct treatment in a time measured approach.

Some treatments and injuries in sports first aid could include:

• Use of automated external defibrillators
• Communication with the casualty
• Internal and external bleeding
• Muscle and joint injuries
• Broken Bones
• Asthma attacks and seizures
• Head injuries and Concussion
• Chest Pains and Heart attacks
• Choking
• Bleeding
• Achilles injuries or cramp
• Burns
• Unconsciousness

Common sprains and other injuries such as strains and other muscle injuries can be treated with what is known as RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

If it is not clear whether an injury is a fracture or not, it should be treated as a fracture until an x-ray can confirm it and professionals have made a diagnosis.

As well as treating injuries a coach must be able to make a correct decision on whether a trainee can continue with the training in the occurrence of an injury.

A sports coach should also be able to use certain equipment such as defibrillators (AEDs) which are used for cardiac arrest and are now a standard part of equipment in sports and available in some public areas such as leisure centres.

The British Heart Foundation states that every year in the UK around 60,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, including sports environments.

For more information on the use of defibrillators, please have a look at our information on defibrillators and AEDs.

First aid for sport – Basic First Aid course

Our sports first aid training course is designed over the duration of a day to train coaches, managers, physical education teachers, fitness trainers, physiotherapists, osteopaths and match officials. It covers basic and advanced instructions on the correct response and treatment to any injuries or incidents that could occur in various sports sectors.

Any individual working in the field of sports would benefit from our first aid for sport course as it covers the basics for

• field sports (such as football, hockey, rugby)

• court sports (badminton, basketball, tennis, 5-a side) 

• track sports (running, long jump, javelin etc.) 

• The first aid for sport course is also relevant to those working in water sports including swimming pool attendants, swimming coaches and diving instructors.

The course will include:

• Role of the first aider

• Primary Survey

• Managing in the case of an emergency

• Responses to an incident

• Information to give to emergency services to help them prepare the best   possible treatment.

To view more, please visit our Sports First Aid Training Course page.

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