July 24, 2015 - TCO
6 Questions Every Coach Should Be Able To Answer
Great coaches exist at all levels of competition. What makes them exceptional is their ability to inspire, teach, and challenge their players, while simultaneously managing the day-to-day chaos of the season. You know remarkable coaches when you meet them. Their players love them, they get along with parents, and they are respected by the community.
At Twin Cities Orthopedics, many of our doctors and staff members are coaches, and as an organization we partner with dozens of Minnesota youth sports teams and leagues every year. One thing we’ve discovered is that every coach has the potential to be great. That’s right. Regardless of previous experience or level of competition, every single coach has the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and become a better teacher, communicator, manager, and leader.
Below are questions we think every coach should be able to answer.
1. On the first day of practice, which of these tasks is LEAST important?
1. Outlining clear roles for coaches, parents, and players
2. Defining and sharing season goals, values, and expected behaviors and procedures
3. Opening communication by gathering email addresses and phone numbers, sharing meeting schedules
4. Identifying the highest skilled players and weakest players
This should have been an easy one. The least important task is D. The most important goal for the first day of practice is to get organized for the season, making sure that everyone involved (coaches, parents, players, etc.) is on the same page. There will be plenty of time to jump into skills development and strategy as the season continues, so utilize the first day of practice as an opportunity to make introductions, gather information, share schedules (which should be prepared ahead of time!), and clearly define roles and goals for the season.
Organized teams have more fun, and organized coaches tend to encounter the fewest issues!
2. In case of emergency, what is your Emergency Action Plan?
Does your team have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)? If not, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Luckily, there are many great resources available to help build an EAP. Find development tips on the NAYS.org website.
Even though the initial development of an EAP may be time-intensive, it can ultimately save someone’s life. Ask your league coordinators and other coaches if an EAP has already been developed. If so, that’s great, but double-check that the information is current.
We hope you’ll add your nearest Twin Cities Orthopedics Orthopedic Urgent Care location to the EAP, in the event of sprains, strains, broken bones, muscle tears, and other musculoskeletal injuries, so your players can be treated immediately by a specialist.
3. What should you do if a player collapses on the field during practice?
We hope you never encounter a situation like this, but in the case of a player collapsing on the field during practice or when medical personnel are not on-site, here’s what you should do:
First, call 911 and follow your Emergency Action Plan.
Second, perform CPR, if appropriate, and only if you are certified.
Let us be clear that saving the life of a young athlete should not be a coach’s responsibility or liability. However, coaches have a unique opportunity to be prepared in case of a crisis situation. They have access to many resources for training and certifications, which may ultimately be the difference between life and death. We strongly recommend coaches be trained in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and automated external defibrillator (AED) use, so that in the event of an emergency they can provide treatment until a medical professional arrives. Many coaches are never faced with a situation like this, but it can happen, so why not be prepared?
There are many resources available to coaches (and other adults) in Minnesota. Ask your league if there is funding available for you to complete certification at no cost:
Save A Life MN – CPR/AED – price N/A
4. What should you do if you suspect a player has a broken bone?
Which of these should you do if your player breaks a bone?
1. Take them immediately to an Emergency Room.
2. Take them immediately to an orthopedic specialist.
3. Ice the wound, wait until the swelling has subsided, then visit a specialist.
4. Pop it as close to “back in place” as you can, temporarily bandage it, then make a doctor’s appointment.
This one may surprise you, but the answer is B. Unless the bone has broken through the skin, or there is excessive bleeding, the best place to immediately treat the injury is an orthopedic clinic. There is a common misconception that all broken bones should immediately treated at an emergency room, but that is usually incorrect. Usually patients at emergency rooms have to wait a long time to be treated, they rack up huge hospital bills, and then are ultimately referred to an orthopedic specialist anyway.
Starting with a specialist who is specially trained to deal with broken bones, not viruses and diseases, means the injury is treated correctly from the beginning. Plus, Orthopedic Urgent Care is usually significantly less expensive than an ER trip.
5. What should you do if a parent is out of control?
1. Ignore them, and show that you are in full control.
2. Don’t back down to aggressive parents. Fight back, then kick them out if they don’t agree with you.
3. Aggressive parents should be listened to. Fighting back isn’t worth it, so just give in.
4. Listen to their concerns, acknowledge you understand them, then calmly explain (and stand by) your decisions.
One of the most frustrating elements of coaching is dealing with troublesome parents. If you chose answer D, then you are correct – and wise! The worst thing a coach can do when dealing with frustrated, angry, or out of control parents and fans is to get into an adrenaline-fueled altercation. These types of situations can quickly escalate from verbal to physical, leaving people feeling threatened. We’ve all heard the horror stories.
The truth is, people are generally reasonable, and just want to feel respected. Give them a chance to voice their side of an argument, and explain themselves. If conflict still exists even after trying to solve the problem respectfully, the best solution may be to physically step away from the situation, and deal with it once everyone has calmed down.
Remember the first question regarding the first day of practice? Opening clear lines of communication with parents from the beginning can prevent this situation altogether. Find more helpful tips for working with difficult parents at StopSportsInjuries.org.
6. Are you a great coach?
Don’t be afraid to take some time for honest self-reflection. Do you believe you’re doing everything you can to be a better teacher, mentor, and life coach? Are you helping your players have the best experience possible? Are you prepared in the event of crisis situations?
Regardless of your answer, the wonderful news is that every coach has the opportunity to be great. Coaching is a journey, and the learning never stops. If you’re a current coach, just know that the community supports you. Your role is incredibly important, but not always given the credit it deserves. Thank you for all of your hard work, and keep it up!
For parents, fans, teachers, and players, please feel free to share this article with your coaches, fellow parents and fans, and anyone who is thinking about becoming a coach. Sports are community activities, and it takes the whole group to make the experience enjoyable. Let’s inspire everyone to play a positive role, and together we can make sports more fun, and a better experience, for all.