Coaching confession: I wasn't prepared

7/22/2014

youth sports safety cpr training
Photo Credit: Curtis Gregory Perry via Compfight cc
Are you rolling the dice on safety in youth sports?


I've got a confession to make: I probably shouldn't have been allowed to coach a youth soccer team a few years ago.

I'll tell you why.

After enrolling my girlfriend's son in a local program we showed up the first night to discover that the team didn't have a coach. And since none of the dads of the kids on the team were willing to step forward to coach, I did.

But – as sad as it is to admit now – I knew absolutely nothing about how to perform CPR.

And I never realized what a gamble I was taking – and the dangerous position I was putting my players in – until a few weeks ago when I was interviewing Miami Heat trainer Jay Sabol for our upcoming new Coaching Youth Sports training video.

As we were covering a variety of safety-related topics during our hour long conversation he told me: "You should have first aid knowledge. You should be certified in CPR and you should be certified in first aid. If you are not certified in either one of those things then you have no business having an activity because if any of your athletes get hurt or have a life threatening situation or a situation which can cause further damage to them then you've got to have someone there who knows what to do."

His words hit hard and as I reflected back on my season with those 7- and 8-year-olds it scared me.

We practiced twice a week for two months at a corner field with no other teams around, hundreds of yards away from the league office building.

If one of my players would have collapsed, besides calling 9-1-1 I would have been completely helpless.

Could any of my players' parents who stuck around to watch practices have been certified in CPR? Sure, that's a possibility.

But I don't know if they were – I never asked.

The night before practices I'd plan out all my drills and how long I was going to run each one. I'd even jot down a couple back-ups just in case any of the drills turned out to be duds and I needed a quick replacement.

But when it came to the kids' safety, clearly I wasn't prepared.

Thankfully there were no emergencies that season. I was very lucky – and so were my players.

I'm glad CPR training is something our organization strongly recommends for all coaches. It's simply the right thing to do.

If I ever decide to step on the sidelines again I'll be taking a CPR course before doing so. Kids deserve to play for coaches that can care for their safety if an emergency happens that requires immediate attention.

I failed back then, but it’ll never happen again.

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