Legal Responsibilities of the Coach

Coaches must have at least ten important duties when carrying out their activities.

The following is a must list based on the legal responsibilities of the coach suggested by Nygaard (1981).

1. Provide a safe environment.
Facilities and equipment must be safe for both the users and the others involved in the competition. Adverse weather conditions must also be taken into consideration during competition and practice sessions.

2. Activities must be adequately planned.
Impaired learning ability and injury may be the result of unplanned practice sessions. Using appropriate progressions in the teaching of new skills, especially potentially dangerous skills, is imperative.

3. Athletes must be evaluated for injury and incapacity.
Athletes with an injury or incapacity should not be expected to perform any potentially harmful activity. No athletes should ever be forced to take part in any activity that they do not wish to take part in. Individual differences must be also considered.

4. Young athletes should not be mismatched.
Young athletes should be matched not only according to age, but also height, weight and maturity. Skill levels and experience should also be considered.

5.Safe and proper equipment should be provided.
Existing codes and standards for equipment should be met and all equipment should be kept in good order. It should always be adequately repaired so that it is safe to use at all times.

6. Athletes must be warned of the inherent risks of the sport.
The inherent risks of any sport can only be legally accepted by the participants if they know, understand and appreciate those risks. In some situation, even such warning may not be enough: for example, where young people are involved in a school supervised activity.

7. Activities must be closely supervised.
Adequate supervision is necessary to ensure the practice environment is as safe as possible. Each sport will have its own specific requirements in this regard.

8. Coaches should know first aid.
Coaches should have a knowledge of basic emergency procedures and keep up to date on them. Coaches should know TOTAPS ( Talk, Observe, Touch, Active Movement, Passive Movement, Stand) and RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) procedures for managing injuries. Coaches should ensure that appropriate medical assistance is available and at the very least should ensure that nothing is done which could aggravate any injury.

9. Develop clear, written rules for training and general conduct.

10. Coaches should keep adequate records.
Adequate records are useful aids to planning and are essential in all cases of injury. Record cards should be kept on all athletes including relevant general and medical information and progress reports. Accident reports (not diagnoses) should be made as soon as possible after each injury that occurs.
While not exhaustive steps, carrying out the above will substantially reduce the chances of a successful claim of negligence against the coach.
In some areas such as the provision or supervision of first aid or other injury management procedures, the careful parent test may be applied; that is, the way the coach would act in the same situation with his / her own child.

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