Health & Safety Checklist for Football Coaches
To try to prevent injuries from happening, football coaches are tasked with learning a rigorous list of health and safety regulations. Here’s a quick guide
Professional athletes, while masters of their respective sports, seem to perennially suffer from some kind of injury. If it’s not their knee, it’s their ankle. If it’s not their shoulder, it’s their elbow. The truth is that all of us, no matter how talented or experienced, are all susceptible to injury. Unfortunately for football coaches, if an injury is to take place under their guardianship, the blame for the ailment tends to rest firmly on their shoulders. To try to prevent injuries from happening in the first place, football coaches are tasked with learning a rigorous list of health and safety regulations. And to make this learning process as painless as possible, we have assembled this convenient guide to cover the fundamentals.
The importance of the warm-up cannot be overstated. A well-structured warm-up should consist of two portions – light exercise to raise blood flow and stretching to pre-emptively ward off two of the most common injuries – sprains and strains. A sprain occurs when a ligament is overstretched and a strain (which you might know as a pulled muscle) occurs when the fibres in the muscle stretch too far.
The benefits of warming up are many, but the most important are: increased heart rate and increased blood flow to the muscles (which allows oxygen to reach the muscles more quickly and in greater quantities) and increased production of synovial fluid between joints (which reduces friction and reduces the risk of strains and sprains). An effective warm-up can be something as simple as a light jog and a few jumping jacks, as long as it works the muscles that will be active in the exercise to follow.
While there are disagreements over the effectiveness of stretching as a preventative measure for injury, it remains a stalwart of the professional footballers pre-match routine. Gently putting the muscle through its full range of motion can prepare the muscle for more strenuous use whilst increasing flexibility.
An injury from overuse is the culmination of placing a certain part of the body under repeated stress when it isn’t built to weather such a storm. There are several stages to an overuse injury, and identifying the issue before it evolves into something much worse is imperative. Generally speaking, the affected area will initially only be sore after exercise, and then during exercise, and then even when the affected area is at rest. To prevent this, simply rest the affected area.
As you can probably guess, warming down is the inverse of warming up. Whilst warming up involves gradually increasing the strain on the body, warming down involves gradually decreasing the strain on the body. Warming down, where exercise is continuous, but slows from a light jog to a walk, allows the heart rate to slowly return to its resting rate, and is noted to reduce risk of injury.
Treating an injury
In spite of the fact that some injuries are absolutely preventable, there are others that no amount of preparation can spare us from. Because of this, it is important not to neglect the art of actually dealing with an injury when you are inevitably faced with one. Sports first aid courses are the ideal way to shore up any gaps in your knowledge – after all, an immediate response can prevent aggravating an injury further. In the meantime, the PRICE injury protocol is a good place to start -Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation – it’s as simple as that.
With this succinct guide, you should hopefully have a greater awareness of the basics of health and safety and feel more confident heading into your next coaching session.