The thrill and adrenaline that comes with playing or seeing the team you coach play are almost always exhilarating! But what happens when despite all your best efforts to prevent it, you or your players still get injured?
Well, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the field coaching, in the stands rooting for your favorite team, or just watching from home- being injured sucks. Below is a list of 10 injury management essentials that every coach should have in their bag to help make an injury easier to manage.
From ice packs (for sprains) to bandages (for cuts), here’s how you can be prepared for anything!
- Athletic Tape
Athletic tape is a coach’s best friend. It can be used to help immobilize an injured joint, prevent or limit movement, or decrease pain from swelling and inflammation.
Due to its strength and the degree of risk to fractures that your players are always in, athletic tape is one of the things to always have in your coaches bag that can save your players from some preventable long-term injuries.
- Ice Pack
If there is one thing that coaches should never leave the athletic training room without, it’s an ice pack! Ice packs are essential for treating acute injuries (those that have just occurred). For example, if you do not put ice on an ankle sprain immediately following injury, then you risk increasing the swelling, which could lead to decreased range of motion and poor healing time.
- Elastic Bandage
An elastic bandage is a great addition to your health kit if you need to secure an ice bag in place or create a compression, support, or elevation device. Just make sure you get a reliable brand that will snap easily while you’re trying to use it.
Coaches are often the closest to athletes when injuries occur, and a whistle can be an easy way for them to alert other coaches and staff members of an emergency. It’s always good to have one on hand.
Of course, it’s still better to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Nonetheless, you can control everything, and there’s always the risk of mishaps in sports.
- Reversible EMS/Compression Pants
There are certain times during the season where athletes may experience muscle soreness in the lower half of their body, such as after conditioning workouts or throughout preseason training camps (especially if you’re working out some kinks in your new program.
For these cases, it is imperative that athletes get compression to help pump blood through their muscles while they recover so they can bounce back faster! Compression pants are also great to have for the excessively fatigued athlete, as they help increase blood flow to their brain and muscles.
- Back Board
In critical situations involving potential spinal injury, the backboard can be used to support an athlete’s spine during movement or transport to the hospital. Additionally, it may be beneficial for injured athletes who need to lay flat while under observation by medical personal in order to determine the status of injury severity.
- Triangular Bandages
Triangular bandages are incredibly versatile pieces of equipment that can be used for just about everything from slings to immobilize and decrease pain associated with an upper extremity injury, pressure wraps for lower extremities, and head stabilization devices etc.
- CPR Mask
A CPR mask is an essential item to have in the event that an athlete goes into cardiac arrest. Although it’s always best if a certified athletic trainer or EMT can perform CPR, having a mask on hand could buy you some extra time until they can make their way to your location.
- Blood Pressure Cuff
While being used as a preventative measure during practices/games, coaches can take a moment to check each athlete’s blood pressure before sending them back out onto the field of play. In addition, should an injury occur while the team is at practice, this type of equipment makes performing first aid much easier as it provides instant feedback when assessing heart rate/blood pressure status and offers another method for transporting athletes who have been seriously injured.
- Oropharyngeal Airways
If your athletic trainer is not available, a coach should know how to use an oropharyngeal airway in case of emergency. This device helps keep an athlete’s airway open during CPR and allows someone without medical training to assist while waiting for further assistance.
Anything can happen to any of your team members while playing on the field. As you prepare to win and be the best in your sport, it’s a good idea to make sure that you, as a coach, also prepare on how to prevent and manage unexpected injuries.
If injuries should happen, hopefully, they will find you with at least some equipment to help you tentatively manage the pain and the damage while you wait for medical professionals to attend to your players. Sometimes, how the first few minutes after an injury are handled will determine whether or not a player will be able to get back in the field soon or ever. This is a responsibility you ought to adequately prepare for!
By Henry Waters, a sports medicine specialist with over 15 years of experience. He has worked with athletes to help them recover after training sessions. To share his knowledge, he conducts training on injury management and gives webinars on how to safely keep your body in shape. In his free time, he likes to play golf and go hiking.