Tips for Coaches

A bit of advice

We want our coaches to be fully equipped with all the knowledge they need to perform to the best of their ability. Here are some tips and tools to help in certain situations. 

Lightning
The current law states that if thunder or lightning is in the area of a game, it’s on hold until 30 minutes after the last lighting strike or thunder clap. Reason being? The lightening may be above cloud level and not visible. Remember: The source of the thunder is the energy release from the lightning strike. So, where there’s thunder, there’s lightening. Please keep this in mind. 

Aniscoria
What’s aniscoria and why is it important to have it noted on an athlete’s pre-participation physical form? Aniscoria is a congenital unequal pupil size, which occurs in about 20% of the population. From a sports medicine standpoint, it’s essential to know this is a classic head injury sign. So having this marked on the physical form gives the information you need to help determine the reason for unequal pupil size.

All about ice
Ice is applied post-injury and is used to control swelling and pain. The first 20 minutes with ice on constricts the blood vessels in the area, but any longer and the blood vessels begin to dilate. The proper application of ice is 20 minutes on and 20–40 minutes off.

When applying ice, be aware of the places on the body where major nerves are closest to the surface:

  • Top front of the thigh
  • Palm side of the wrist
  • Outside of the arm, just below the shoulder
  • Outside the calf, just below the knee

Ice should never be applied directly to the skin — doing so may result in nerve damage, so please follow these tips!

Ankle fractures
There are a number of ankle fractures, which could seem like an ankle sprain — especially for young athletes. Look for these signs to determine if an athlete has an ankle injury:

  • He or she cannot take four normal steps after the injury
  • He or she has bone tenderness on the edge of the “knobs” on the inside and outside of the ankle
  • He or she has bone tenderness on the outside of the of the foot 

Shin Splints
This is a common, catchall diagnosis that is often given without proper assessment. Stress fractures, pronation, one leg longer than the other, improper shoe wear, over training or inadequate hip strength could all be a result of shin pain. A full assessment must occur in order to determine which variables are contributing to the pain.

Knee braces for athletes
Knee braces are expensive and restrictive, and there’s no solid evidence that they reduce the number and severity of knee injuries. 

There are a few studies which have suggested but not proven offensive and defensive lineman may benefit from preventative knee bracing. So we suggest that: 

  • Any position outside of offensive or defensive linemen do not use knee braces  
  • If you are an offensive or a defensive lineman, know that the evidence says, they MAY benefit — it’s up to the family or the athletic department to weigh the financial costs vs. the potential benefits

Concussions
It was previously thought that only multiple concussions after many years can change the brain structure and function and develop a protein in the brain. However, recent investigations now show the presence of this protein can occur in athletes as young as 17 years old. So, it’s extremely important to follow the appropriate post-concussive management strategies.

For baseball coaches
If a player is complaining of shoulder pain during or after throwing, take look at the height of his or her shoulder on the throwing side. If this shoulder is lower in the standing position, it’s an indicator there may be poor muscle control of the muscles in the shoulder blade. Please evaluate and keep a close eye on these conditions — if left untreated, it could result in permanent damage.

Always include the hip and core muscles
Studies show that by limiting treatment to the injured area only, there is a high risk for re-injury. For example, if an athlete injures an ankle it could also affect the balance and strength centered in the hip, core and central nervous system. So, the assurance for the most complete recovery and decreasing the chance of re-injury begins with proper assessment of the injury site, followed by a treatment plan developed by an expert.

Getting prepared for the alpha test
Athletes should be given the following set of instructions to increase the chances of a successful testing session:

  • Don’t perform vigorous activity on the evening before and the day of the testing
  • Don’t drink caffeinated beverages on the day before and day of the testing
  • Don’t eat two hours prior to testiing
  • Don’t take any vitamin or mineral supplements two days before and the day of testing
  • Do drink 500ml (17 oz.) of fluid (like a sports drink) on the day of testing
  • Do drink 2–4 cups of water in 1–2-hour period right before the test
  • Do be awake three hours prior to testing
  • Do complete an Individual Profile Form prior to arrival
  • Do report in weigh-in attire only if you’re a wrestler
  • Do dress in shorts if you’re a male and shorts and a sports bra if you’re a female