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Risk Management Tips for Youth Sports Organizations

Good risk management is a fundamental responsibility of all youth sports organizations (YSO). Risk management has a lot of moving parts, so it requires careful analysis, perseverance and proactive thinking. Good risk management, however, is not brain surgery, but rather requires what has been described as “organized common sense.” Not spending the proper time on risk management can lead to catastrophic results – “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Boards of Directors and senior managers must take the lead in developing these “good governance” policies.

Child protection and development programs are at the heart of successful risk management plans. Providing a safe, nurturing learning environment should be the primary objective of YSOs, and this can be accomplished through a comprehensive instruction program for coaches that includes the following:

  • Nationwide criminal background checks
  • Thorough interview process
  • First-aid, concussion, and emergency action plan training (medical history forms, emergency contact forms, accident report forms, first-aid kit, severe weather and lightning policies, etc.)
  • Education on how to create a positive and productive experience for players and parents (sportsmanship, character development, codes of conduct, etc.)
  • Fundamentals of specific sports (skills, drills, age-appropriate practice and game strategies, etc.)

YSO risk management administrative policies include:

  • waivers, releases and consent forms
  • Insurance (liability, D & O, sports accident, etc.)
  • equipment and facilities checklists
  • behavioral expectations of coaches, athletes and parents (including consequences for misbehavior; signed codes of conduct)
  • inappropriate behavior prohibitions (alcohol, drugs, steroids & supplements; hazing, bullying & harassment; physical, emotional and sexual abuse; violence and offensive language; transportation and travel regulations, etc.)
  • guidelines for keeping athletes and teams in equitable and fair competitions
  • record-keeping requirements

Life is filled with risks, and youth sports present special challenges concerning the health and well-being of young athletes. It is important that YSO leaders emphasize that the safety and development of the children in the program is their organization’s top priority and the risk management program must reflect that common goal.

All of the above risk management tools are crucial in providing a safe, positive and productive experience for everyone involved in a youth sports organization: players, coaches, parents and board members. With these important tools comes the additional burden and time placed on the organization and individuals responsible for fulfilling those responsibilities. The necessity to track and manage background checks, first-aid training, concussion instruction and coaching education can be overwhelming for the volunteer board members or club/team managers.

The Minnesota Youth Athletic Services is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit with over 25 years of history administering youth sports and has developed a solution to manage all of these practices on one online platform. The Trusted Coaches program is a comprehensive membership program that offers essential training, education and screening necessary for a youth coach via a 

  1. Nationwide Criminal Background Check
  2. First-Aid Training
  3. Concussion Instruction
  4. PCA Double-Goal Coach® character education course.

The Trusted Coaches program is delivered exclusively online and provides the opportunity for a coach to complete the program in the comfort of their own home.

Trusted Coaches also minimizes the time and burden placed on YSO board or club directors because it has developed Administrative Tools (including a convenient dashboard) that allow youth sports leaders to effortlessly monitor and manage their coaches’ training and development. These administrative tools eliminate the hassle and time of collecting and maintaining any and all coach screening, training and educational paperwork and completion certificates.

The benefits of this program include:

  • powerful techniques presented by leading coaches and sports psychologists
  • necessary training, which minimizes the threat of harm or injury to young athletes
  • a “one-stop shop” for youth organizations to deliver best practices training to their coaches
  • a turnkey administrative system with an online repository that keeps track of coaches’ certifications and renewal dates

The cost of this program ranges from $25.00 to $35.00 per coach depending upon volume. It is an extremely cost-effective program that promotes full participation for coaches, minimizes the risk for the organization and creates safer, better youth sports.

Equipping coaches with the training they need, providing administrators the tools they need to manage their coaches, and giving parents peace of mind are all prerequisites of a successful risk management plan.

For more Trusted Coaches information, please log on to www.trustedcoaches.org. If you would like additional information regarding the Trusted Coaches program, do not hesitate to contact Dawson Blanck (TC Executive Director) at dawson@trustedcoaches.org or 763-746-1719.