First Aid How-to Basics for Youth Sports Coaches

As the coach of a youth sports team, you are responsible for the safety and well being of your players. And while you may take every precaution possible to protect your players from harm, accidents are bound to happen, especially in full-contact sports like hockey and football. Accidents can happen anywhere: sprained ankles on the soccer field, scrapped up shins sliding into home, jammed fingers from a bad basketball pass—a good coach has to know the basics of first aid to help their players no matter what happens.

Here are 3 first aid basics every coach should know:

How to stop a nosebleed:

More than one youth athlete in the history of youth sports wasn’t prepared for a throw and has caught a ball with their face, resulting in a nose bleed. If you find yourself dealing with a nosebleed, it’s important that you don’t panic! Have your player sit upright (never lean back!) and pinch the soft spot of their nose (below the bridge) for five minutes to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped after five minutes, have your player re-pinch their nose for another ten. It’s important they keep pressure for the full 5-10 minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped. An ice pack can constrict the blood vessels in the nose and help stop the bleeding as well. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped after the 2nd or 3rd try, or your player is starting to feel dizzy or weak, call 911.

How to treat a sprained ankle:

Sprained ankles are a fact of life in sports at every level, youth sports included. If one of your players twists their ankle during a practice or game, the first thing you want to do is get them off of their feet and get ice on it as soon as possible to minimize the swelling. Don’t ice it for much longer than 10-15 minutes as time in order to prevent tissue damage from the cold. Once you’re done icing, wrap the athlete’s ankle with a compressive sports bandage to provide support and help minimize the swelling. Depending on how severe the sprain is, your player might need to keep off their feet for a few days. It’s important they elevate their ankle as often as possible during the first 48 hours.

How to treat dehydration:

Keeping your athletes properly hydrated should be a number one priority for youth coaches. There are plenty of horror stories about coaches withholding water breaks from their athletes and the devastating effects of dehydration. But coaches can’t make their players drink enough water, even if they are providing adequate water breaks. If you suspect a player is suffering from dehydration it’s important that you get fluids into them immediately! Steer clear of sugary drinks like soda or juice boxes and give your players plenty of water or replacement fluids that contain electrolytes like Gatorade and Pedialyte.