PCA and Coaching Corps work together to ensure high quality coaches are engaging with our youth, particularly those who have experience in social/emotional skill development and can work with youth to identify, target and help improve deficiencies. Below are 9 safety tips provided by PCA and Coaching Corps.
Ensuring your players' emotional and physical safety are the top priorities for a coach. Players should feel comfortable, cared for, and protected. These tips will help you keep them safe:
1. Use a formal sign-in and sign-out system
Check with your supervisor to learn how to keep record of youth attendance. Be diligent and track attendance every day. Know who attends each practice. Make sure all players safely return to the afterschool center or get picked up by an approved adult.
2. Have the proper equipment
Soccer players should wear shin guards, tackle football requires pads and a helmet. Not all program sites have the financial means to supply equipment. Check with your supervisor regarding minimum equipment requirements.
3. Establish travel/transportation rules
Establish travel rules for crossing roads and staying together as a group. If you have two coaches, one should lead at the front of the group and the other should be the last person.
4. Always take a head count
Know how many players you have on a particular day - especially when you are traveling or transitioning from one location to another.
5. Implement a buddy system
Make sure a player is never alone. Assigning buddies helps create a safe and welcoming space where no one is left out. Make sure youth travel in, at minimum, pairs when going to the bathroom or getting water. Incorporate inclusion and prevent cliques by forming the buddy pairs yourself.
6. Make sure you can see all youth
Always have a visual on all players and ensure they can also see you.
7. Be aware of physical contact rules, and beyond a high five, let player initiate
High 5's are a great way to connect with players. For other contact, like hugging - let the player initiate it.
8. Be intentional in your language
What you say and how you say it matters. Use inclusive language: use preferred names and preferred pronouns. Avoid using 'guys' when talking to co-ed and girls teams.
9. Be aware of your tone of voice.
Support players by using a calm and encouraging tone when helping them overcome skill-based or behavioral challenges. Aggressive tone of voice can trigger players and leave them less likely to participate and listen.