An Alabama law, named the Coach Safety Act, will require unpaid or volunteer coaches or trainers associated with youth athletics to complete five training requirements on an annual basis.
The law specifically applies to youth athletics for children under 14 who practice or play on public property. The training required of coaches and training is aimed at preventing unnecessary injuries to children involved in sports, according to a news release from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Four million youth sports injuries occur each year in the United States. With nearly 60,000 coaches of recreational sports in Alabama, it is important to train and educate all coaches, including volunteers, about the warning signs of youth sports injury, the health department reported.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of youth sports injuries are preventable.
The Coach Safety Act, Alabama Act 2018-0496, will enable coaches and trainers to better respond to and prevent serious injury in children and youth.
The law applies to athletic coaches and trainers statewide for football, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, cheerleading, ice hockey and field hockey, lacrosse and other sports considered high risk of a child or youth sustaining a serious injury.
“It is up to each youth league to decide which set of courses they want their coaches to take to fulfill each of the five required subject areas,” Betsy Cagle of the Injury Prevention Branch, Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), said. “Our website has links to free training options that youth leagues can use to meet those requirements, but leagues can decide how to train their coaches at their own discretion as long as they cover all five subject areas.”
Coaches must receive training on all of the following areas each year:
1) Emergency preparedness, planning and rehearsal for traumatic injuries.
2) Concussions and head trauma.
3) Heat and extreme weather-related injury familiarization.
4) Physical conditioning and training equipment usage.
5) Heart defects and abnormalities that can lead to sudden cardiac death.
An exemption to the course requirements is available to health care professionals with acute life support training. Youth leagues must maintain records of course completion by individual coaches/trainers. ADPH houses a database of information submitted by the sports organizations.
To review the resources and for more information, go to alabamapublichealth.gov/injuryprevention/youth-athletics.html.