Archive for the ‘Coaching’ Category

Boundary Dispute Fells Little League Champs

When adults cheat, it’s the kids who pay

Fraud and cheating occur too frequently in government, business, education, mediaand, sadly, even youth sports organizations.

Little League stripped the Jackie Robinson West team of its U.S. championship and suspended its coach for violating the league’s team boundary rule. In what can only be called a team-building effort, team officials altered a league map that determines the areas from which players can be recruited.

In addition to the team being relieved of its international tournament wins, the team manager was suspended the administrator of Illinois District 4 was removed. But it was the players, who were unaware of the team’s manipulation, who paid the highest price. Mountain Ridge Little League was awarded the championship.

It was an agonizing decision but critical in upholding the integrity of Little League, according to Stephen Keener, Little League International president and CEO.

Over the past 10 years, a number of Sadler Sports Insurance sports league clients were sued over boundary disputes involving the eligibility of a particular player (usually a superstar). Disqualification of an ineligible player by a sanctioning body prior to a tournament can result in a legal challenge for injunctive relief asking to halt the tournament until the judge can rule on eligibility. Due to the legal expenses and inconvenience involved, it is recommended that sanctioning bodies have tight boundary rules that are not subject to alternate interpretations. And, of course, they must always follow their own rules when making a decision.

Source: Tom Farrey, “Little League punishes Chicago team,” 11 Feb. 2015.

Coach Abuse in Youth Sports

It’s much broader than just sex abuse/molestation

Sex abuse and molestation by coaches tends to get the most attention in the media and cause a lot of outrage, but there are many other forms of coach abuse. Sports administrators and parents can protect youth by being aware of physical,, emotional, and/or verbal abuse, neglect, bullying, harassment, and hazing or initiation rituals. Such behaviors have resulted in many lawsuits against coaches and administrators.

A quality risk management plan that deal with sex abuse and molestation will also incorporate these other types of abuse. We offer many articles on abuse in youth sports, which we encourage you to read. Click on the link below for an excellent article that provides a full definition and examples of each of these types of abuse.

Source: “What Every Parent Should Know About Athlete Abuse: What Parents Can Do To Help Prevent Abuse,”

Medical Emergencies in Youth Sports

CPR and first aid training for coaches is critical

Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance has always been a strong advocate of youth sports coaches and volunteers receiving first aid and emergency training. Injuries and medical emergencies can occur anywhere, at anytime to anyone, especially in a sporting environment. Coaches and other adults in attendance during practices and play have to be able to respond in such cases. Unfortunately, only 40 percent of youth coaches have any safety training, according to a 2012 SafeKids Worldwide survey.

There’s really no excuse for such lack of training because certification classes in first aid and CPR are offered in every community for free or very little cost. It’s the responsibility of the sports organization and local community to ensure that coaches and volunteers have access to the training needed to respond appropriately to an injury or life-threatening event.

Empowering your volunteers

In particular, the education of volunteers in safety procedures strengthens the sports program. Volunteers offer their time and energy in so many capacities. They should be given the tools they need to be an even greater help, which means safety training or recertification at no cost to them. And it’s important to remember that coaches and volunteers serve as safety role models for the youth with whom they’re working. Older athletes should be encouraged to register for CPR and first aid certification courses, as well.

No matter what sport you’re involved with, the unexpected can occur. Here are a few examples of emergency situations where immediate administration of first-aid made all the difference to the injured person.

  • An Alabama high school football player collapsed during the first practice of the season. Coaches and the athletic trainer sprang into action, quickly determining a case of cardiac arrest after seeing no signs of concussion, heat stroke or dehydration. The trainer used the school’s AED while waiting for EMTs to arrive on the scene. The teen survived, thanks to the safety training his coaches had received.
  • An Oregon varsity high school basketball game was unexpectedly interrupted when an official collapsed on the court. Quick thinking staff, students and medical professionals in the stands rushed to his aid, administering CPR until an ambulance arrived.
  • An 8-year-old youth baseball player collapsed after being hit in the chest by a batted ball. It was his good fortune that two off-duty paramedics who were in the stands were able to administer CPR until paramedics arrived and transported him to the hospital.

You can’t count on there being someone nearby who will know what to do in a medical emergency. Whether the injured person is one of the athletes, a trainer, an official or a fan in the stands, the coaches are who people will look to for help in an emergency.

Getting the necessary training

The American Red Cross offers CPR/AED training as well as specific first aid, health and safety training for sports coaches. Because CPR techniques and use of AEDs on children and adults differ, it’s important that coaches receive training for medical assistance for both age groups

The National Alliance for Youth Sports encourages all volunteer coaches get CPR training. Their website offers member coaches access to a first aid and CPR section full of safety information, including how to develop an emergency action plan. NAYS also offers free concussion training for coaches and volunteers.

Coach Certification Liability Insurance

Several of the coach certification training organizations offer General Liability insurance as a membership benefit to the coaches. This is a great benefit that is designed to act as a safety net in the event that the sports organization neglects to provide its own insurance or if its insurance contains unacceptable exclusions.

Some sports organizations that require all of their coaches to be certified mistakenly interpret this membership benefit as a green light to forgo purchasing their own General Liability insurance. This is a dangerous mistake. Individual coach certification General Liability insurance will not provide protection under the following circumstances:

  •  It won’t cover the sports organization as an entity. As a result, the assets of the entity are unprotected if a lawsuit results in legal defense costs, settlement, or an adverse jury verdict. This can be catastrophic; even small sports organizations can have many thousands of dollars of asset value in their bank accounts, equipment, real estate, etc.
  • It won’t allow for the issuance of a certificate of insurance under the name of the sports organization, which may be a property owner’s requirement for field or facility access.
  • When a youth participant is injured, it is customary for all adult volunteers in close proximity to the injury to be shotgunned into the lawsuit based on negligent supervision. This includes the head coach, assistant coach, manager, umpire, referee, team mother, etc. In addition, the organization’s board members and officers will normally be included based on lack of general supervision. It’s likely that not all these volunteers are certified coaches and therefore won’t be protected.
  • Most coach certification liability policies only cover lawsuits arising out of direct coaching activities. However, many lawsuits in the youth sports context arise out of non-sport activities and outings such as swimming parties, restaurant celebrations, backyard cookouts, banquets, fundraisers, etc.

The bottom line is that all sports organizations need their own General Liability policy. If you have questions, or want assistance in determining your insurance needs, please call us at (800) 622-7370.


Copyright 2002-2014, Sadler & Company, Inc.


Review: TackleSure Coach Training Program Endorsed by AYF

Why is a change in tackling techniques necessary now?

Heightened awareness on the dangers of concussions and long term brain injury from sub concussive impacts has brought to the forefront the need to change the culture of youth tackle football to protect the future of the sport by addressing injury, liability, and insurance concerns. Traditional risk management techniques of concussion education, recognition, removal, treatment, and return-to-play protocols don’t address the risk of an accumulation of sub concussive impacts over multiple seasons. Therefore, programs like TaTackle SureckleSure have emerged to remove the head from tackling and to introduce tackling drills that don’t require pads and can be executed with limited contact. I strongly recommend the TackleSure program as a part of a comprehensive concussion/brain injury risk management program for youth tackle football.

 Description of TackleSure online training course

TackleSure, an official licensed partner of NFL Players, is an online course that consists of 11 class segments which are followed by an online multiple choice test. After registering and paying the reduced $5.00 course fee for AYF members, registrants view videos with instruction by Thurmond Moore (college and NFL defensive coach) and Jared Allen (All-Pro defensive end) where they define the problem, introduce the correct tackling technique and terminology, introduce drills to reinforce each aspect of the technique, and demonstrate the step-by-step coaching process in the field on inexperienced youth players. In addition, segments include concussion education and introduce the new Reebok Check Light Skull Cap product. Most will not complete the course in a single sitting, but it’is easy to log back in and start the next segment. The course includes a 100-page PDF document that is a great reference tool for coaches as it explains and illustrates all drills.

 Why I reviewed the course

 As a leader in sports insurance and risk management for youth tackle football, I decided to take the TackleSure course to gain a

Tackle Sure test results

Screenshot of my final test score.

better education and to experience what my clients would experience. After all, how could I recommend a course without having experienced it myself? I do need to add the disclaimer that I never played organized football and have never coached it.

TackleSure Certificate

Screenshot of my TackleSure certificate of completion.

My son did play as a 7th grader, so I have observed a number of youth practices and games. Therefore, my observations on TackleSure are from the perspective of a neophyte but that may not be too far off as many coaches are dads who have unexpectedly found themselves in a coaching position.

 What is wrong with the traditional tackling technique?

The traditional tackling technique of putting the head to side and wrapping up the ball carrier with the arms tends to result in reaching, a bending forward at the waist, and all too often leading with the head.  The hammer metaphor of being a hammer (knees bent – power angle – back straight) as opposed to being a nail (bend at the waist) has also been used to describe the correct tackling technique. Unfortunately, the traditional tackling technique is usually taught and practiced at full contact, which results in a greater probability of head contact, more sub concussive impacts, and a greater chance of concussions.

 Safety at the sacrifice of effectiveness?

 The main objective of TackleSure is to get the head out of the tackle. Does this mean that the safer tackling technique is less effective? Not according to the experts. The TackleSure technique actually brings more force to the tackle due to the explosion of the hips, the throwing of the uppercuts, and the double-time leg drive. The traditional tackling technique of leaning forward from the waist and wrapping up does not have the same explosiveness because the lower body and core are not engaged and the wrapping of the arms to the side results in a misdirection of potential upper body force away from the ball carrier.

 The major components of the TackleSure technique

 TackleSure can be introduced to a team in three days and fully implemented in two weeks. In addition, the drills are designed for no pads and lessened contact so that they can be repeatedly practiced and reinforced to build muscle memory. The techniques are taught from simple to complex, from the end of the tackle forward, from teaching pace to full speed pace, and from left foot forward and right foot forward.

  • Clamp progression eliminates the head as a weapon and teaches the basics of tackling technique from finish stance (lower body positioning and engagement of hips forward), one legged take off, belly button/hips through, chest pop, clamp and claw (upper body engagement of getting head out of tackle by looking up at high hands and tying up ball carrier between elbows with hands grabbing cloth on back of ball carrier’s jersey), and machine gunning legs to provide power to finish off tackle.
  • Chest pop progression adds refinements to promote power in tackle with continued emphasis on removing the head. Starts with flat back stance and elbows back with guns in holsters, one legged take off, explode hips into ball carrier, shoot strong double upper cuts, make contact with chest, lift and tie up ball carrier, kick opposite leg high and wide, and double time high and wide with legs.
  • Shimmy progression adds open field positioning and footwork transitioning toward ball carrier includes sprinting, shimmy stance, break step, and fit position.
  • Nearfoot progression adds the element of aiming near foot at ball carrier.
  • Specialty tackles: – lawnmower, tomahawk, and gator.

 What you need to know before you take the course

The course is thorough, but it needs to be in order to explain, reinforce, and illustrate the techniques and drills to the coaches. The last two course segments are repeats of earlier segments, but they are critical to see what is likely to happen when these concepts are introduced to inexperienced youth players and the corrections that need to be made in the field. All 11 segments take approximately 4.5 hours. to complete. However, not all segments are necessary viewing to pass the test. Also, remember that TackleSure does not require on-field instruction because the videos are so thorough and well-illustrated.

The major competing tackle course takes about 20 minutes online plus an on-the-field training clinic. The online portion doesn’t come close to approaching the thoroughness and effectiveness of the TackleSure program in terms of either safety or improved tackling. In addition, the on-field training clinic comes with the related hassles of travel, scheduling, and make ups.

Be sure to take notes as you watch the TackleSure videos so you can reference them during the exam. The exam is not a cakewalk.

TackleSure is just a part of a comprehensive concussion/brain injury risk management program. In addition, a basic concussion course should be required such as the CDC’s Heads Up or NAYS Concussion Awareness and all organizations should have written policies and procedures to address recognition, removal, treatment, and return-to-play protocol.


Overall, I give the TackleSure training a very high rating and believe that I would be able to teach the correct technique if I were to become a youth football coach. It’s important for the instruction be geared to first-time coaches. I also applaud their decision to offer the entire training program online as opposed to in-person coach clinics. We all know that with volunteer organizations, it is virtually impossible to coordinate live training for all coaches at the same time due to scheduling conflicts and the addition of new coaches later in the season.

Click here to access the TackleSure program.

For more information on a comprehensive football/cheer brain injury risk management program, visit the concussion section of our Risk Management page.

Click here for more information on AYF/AYC Insurance.


Hotel Safety: Teams Traveling Overnight (Infographic)

Protecting athletes and staff from sex abuse/molestation incidents

 All parents have the expectation that youth sports organizations provide a safe and fun environment for the athletes. Any organization that supervises kids has a clear mandate to incorporate policies to prevent injuries of any kind. Child abuse and molestation can take place anywhere, and any program where adults supervise children is fertile ground for predators.

Most child predators are “groomers” as opposed to “grabbers” and it’s their modus operandi to earn the  trust of the child and parents prior to any abuse taking place. They create an emotional bond with the child, which works to prevent the child from reporting incidents. Youth sports programs are prime targets for perpetrators of these crimes.

Extra precautions need taken when youth sports teams travel out of town overnight for tournaments and camps. Below are basic tips to help protect young athletes from adults who intend to do them harm, and minimize the risk of coaches and chaperones being accused of improper or criminal behavior toward the children.

Hotel safety

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Please visit our Risk Management page for more sports tips and safety information.

Protecting your team and league from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all teams and leagues? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your organization. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Getting the right insurance coverage does not have to be complicated if you work with an agency like SADLER. The insurance experts at SADLER understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your sports or recreation organization.

To learn more about liability prevention or get a customized insurance quote, you can apply online right now or call us at 1-800-622-7370. There are no obligations. Most quotes are sent in just a few hours. Since there no application fees and we offer the most competitive rates in the industry, what do you have to lose?

Swimming outings source of liability claims

Safety first at team pool parties

The swimming outing in a coach’s backyard or at a motel pool during a tournament is commonly the source of drowning or near-drowning incidents.

Drowning among youth baseball and softball players seems to be a prevalent problem in youth sports leagues. Of course, this is not isolated to just the baseball/softball arena, but more common most likely because of spring and summer activity.

An 8-year-old boy nearly drowned during his football team pool party in Arizona. His parents were in attendance but distracted for just long enough. Fortunately, the child was rescued by another alert parent.  Unfortunately, most cases that we read about do not have such happy endings.

Sport-related injuriesVigilance is the key

Drowning is the second highest cause of accidental death in children under the age of 15, according to the Center for Disease Control.. Approximately 750 children will drown next year, 375 of whom will be within 25 yards of an adult.

Accidents cannot always be prevented. It’s critical, however, to be vigilant when dealing with children in youth sports organizations. Most of the time, not every one of the children has a parent or guardian with them, especially when the team travels.  These parents trust that the coaches and volunteers that they leave their children with will be monitoring their safety and bringing them back home in one piece.

Steps toward prevention

Simple precautions can be taken to lessen the risk of drowning.

  • Participation requires passing a swim test.

  • Instill in team members “the buddy system” so they’re accountable for each other.

  • Have at least one CPR-trained adult in attendance.

  • Prohibit alcohol consumption by adults at all youth parties.

  • Adults should not be involved in any distracting activity (such as grilling, reading, talking on phone)

  • Hire a certified lifeguard and require them to provide proof of adequate General Liability insurance.

The avoidance alternative

A number of Sadler Sports insurance clients have been sued for drowning or near drowning incidents resulting in very costly settlements. I’ve personally witnessed a number of incidents around pools where parents get caught up in conversations and lose their concentration for just a split second, and that’s all it takes.

In my opinion, the risks of serious injury and resulting lawsuits are so significant with swimming parties that such activities should be avoided as their risks outweigh their benefits. Avoidance of high risk activities is sports risk management 101 and I put swimming parties right up there with the use of 15 passenger vans (tip-over risks) and sleepovers (sex abuse and molestation risk).

You can find further information on pool safety on the American Red Cross website. If you have questions, please contact us.

Applying Title IX to Municipal Field Usage

Do girls have equal rights to field usage?

A client in Oregon contacted me about a problem the local softball league is having as regards access to fields. I doubt this problem is unique, and perhaps other organizations can benefit  from this information.

The local rec baseball and softball teams share a municipal ballpark, which includes multiple practice fields. Apparently, the girls are not given equitable field time except in the fall, when the boys don’t play.The softball teams have offered to help maintain and build fields to pull their weight, to no avail.

The coach asks if Title IX or another statute applies in this case since the fields are part of a public facility.

According to our research, Title IX does not apply to municipalities unless the public facilities were being used for school-based programs. However, the equal protection clause provides an avenue to request injunctive relief if that becomes necessary. However, that can certainly be avoided if the municipality would simply allot field space based on the percentage of boys teams vs. girls teams. For example, if there are 75 boys teams and 25 girls teams, the girls teams should have access to 25% of the prime practice opportunities.

Understanding how the law works can help girls gain access to fields and can help the municipality stay out of trouble.

If you have a question or concern about your sports organization, don’t hesitate to contact me.

$4.4 Million settlement for Student Head Injury

Were warning signs ignored?

On September 14, 2007, while playing in a high school football game, Scott Eveland, suffered a serious head injury that caused bleeding inside his brain.  He now has to communicate using a keyboard and is confined to a wheelchair due to extensive brain damage.

It was alleged that head coach Chris Hauser ignored warning signs.  Scott had complained to the assistant trainer the week before the game that he was having headaches and had already missed some practices.  On the day of the injury, Scott requested to sit out the first quarter due to a headache, but the head coach denied his request.  A settlement of $4.4 million has now been agreed upon by the area school district in San Diego.

Jury verdicts of this nature will pressure General Liability carriers to increase rates or restrict coverage.  There has been an outcry from high school coaches and former players who are concerned that jury verdicts will end contact sports such as tackle football.  In my opinion, this risk will be better managed in the future by the use of better waiver/release agreements, education on concussions and warning signs, baseline cognitive testing and better helmet technology.

A Reality Check for Youth Sports Administrators

Learn from the Paterno, Spanier, Curley and McQuery mistakes

This blog post isn’t specifically about the Penn State case and who was or wasn’t fired. Rather it’s a reality check for all involved with youth: no one is invincible. Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Mike McQuery did not commit the physical crimes against children that Jerry Sandusky did.  However, they were responsible and liable for their own actions when there is even a hint that someone is abusing a child.

The Penn State case is making national headlines because of its legendary coach and its football program, but it’s important to understand that such behavior occurs frequently in youth sports.  Most readers of this blog are involved in teams/leagues/youth programs in sYouth sports risk managementome capacity or another. Are you a coach, athletic director, team mom or a parent on the sidelines?  Whatever your position, today is the day to step back and realize where exactly you fit into the lives of the kids participating in your youth sports organization.  You are there to protect them at all costs.

Our previous blog post, Child Predators in Youth Sports, is a must read for anyone who is involved with children. It includes a link to a Sports Illustrated article written with the help of actual predators in youth programs detailing how they got away with their crimes. Did you know that, according to the article, studies have found that the average molester victimizes about 120 children before he is caught? That’s extremely disturbing! The blog post also offers useful risk management guidelines that your organization can implement today. And share this post with others so that we all can make a difference.

Follow this link for more articles on preventing sexual abuse and molestation.