Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

USA Baseball Announces New Youth Bat Performance Test Program

New standard aims to eliminate performance disparities for long term integrity of the game

USA Baseball recently announced the adoption of a new bat performance testing method for youth baseball bats for ages 12 & under.

USAB is basing the new standard on research that demonstrates manufacturers now have the technology and materials to construct non-wood youth bats throughout the entire range of lengths and weights that perform on the same level as wood bats.

USAB National member organizations American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball, and PONY Baseball are supporting the new program, USABat.

USABat will go into effect January 1, 2018 and be applicable to bats classified below NCAA and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) age levels. The 2018 date means no immediate changes will be made to the rules and allows time for the bat manufacturer to get the products into retail outlets.

The goal of USABat is to make the game more uniform by eliminating performance discrepancies to maintain the integrity of the game. The USABat performance test is based on the coefficient of restitution from a bat-ball impact. This is similar to the BBCOR standard that is being used by NCAA and NFHS. However, the youth bats were tested with different balls and pitch speeds to simulate the youth game.

All new bats displaying USABat licensing mark (available in the fall of 2017) will be permissible for play in participating youth baseball organizations. Bats currently deemed acceptable by their league will be permitted through December 31, 2017.

In my opinion: Even though not a stated goal, this new standard will address the issue of the “hot bat” and the fear of line drive injuries to pitchers and infielders.

Innovative sports equipment and safety regulations

Weeding through the hype

There’s an abundance of sports equipment manufacturers coming up with innovative products intended to make contact sports safer. The ongoing concern about concussions, particularly among youth athletes, is a focus and big money maker for many of these manufacturers.

As Eric Berman, an advertising and antitrust attorney, points out in a recent article, manufacturers compete for a share in the market by advertising their products’ safety features. However, the claims made by advertisers and marketers and the science they use to bolster those claims will be scrutinized by both regulators and consumers. Berman’s article discusses the false advertising claims recently being denied by a federal judge in the Riddell Revolution helmet case.

Riddell may have prevailed, but manufacturers will be held to the FTC’s new stringent test data retention requirements. It’s important that advertiser claims are supported by science and that all the documented data, test protocols and records for the clinical studies are maintained.

All that is well and good, but the best way to lower the risk of concussions and other sports-related injuries is through risk management and proper technique training based on credible scientific research. We encourage you to read some of our many articles advocating for risk management policies and concussion education. A perfect example is the Seattle Seahawks’ tackling video, which was released in 2014 as a way to educate coaches and players about their team’s methods of tackling.

Don’t count on technology to provide the safety you can achieve using common sense and proven methods.

Crime and Equipment Policies for Sports Organizations

The difference is important

Some administrators who make the insurance purchasing decisions for sports organizations are confused over the difference between Crime Insurance and Equipment Insurance.  They mistakenly believe that theft of equipment by outsiders or vandalism of equipment is a crime covered by a Crime Policy.  This is not correct.

Here is an easy way to distinguish between the two policies:

Equipment Insurance = Loss of sports equipment due to fire, wind, vandalism, theft, etc.

Crime Insurance = Employee/Volunteer theft of equipment or embezzlement of funds.

Of course, the above explanation is an over simplification, but it is an easy way to understand the main differences between the two policies.

Injuries at Gyms and Homes

Thousands suffer in pursuit of fitness

Fitness Instructor Insurance and Health Club Insurance is in high demand due to frequent gym injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the following injury statistics occurred in 2009:

  • 1500 emergency room visits resulting from equipment related
    mishaps in gyms
  • 50,000 emergency room visits from home exercise equipment incidents including treadmill falls, exercise ball falls, elastic stretch band hits to face, and dropping free weights on feet.
  • Treadmills are the number one cause of equipment related injuries with 575 occurrences of falling off and tripping
  • Weight machines and free weights caused 224 injuries.
  • Common gym equipment related injuries include broken ankles,fractured arms, fractured legs, and fingertip amputations.

Fitness instructors cite the following reason for gym/exercise related injuries:

  • Inattention due to Ipods, cell phones, and reading
  • Using equipment for the first time without proper instruction
  • Working out too hard, too soon after a period of inactivity.


Insurance Policies Needed by Sports Organizations

The minimum needed for maximum benefit

Because many sports organizations are run by volunteers, they are often under-insured. Insufficient insurance coverage may be a by-product of money-saving efforts or simply a matter of not understanding the risks of exposure to the athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers, and board members

Below is a list of the most important insurance policies that may be needed by community-based sports organizations such as teams, leagues, and municipal recreation departments.
  1. Accident: Pays medical bills on behalf of injured participants such as players and staff.
  2.  General Liability: responds to lawsuits arising from bodily injury, property damage, personal/advertising injury.
  3. Directors & Officers Liability (AKA Trustees Errors & Omissions for municipal recreation departments): Responds to certain lawsuitSports orginizationss not covered by General Liability such as discrimination, wrongful suspension or termination, failure to follow your own rules or bylaws, and violation of rights of others under state, federal, or constitutional law.
  4. Property/Equipment: Covers your buildings, equipment, and contents against loss due to fire, vandalism, theft, etc.
  5. Crime: Covers employee or volunteer embezzlement of funds or theft of property; forgery or alteration of checks by outsiders, and theft of money and securities by outsiders.
  6. Workers’ Compensation: May be required by state law if three or more employees and pays benefits to injured workers for “on the job” injuries including medical bills, lost wages, disability lump sums, disfigurement lump sums, and death benefits.
  7. Business Auto: Covers liability and physical damage to owned, non owned, and hired autos.
  8. Consult with your insurance agent about other types of policies such as Liquor Liability, Cyber Liability, Media, etc.

We provide more detailed information on each of these policy types and insider tips on purchasing insurance in our article, 7 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Sports Insurance. If you have questions or want assistance in deciding which policies your organization needs, call us at (800) 622-7370.

Copyright 2002-20014, Sadler & Company, Inc.

Is a League Liable for Faulty Sports Equipment?

Concerns regarding older equipment

We received a phone call from a youth lacrosse club coach who was concerned about the use of 20-year-old helmets that haven’t been reconditioned or re-certified. He wanted to know if he could be liable in the event of a head injury to a player since it his responsibility to verify to the referee prior to the game that all equipment is in safe operating condition. He also wanted to know if his General Liability policy would cover any potential lawsuit.

 The short answer is that league administrators and coaches are responsible for the following aspects of equipment safety:
  • Long-range planning for the repair, refurbishment, and replacement of helmets. These decisions need to be made far in advance as they can take time to budget and complete.
  • Confirming helmets meet current National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) requirements, as well as the requirements of the sports governing body.
  • Helmets should be inspected for defects in post season, pre season, weekly, and prior to any game or practice.
  • Maintaining repairing, and conditioning equipment on a regular basis.
  • Reconditioning to “like new” basis of safety equipment such as helmets should be performed by a reputable reconditioning business as opposed to an on staff trainer. NOCSAE may require re-certification.
  • Replacing helmets on a periodic basis per manufacturers recommendations.
  • Record keeping for documentation purposes on all of the above.Lacrosse equipment
There is no doubt that many of the above outlined principles may have been violated and the coach is justified in his concerns about liability.
General Liability policies generally don’t have an exclusion for lawsuits arising from of injuries due to failure to follow proper equipment safety protocol as outlined above. Therefore, coverage is likely to exist under most policies. However, a minority of policies may have a punitive damages exclusion. Willful disregard of known safety protocol could result in punitive damages. In addition, any litigation, even if covered by General Liability insurance, results in a black eye for the program and pretrial discovery and litigation is an emotional drain on league administrators and coaches.
For a more detailed resource on Equipment Safety, see our Risk Management Program for Sports Organizations

New Football Helmet Standard Specific to Concussion Risk

Preventing sudden head rotation acceleration

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment approved a revised football helmet standard requiring helmet testing for certain concussion-causing forces on June 20. This is the first helmet standard to include testing for concussion-specific forces.

The current standard requires helmets to pass tests involving multiple linear impacts delivered in various conditions, locations and strengths. An addition to this standard tests helmet performance under a combination of forces associated with concussion-type injuries, specifically those that make a player’s head spin suddenly. This is called rotational acceleration, which causes twisting and stretching of the brain within the skull as the head makes a rapid direction change.

If no revisions to the standard are made within the next year, the NOCSAE board will likely finalize the standard and require its implementation by manufacturers by June 2016.

“Our next step will be to establish a threshold that helmets must meet to reduce concussion risk. NOCSAE will continue to challenge the scientific, medical and manufacturing communities to explore solutions for enhanced athlete safety,” said Robert Cantu, NOCSAE vice president and co-founder of the Sports Legacy Institute.

Concussion warning signs and prevention

NOCSAE stresses that concussion-proof helmets are not likely, and that effective concussion prevention requires measures be taken both on and off the field. Ensuring proper helmet fit, teaching athletes proper techniques, enforcing the rules and making sure athletes follow recommended time off before returning to play are necessary steps in reducing concussion risks.

It’s not clear whether helmet changes really will help, cautioned Dr. Thom Mayer, medical director of the NFL Players Association is cautious about whether helmet changes will actually make a difference. “[W]e’re committed to making sure we look at what are the most cutting-edge helmet testing standards available. This is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Millions of youth play school or community sports. The number of those suffering concussions is unclear because of how many go undiagnosed. Emergency rooms across the country treated 250,000 people 19 and younger for concussions and other sports- or recreation-related brain injuries in 2009, according to The Institute of Medicine.

More information on concussion signs/symptoms and concussion prevention, including tips for concussion risk management, is available on our blog and risk management page.

Source: Associated Press, 20 June, 2014 and

Safety in the Gym

Risk management from top to bottom

Occasional injuries in a gymnasium or sports facility are to be expected, but they’re usually due to the inherent risk of sports participation. However, no one should ever expect an equipment-related injury.

In-depth equipment inspections should be conducted annually, and visual spot checks every month. Documentation of these inspections is an integral part risk management and can be the key to combatting allegations of negligence or noncompliance in the event of an injury claim.

Don’t assume staff is knowledgeable enough to conduct these inspections. If necessary, hire a professional inspection service. Such services usually don’t perform repairs, but can refer you to a company that does. If performing your own in-house inspections, there are areas that can be easily overlooked.

Looking up

As every grocery store manager knows, people focus on what’s at eye level. Sports facilities often have wall-mounted and/or ceiling-mounted systems, such as basketball nets, storage systems, and lighting. Make it a priority to look up for frayed cables or broken pulleys and mounts. Staff, players and fans are susceptible to serious injuries from stretched cables, loose attachments, or improperly stored equipment.

“If you see something that might be a problem, you need to investigate.” – Nick Cusick, Bison Inc.

Are problems afoot?

The gym floor houses equipment that can poses risks as well. Volleyball nets and soccer goals should be inspected for proper anchoring. Unsecured equipment can fall on players or cause players to trip. Safety wall padding should be checked regularly to ensure none is loose and still in good shape, not torn or worn thin.

Proper and sufficient signage can’t be stressed enough. Not only does it draw attention to safety issues and rules, but is a significant part of any risk management program. In other words, signs protect the public from safety hazards and the gym owner/operator. from potential lawsuits

If you have questions or concerns about safety issues, contact Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance at (800) 622-7370. And don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!

Source: Emily Attwood, “Inspections, Monitoring Key to Optimal Gym Operation,“ Athletic Business. March, 2014.



Maintaining Fitness Center Equipment

An ounce of prevention could be worth hundreds of thousands

Did you hear the one about the fellow lifting weights while using a large exercise ball to support his back? As he was pumping two 40-lb. dumbbells in this position, the exercise ball seam suddenly split, deflating the ball and sending the man crashing to the floor. He suffered injuries to his wrists and back, which were treated, but he sued the fitness club and the manufacturer and distributor of the exercise ball for more than $5 million. Turns out he was an aspiring golfer hoping to join the PGA. He claimed the injuries derailed his career and potential prize winnings and product endorsement earnings.

Not just another frivolous lawsuit

The plaintiff alleged, among other things, that the club neglected “to conduct timely and adequate inspections of equipment for defects and potential hazards such as damage or excessive wear.” His claims were based on the ball manufacturer’s instructions indicating the product had a one-year life expectancy and should be checked “for wear “before each use.

After spending 2.5 years in court and hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees, a settlement was reached when the the fitness center was unable to document the date exercise ball was first put in use or provide an inspection record.

Preventing easily avoidable accidents

The manufacturers of each piece of equipment from treadmills to yoga mats comes with life expectancy and maintenance guidelines. To minimize the risk of Exercise ballan explosive situation like the one above, pay attention to, follow, and document compliance with the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations.

Replacing a piece of equipment is much cheaper, and safer, than the alternative.

A fitness center monthly equipment maintenance check should include, but is not limited to:

  • TV entertainment equipment and mounts .
  • Calibration and cleaning of cardio equipment per manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Inspection of treadmill belts and decks for wear.  Lubricate as needed.
  • Removal of treadmill motor shrouds for internal vacuuming.
  • Inspection of elliptical mechanical parts for wear. Lubricate as needed.
  • Inspect/lubricate bike chains, cranks, pedals and straps and replace as required.
  • Inspection of all strength training equipment, including but not limited to: adjusting cables, belts, pulley alignment, tightening bolts and adjusting range of motion cams.
  • Inspection of exercise class equipment, i.e. balls, steps, bands, weights, etc.

Source: Jeffrey Long.    To Avoid Lawsuits, Health Clubs Must Heed Equipment Life Expectancy,” Athletic Business. Sept. 2013

Helmet design and concussion prevention

Latest research confirms design makes a difference

Reducing player concussions is a top priority in the world of football. Despite earlier blog postings citing doubts about the protective ability of advanced helmets, the latest research says advances in helmet design can make a huge impact on lowering the number of concussions for football players of all ages.

 The latest research

A recent study was the first to be conducted on the playing field, not in the lab. Two differently-designed Riddell helmets, the VSR4 and the Revolution, were fitted with sensors and tested on nearly 2000 college players over a five-year span. The Riddell Revolution helmets showed a 54 percent reduction in concussion risk compared to the VSR4. Player participants were from schools such as UNC, Virginia Tech and Brown. Data from the sensors, engineered to measure biomechanical head acceleration, was collected from more than one million head impacts.

“The Revolution is slightly bigger and has more padding, with a different shell configuration,” said Stefan Duma, the head of the Virginia Tech–Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. Both those elements result in lowered head acceleration, which in turn offers a significantly lower risk of concussion.

It’s not the helmet company, it’s the helmet design

The three elements involved in football concussions are the game rules, the coaching and helmet quality. A weak link in that triple combination raises the risk of concussion.

Riddell’s Revolution was designed 10 years ago, but until 2011 the VSR4 was the preferred helmet of over 50 percent of NFL and college coaches. The VSR4 was designed over 20 years ago. There are newer helmets on the market. Players, parents and coaches should take the time and effort to research a variety of helmet designs and choose the equipment that offers the best head-impact protection.

For more information on lowering concussion risks, please visit Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance for the concussion resources section of our risk management content.

Source: Loren Grush, “Football helmet design,”, 31 Jan. 2014.