Sample AYF/AYC Sports Risk Management Awareness Program

Note: This copyrighted program is available exclusively for current clients of Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance.  Be sure to customize for your program by filling in all blanks, choosing all options, deleting all references to “notes” and unselected “options”, and making all applicable selections for your program. After all the customization has been completed, this 24 page document will likely be reduced to under 15 pages.)

Appoint Risk Management Officer (RMO)

Risk Management Officer (RMO) is a formal position of our sports organization and the name and contact information of this position should be prominently displayed wherever officer names are listed.

Our RMO is responsible for implementing, monitoring, and taking corrective action on all issues related to our risk management program. Our RMO answers to our risk management committee, if applicable, and board of directors but is empowered to make all day to day decisions on issues related to hazards including the modification, suspension, or halting of practice or play, if necessary.

Our staff including administrators, coaches, assistant coaches, managers, etc. are an extension of the RMO through their presence at every practice, game, and other events and should be in close contact with the RMO should any problems arise.

Any staff member who observes unsafe physical hazards, conditions, acts, or violation of the risk management best practices, should take the following action:

  1. Take immediate corrective action, if feasible, and
  2. Immediately notify RMO by text or email.


Risk Management Committee (Optional)

Our sports organization should appoint a risk management committee, the names of which should be documented in our official records each season.

(Note: best to limit to an odd number for vote tie breaking. The RMO can be a member of the committee)

The Risk Management Committee should meet during the pre-season and post season and any other time a special meeting is required.

The duties of the Risk Management Committee should be as follows:

  • Long range planning to discuss all facility and equipment updating and budgeting.
  • Monitor and study effectiveness of Risk Management Program.
  • Recommend risk management changes to board of directors.


Avoiding or Mitigating High Risk Activities

Our sports organization should avoid and/or mitigate the following high-risk activities:

(Note: delete the options that don’t apply)

  • Serving Of or Use of Alcoholic Beverages: The use of alcoholic beverages should be prohibited at all sports organization events.
  • Certain Fundraisers: (note: select and/or delete from the following options)
    • Youth participants should be prohibited from engaging in fundraising activities that are not adult supervised.
    • Dunk tanks, inflatables, and similar devices should only be provided and run by outside vendors that can show evidence of General Liability insurance with a limit of at least$1,000,000 and naming the sports organization as “Additional Insured”.
  • Swimming Events: (note: select and/or delete from the following options)
    • Swimming events sponsored by the sports organization should be prohibited.
    • Swimming events sponsored by the sports organization should be allowed only if conducted in the presence of a trained and certified life guard who is employed by an outside organization.
    • Swimming events at the home of staff should be prohibited.
  • Overnight Sleepovers Not Related To Tournament Travel: These events pose a high risk of incidents of sexual abuse & molestation. See section on Abuse / Molestation.
  • Entering Parade Floats In Parades: (note: select and/or delete from the following options)
    • Parade floats should be prohibited
    • Parade floats should be allowed only if the risks are mitigated by the best practices in Parade Float Risk Management.


Abuse / Molestation Risk Management

Criminal Background Checks

Criminal background checks should be run with a third-party vendor on all paid and volunteer staff with access to youth.  At a minimum, the criminal background check should pull records from all 50 states to include the National Criminal Database and the National Sex Offender registry.  Any background check that indicates that a potential staff member is unfit to work with youth should result in disqualification of such staff member. Prior to running background checks, the following steps should be taken:

  • All prospective staff should complete a written application to include a question about whether the applicant has ever had any prior criminal convictions or is pending any current investigations and a consent provision to run a background check.
  • Disqualification criteria should be adopted and published. DQ criteria may be provided by the background check vendor.
  • The confidentiality of records should be protected and access should be limited to those on a “need to know” basis.
  • Before an adverse action is taken against an applicant, our organization should comply with all federal and state laws governing background checks such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and assistance should be requested from our background check vendor as regards required applicant notifications.


Identifying Signs Of Child Abuse

With physical abuse, there may be signs of bruises, welts, or broken bones. With sexual abuse, there may be signs of genital soreness, difficulty sitting or walking, stomach aches, pain/itching when urinating or defecating, and pain/itching in genital area. But most often the effects of sexual abuse are less obvious.

Please note that no indicators or symptoms are absolute.  Many of these could be indicators of problems other than child abuse.  However, if some of these things are going on, consider them to be a red flag.  One difficulty is that some signs are ambiguous.  Children may respond in different ways and some may show no sign at all.  Some indicators include:

  • Disclosure by child.  Most children won’t just come out and say they have been abused, but instead, may hint at it.
  • Unexplained/unlikely explanation of injuries.
  • Sudden shifts in behavior or attitudes when an outgoing child suddenly builds a protected, closed wall or a generally happy child becomes aggressive and angry or a trusting child becomes fearful.
  • Extreme fear of a sports organization volunteer.
  • Extreme low self-esteem, self worth.
  • A child’s attachment to a coach/staff to the point of isolation from others.
  • A child’s desire to drop out without a clear explanation, or without one that makes sense.
  • A child that misses a lot of practices or games with suspicious explanations or excuses.


Recognizing Grooming

Grooming is the process by which sexual predators pave the way for sexual abuse by gradually gaining the trust of and conditioning of minors, parents, and administrators. The steps in the grooming process are as follows:

  • Identify a vulnerable child whose needs are not being met such as lack of attention by parents, lack of spending money, etc.
  • Fill the missing needs of the child by providing attention, transportation, help with homework, special favors, confiding in secrets, spending money, gifts, etc. to create a “special bond”.
  • Gain trust of family by spending disproportionate amount of time with them.
  • Isolate the victim to create one on one opportunities.
  • Gradually use boundary invasions that start off with inappropriate electronic communications and photo sharing, tickling, wrestling, massages, alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc. that lead to  nudity and sexual activity.
  • Maintain control and silence with threats of fear and shame.


Policies To Protect Against Misconduct

  • All forms of abuse including sexual, physical, emotional, harassment, bullying, and hazing are prohibited.
  • Prohibited sexual abuse physical acts include genital contact whether or not either party is clothed; fondling of a participant’s breast or buttocks; sexual penetration; sexual assault, exchange of a reward in sport for sexual favors; lingering or repeated embrace that goes beyond acceptable physical touch; tickling, wrestling, or massage; and continued physical contact that makes a participant uncomfortable.
  • Prohibited sexual abuse verbal acts include making sexually oriented comments, jokes and innuendo; staff member discussing his or her sex life with participant; asking about a participant’s sex life; requesting or sending a nude or partial dress photo; exposing participants to pornographic material; voyeurism; and sexting with a participant.
  • Any type of grooming behavior is prohibited.
  • Prohibited forms of physical abuse include punching, beating, biting, striking, choking, slapping, or intentionally hitting a participant with objects or sports equipment; providing alcohol to a participant under legal drinking age; providing illegal drugs or non prescribed medications to any participant; encouraging or permitting a participant to return to play after injury or sickness prematurely without clearance of a medical professional; prescribing dieting or other weight control methods for humiliation purposes; isolating a participant in a confined space; forcing participant to assume a painful stance or position for no athletic purpose; withholding, or denying adequate hydration, nutrition medical attention, or sleep.
  • Prohibited emotional abuse includes a pattern of verbally attacking a participant personally such as calling them worthless, fat or disgusting; physically aggressive behaviors such as throwing or hitting objects; and ignoring a participant for extended periods of time or excluding them from practice.
  • Bullying includes an intentional, persistent, or repeated pattern of committing or willfully tolerating (e.g., staff not preventing) physical, nonphysical, or cyber bullying behaviors that are intended to cause fear, humiliation, physical harm in an attempt to socially exclude, diminish, or isolate another person emotionally, physically, or sexually. It is often not the staff, but instead, other participants who are the perpetrators of bullying. However, it is a violation if the staff member knows or should have known of the bullying behavior but takes no action to intervene on behalf of the targeted participants.
  • Prohibited hazing includes any contact which is intimidating, humiliating, offensive or physically harmful. Hazing typically is an activity that serves as a condition for joining a team of being socially accepted by team members.
  • Two deep leadership is required where two adults (e.g., any combination of staff or parents) should be present at all times so that a minor participant can’t be isolated with a single unrelated adult, except in the case of an emergency.
  • In special situations involving an adult such as car travel, overnight travel, locker rooms/changing areas, individual coach meetings, and individual training sessions, minors should always have another child buddy with them or a second adult within an observable and interruptible distance.
  • All electronic communications including email, texting, instant message, etc. between the staff member and a minor participant should be limited strictly to the legitimate activities of the organization.  A parent/guardian of minor or another staff member should be copied on all such communications.
  • Staff and minor participants should not connect on social media outside of the organization’s official social media accounts.
  • Any overnight travel exposure should prohibit adults spending the night in the same room as an unrelated minor participant; require grouping of participants of the same sex and age group in rooms; and provide adequate oversight with a same-sex chaperone for each group.
  • Take off/pick up of athletes by staff should be strongly discouraged because of the difficulty in limiting one-on-one contact.


Reporting Suspicions of Child Sexual or Physical Abuse and Other Forms of Abuse

Federal or state law may require any adult staff member who has a suspicion of child sexual or physical abuse to independently report such suspicion directly to law enforcement within 24 hours. Failure to report may be a punishable offense.

In addition, the adult staff member should report the suspicion within 24 hours to the appropriate organization official and the official should also report to law enforcement within 24 hours if there is suspicion that child sexual or physical abuse has been committed.

The organization should allow law enforcement to handle the investigation and the suspected staff member should be immediately suspended or reassigned to alternative duties that don’t involve access to youth pending the outcome of the investigation. Organization officials should not comment on the allegation or police investigation until it has been concluded.

Staff members should also report prohibited misconduct other than child sexual and physical abuse to the appropriate organization official and the organization can investigate and decide what types of sanctions, if any, are appropriate.

The organization is prohibited from retaliating in any way against a staff member who makes a good faith report of a suspicion of any form of misconduct.


Child Abuse Training For Minors

The Safe Sport Act requires sports organizations to provide minor training on preventing and reporting of child abuse. Our organization should distribute the following documents: Minor Training (Ages 4-12) and/or Minor Training (Ages 13-17) or a similar document from another source to each parent with a strong recommendation that each parent should review this document with their minor child.


For More Detailed Information

This section on abuse / molestation risk management is a summary of a more detailed risk management program entitled Safe Sport Child Abuse and Other Misconduct Risk Management Plan for Non-NGB Organizations.  Please refer the more detailed program if you need more information on the following issues: Safe Sport Act Requirements; abuse and misconduct definitions; social media; email; text, and instant messaging; locker rooms and changing areas; travel; reporting misconduct; what to do after reporting to law enforcement; responding to misconduct and policy violations; whistleblower protection; dealing with the media; screening volunteers; and administration of criminal background checks.



Liability risk can be reduced if the following guidelines are followed:

Stop Rowdiness: Participant rowdiness and roughhousing results in a great number of senseless injuries in youth sports. Staff should recognize these activities and should put a stop to them through appropriate means.

Location of Supervisor: The location of the staff supervisor should be close enough to an activity to personally observe, instruct, correct, and supervise. This applies to both sports activities and non-sports extracurricular activities such as team trip to ice cream parlor or back yard cookout.

Ratios of Supervisors to Participants: The appropriate number of staff supervisors should be present at all times to adequately observe, instruct, correct, and supervise. Make sure that arrangements are made up front so that team staff is not shorthanded at any practice or game.

Selection of Size, Age, and Skill of Participants: Participants of various sizes, ages, and skill levels should not be mixed. This is accomplished at the sports organization level by restricting age range categories and by prohibiting play against outside competition where participants fall outside of such categories. On the team level, staff should not match up players of different skill levels or sizes in dangerous drills and staff must be careful not to personally injure participants during practice instruction.



Liability risk can be reduced if the following guidelines are followed:

Sport Specific Techniques:

  • Coaches should follow accepted practices for teaching football and cheer related techniques.
  • Coaches should receive continuing education on latest techniques as follows:
  • Pre-season coaches workshop
  • Recommended Videos
  • Special emphasis should be on the following more hazardous areas of the sport:
  • Tackling technique
  • Concussion recognition, removal and return to play policy

Review of Safety Rules and Procedures:

  • Required by governing/sanctioning body or sports organization specific
  • Review all rule changes during pre-season with administrators and staff
  • Review the following rules with players before every practice and game

AYF / AYC Coach Training/Certification

  • All AYF/AYC head coaches should be certified prior to start of duties and should retain updated certification.
  • Certification should be obtained through online course.
  • All coaches should take and pass the free CDC Head Up online concussion training course or similar. See section on concussions.


Selected AYF/AYC Safety Rules (Optional)

Sports organizations should follow their sanctioning body’s rules and regulations.

AYF Rules

Practice time:

Team practice should not commence until the fourth Monday in July with the first week being dedicated to 10 hours of conditioning only, before full contact is allowed.

Preseason practice can be on a daily basis until Labor Day, but should not exceed 10 hours a week, and two hours in duration. Mandatory 20 minute break after each hour of practice should be required.  Wet Bulb Globe Temperature index max required longer break times depending on conditions.

After Labor Day, all practices should not exceed the maximum of eight hours per week with a maximum of two hours duration per day. Mandatory breaks should still require.


Practice staff requirements:

  • At least one coach should be present during every practice.
  • Each and every coach should have a background check performed and reviewed/approved by the process established by the association/conference.
  • There should be at least one person holding a Red Cross card, or a similar equivalent, present at all practices. This coach could be a coach or any volunteer approved by the Association.
  • There should be no inter-team practice or games between teams/divisions. This requirement is so that teams will not compete outside of their own age group during full contact practice or games.


Practice restrictions:

The following drills and warm-up exercises should be banned from all activities: leg lifts, neck bridges, neck rolls, bull in the ring, barrel rolls, any and all drills and exercises not generally accepted as safe and that may not be reflective of actions that would normally occur during the course of a football game.

The National Federation of State High School Association and National Collegiate Athletic Association rulebooks contain strong language on blocking and tackling. Coaches should be fully informed and abide by all such rules of their state’s governing body. Coaches are also responsible to review these rules every year. In addition to other specific prohibitions, but blocking, chop blocking, face tackling or spearing techniques should be strictly prohibited.  See Football/Cheer Brain Injury Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program for practice restrictions to reduce full contact during practices.

Game requirements:

Football games should be scheduled no more than one game per week with a minimum of 48 hours between games.

Medical requirements:

In the absence of a physician and/or ambulance on site, the minimum requirement should be the presence of an individual who is EMT certified, is currently certified in Red Cross community first aid and safety or its equivalent.

Coaches should have Emergency Medical Release forms in their possession at all times.

The emergency medical evaluation plan should be reviewed with visiting team to include ambulance access to field, directions to facility, emergency medical services phone numbers, and local police and fire phone numbers.

Once an injured participant is removed from the game, they should not reenter the game unless first approved by the emergency medical personnel covering the game. If a participant is transported off the field to a medical facility or for any reason seeks medical attention whether from an injury sustained during a game or practice, they should not resume participation without the written consent from a MD or DO. See AYF Doctors Resume Participation Consent form in

Medical clearance: all AYF participants should deliver to their local association proof of a medical clearance before participating in AYF programs. This includes but is not limited to preseason practice. The exact wording of the medical clearance can be found in the AYF Rules and Regulations manual and the form can be found in

Coach requirements:

Head coaches should be at least 21 years old. The coaching staff will be under his/her direction and supervision.

Assistant coaches should be at least 18 years old and have graduated from high school or hold a GED certificate. They should have a general knowledge of the game of football.

Coach trainees should be a minimum of 16 years old and may only carry out the instructions of the head or assistant coaches.

Each team should have a coach or volunteer that is the holder of a current Red Cross certificate in community CPR and first aid or its equivalent.

All administrators, coaches, and volunteers should abide by a standard of conduct which includes the provisions as outlined in the AYF Rules and Regulations manual.

Coach training and certification:

All head coaches should be certified and updated using online course. This course will provide education on being a better communicator, administering sports first aid, planning your season and practices, and teaching fundamentals such as concussion risk management.

AYC Rules

The general football rules as stated in the official rules and regulations which apply to football players also apply to cheerleaders, with the exception of weight or weight ins, and, of course, the rules of contact, except superseded by the official cheer rules and regulations. See the AYC Rules and Regulations manual for a listing of all prohibited stunts in levels 1-4. Coaches and coordinators are responsible to comprehend and comply with all cheer/dance/step age division requirements, AYC general safety rules, Youth Cheer and Dance Alliance (YCADA) safety rules, and/or routine guidelines pertaining to the competing division.

Coach requirements:

Student demonstrators should be 14 years of age or older; however, if the student demonstrator is attending high school, he or she may be 13 years old. Student demonstrators may only carry out the instructions of the head or assistant coaches. Student demonstrators may not conduct a practice.

Head coaches should complete an association/conference approved training program. The association/conference may also make this a requirement of assistant coaches. It is highly recommended that all coaches successfully complete, at a minimum, YCADA’s Coach’s Safety Certification Course Y101 available online at

Practice length:

Preseason practice can be on a daily basis until Labor Day, but should not exceed ten hours per week, and 2 1/2 hours in duration per day. A mandatory ten minute break after each hour of practice should be required. Mandatory breaks do not count against the hours per week or the maximum hours per day.

After Labor Day, all practices should not exceed a maximum of eight hours per week, with a maximum of 2 1/2 hours per day. Mandatory breaks should still be required. All players, regardless of when they joined the team, should have at least one week of conditioning (at least 10 hours) before they are allowed to engage in regular practice. This requirement should be met even if a cheerleader joins the team after the start of the regular season schedule. Conditioning is defined as basic warm-up exercises; conditioning for jumps & tumbling (not tumbling); arm motion drills; and basic stunting at prep level; and learning of cheers and chants.

Level Division Guidelines:

Each of the age divisions should be divided into skills levels 1- 4.

These levels were created in the interest of providing safety increased and convenience for teams that may perform a different skill levels. Coaches must consider tumbling and stunting abilities when choosing a level in which their team will compete. Team should choose to compete in the level that accurately matches the overall ability level of their team.

Teams should be required to comply with YCADA rules, as well as the skill restrictions that correspond to the level division that they choose. Any team that violates a safety guideline performs a skill not permitted in the level should be subject to penalty.


Emergency Weather Plan

In the event of lightning, the sports organization should heed any warnings from facility based lightning detection meters. If a lightning meter is not available, the 30/30 lighting rule should be followed.

All outdoor play should be suspended with appropriate evacuation whenever the lightning strike to thunder clap count is under 30 seconds. Furthermore, play should not resume until thunder has not been present for 30 consecutive minutes.

On site evacuation is only permitted in fully enclosed buildings. If such building is not available, all players should evacuate to vehicles.

See article entitled Lightning Safety for more information.

In the event of tornado warning, all outdoor play must be suspended with appropriate evacuation and shelter instructions as follows: (insert instructions)


Sports Injury Care

Injury Prevention

Liability risk can be reduced by implementing the following guidelines:

Serious Injuries: Head, neck, and back injuries; fractures; and injuries that caused the player to lose consciousness are among a class of injuries that you cannot and should not try to treat yourself. You should alert EMS immediately if the player has lost consciousness or has impaired memory, dizziness, ringing in the ears, blood or fluid draining from the nose or ears, or blurry vision. If you suspect that a player has a spine injury, joint dislocation, or bone fracture, do not remove any of the player’s equipment unless you have to do so to provide life-saving CPR.

Pre Participation Screening:  Prior to participation, all players should submit our approved Medical Clearance Form (see that is fully completed and signed by an appropriate health care professional. In order to participate, all players must be cleared by an appropriate health care professional for full participation in the sport without restrictions.

Flexibility: All coaches should require the team to engage in standard flexibility and stretching exercises prior to all practices and games.

Conditioning: Coaches should be encouraged to instruct on and implement a reasonable and age appropriate conditioning program.

Strength Training: Coaches should be encouraged to instruct on and implement a reasonable and age appropriate strength training program. (Note: strength training with weights is normally not encouraged until players reach age 12.)


Concussion / Brain Injury

Baseline Neurocognitive Testing (Optional)

It is recommended that each athlete take a baseline neurocognitive test prior to the start of conditioning / training camp. In the event of a concussion, this baseline test will assist the health care professionals in making return to play decisions.

Identify Suspected Cases of Concussions

The highest medical authority at a practice or game is the person who is in the best position to diagnose a suspected concussion and to make the call. The presence of (or immediate access to) a medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), athletic trainer (AT), physician’s assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP), or paramedic (PM) trained in concussion recognition is ideal. However, in cases where medical professionals are not present or immediately available, a person should be present who is at least EMT certified or is currently certified in Red Cross Community First Aid or the equivalent.

Signs observed by parents, guardians, or sports staff: appears dazed or stunned; is confused about the assignment or position; forgets instructions; is unsure of game, score, or opponent; moves clumsily; answers questions slowly; loses consciousness (even briefly); shows behavior or personality changes; can’t recall events prior to hit or fall; and can’t recall events after hit or fall.

Symptoms reported by player: headache or pressure in the head; nausea or vomiting; balance problems or dizziness; double or blurry vision; sensitivity to light; sensitivity to noise; feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy; concentration or memory problems; confusion; or does not “feel right”.

What to do: If athletes report or exhibit one or more of the signs listed above or say they “just don’t feel right” after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, they may have a concussion.

Danger signs which require immediate medical attention: one pupil larger than the other; drowsiness or inability to wake up; headache that gets worse and does not go away; weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination; repeated vomiting or nausea; slurred speech; convulsions or seizures; inability to recognize people or places; increasing confusion, restlessness, or agitation; unusual behavior, loss of consciousness (even brief). If one or more of these danger signs occur after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body: call 9-1-1 or transport the athlete immediately to the emergency room.

Athlete Removal by Sports Official and Re-Entry into Contest

When an athlete has been removed from a contest by a sports official due to signs or symptoms of a concussion, the only persons who should clear an athlete’s reentry are a medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), physician’s assistant (PA), registered nurse practitioner (NP), paramedic (PM), or athletic trainer (AT).  If none of these are present on-site at the contest, the athlete shall not return to that contest or any subsequent contest until cleared.

If a Concussion is Suspected, the Following Actions Should Be Taken

  • Remove the athlete from play – if any of the signs and symptoms are observed, remove the athlete from play. When in doubt, sit them out!
  • Make sure the athlete is evaluated by an MD or DO who is experienced in evaluating concussions.Let the professionals judge the severity.
  • Inform the athlete’s parents / guardians and provide them with the CDC fact sheeton “Concussions for parents” to help them monitor the athlete for signs and symptoms:
  • Keep the athlete out of play the day of the injury AND until an MD or DO experienced in evaluating concussion says it’s OK for the athlete to return.  The MD or DO must provide written medical clearance and the athlete should be asystematic at rest and with exertion.  The MD or DO should require the athlete to follow a progressive return to play protocol.  Here is a link to the CDC’s progressive return to play protocol:
  • The AYF/AYC Resume Participation Medical Clearance Form or similar form should be completed, signed by an MD or DO, and returned before a player suspected of having a concussion will be allowed to return to play.

Reduce Full Contact During Practices

Definition: “Full contact” includes both “thud” and “live action”. “Thud” is a drill that is run at assigned speed through the moment of contact, with no pre assigned winner, where contact remains above the waist and players remain on feet and a quick whistle ends the drill. “Live action” is a drill that is run at game like conditions and is the only time where a player may be taken to the ground.

Prohibition on full-speed head-on tackling or blocking drills in which players are lined up more than three yards apart.

Full contact during practices should be limited to 60 to 90 minutes a week and no more than 30 minutes a day.

It is understood that pre-season workouts will likely have more full contact to teach the fundamentals of tackling. However, as the season progresses, less and less time should be devoted to full contact. 

All administrators and staff should read Football/Cheer Brain Injury/Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program. for additional details including suggested training videos (ex: CDC Head Up Training and Seahawks tackling) and pre season handouts which may be required by state law.


Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) 

What Is A Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?

A SCA occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating causing the victim to collapse. This cuts off blood supply to the brain and other organs. SCA is not a heart attack. Persons suffering a SCA, if not treated immediately, will die. SCA is the #2 cause of death for persons under age 25 and the #1 killer of student athletes during exercise.

Cardiac Conditions And Their Potential Consequences

  • Structural Heart Disease – whether present from birth or develops later
  • Electrical Heart Disease – problem with heart’s electrical system which controls heartbeat
  • Situational Causes – persons with normal hearts and electrical systems but which are hit in the chest (i.e. commitio cordis) or develop a heart infection

Increased Risk Factors Of SCA

  • If a biological parent, sibling, or child suddenly and unexpectedly died before age 50.
  • Specific family history of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Long QT Syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Brugada Syndrome, Arrythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD), or other rhythm problems of the heart.
  • Family members with unexplained feinting, seizures, drownings or near drownings, or car accidents.
  • Athletes with these risk factors should discuss with their family physician to see if additional testing is needed and should await feedback before proceeding with any athletic activity.

Signs And Symptoms Of SCA

  • Chest pain and discomfort
  • Unexplained fainting, near fainting, or seizure
  • Repeated dizziness or lighheadedness
  • Unexplained tiredness, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Unusual fast or racing heartbeat
  • Fluttering heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  • Athletes with any of these symptoms should immediately alert an adult and discuss with their family physician to see if additional testing is needed and should await feedback before returning to activity. The coach, athletic trainer, and/or other administrators should be alerted of any diagnosed conditions.

Best Practices For Removal Of An Athlete As A Result Of Certain Events

Any youth athlete who faints, passes out, or has any other SCA symptoms before, during, or after an athletic activity MUST be removed from the activity.

Steps For Returning An Athlete To Athletic Activity

Before returning to activity, the athlete must be seen by a health care professional and a written clearance must be provided to the sports organization.

What To Do In The Event Of A Cardiac Emergency – The Chain Of Survival

Link 1: Early recognition 

  • Collapsed and unresponsive, gasping, gurgling, snorting, labored breathing noises, or seizure like activity.
  • Access child for responsiveness. Does the child answer when you call his/her name?
  • If no, attempt to find a pulse. If no pulse is felt or if you are unsure, call any on site emergency responders for help and ask someone to dial 911 and follow dispatcher’s instructions.

Link 2: Early CPR

  • Begin CPR immediately.
  • Since on average it takes EMS 12 minutes to arrive, every minute of delay decreases the chance of survival by 10%.
  • Hands on CPR involves fast and continual two inch chest compressions, about 100 a minute.

Link 3: Early defibrillation by use of an AED

  • If an AED is available, send someone to get it immediately. Turn it on, attach it to the child, and follow the simple instructions.
  • If an AED is not available, continue CPR until EMS arrives.

Link 4: Early advanced life support and cardiovascular care

  • Continue CPR until EMS arrives

Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs)

AEDs are portable, user friendly devices that automatically diagnose potentially life threatening heart rhythms and deliver an electric shock to restore normal rhythm.  Anyone can operate an AED, regardless of training. Simple instructions direct the process and AEDs are designed to only deliver a shock to victims whose hearts need to be restored to a healthy rhythm. A rescuer cannot accidentally hurt a victim with an AED.

Depending on the facility type, an AED may or may not be nearby. Many but not all schools have AEDs and some private facilities have them. Be aware of the location of any AED at your facility or at other facilities when visiting.

All administrators and staff should read Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risk Management Program for more information on SCA and the videos and handouts that may be required by state law.


Avoiding Heat Illness and Heat Stroke Death

Important Heat Stroke Facts

  • According to NATA, exertional heat stroke death is 100% preventable when whole body ice immersion or cold water dousing is started within 10 minutes of collapse.
  • Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) has replaced heat index as the new standard in decision making about cancellation, postponement, and practice modification.
  • While WBGT meters can cost over $100, Weather FX has a smart phone app available for 99 cents that provides a mathematical approximation of WBGT.
  • Immersion tubs don’t need to be expensive or stainless steel medical grade. They can be a cheap Rubbermaid container or a plastic kiddie pool.


WBGT Activity Guidelines and Rest-Break Guidelines

Under 82.0 Normal Activities: Provide at least three separate rest breaks each hour with a minimum duration of three minutes each during the workout.

82.0 to 86.9  Use discretion for intense or prolonged exercise and watch at-risk players carefully. Provide at least three separate rest breaks each hour with a minimum duration of four minutes each.

87.0 to 89.0 Maximum practice time is two hours. For Football: players are restricted to helmet, shoulder pads, and shorts during practice, and all protective equipment must be removed during conditioning activities. If the WBGT rises to this level during practice, players may continue to work our wearing football pants without changing to shorts. For all Sports: Provide at least four separate rest breaks each hour with a minimum duration of four minutes each.

90.0 to 92.0 Maximum practice time is one hour. For Football: no protective equipment may be worn during practice, and there may be no conditioning activities. For All Sports: There must be 20 minutes of rest breaks distributed throughout the hour of practice.

Over 92.0 No outdoor workouts. Delay practice until a cooler WBGT level is reached. 


Know The Signs Of Both Early And Serious Heat Exertional Stroke

  • It is a myth that athletes always stop sweating during heat stroke.
  • The early sign and symptoms are headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting with a rectal thermometer temperature of 104 F or lower. Treatment includes immediately moving athlete from hot environment to an air-conditioned room or shade, lying the athlete on the ground and raising legs by 12 inches, re-hydration and by cooling with ice towels, misting fan, or cold water immersion. Recurrences can be prevented by proper hydration prior to, during, and after practice and by heat acclimatization. The athlete should not return to practice without a written release from a medical doctor.
  • More serious signs and symptoms include central nervous system dysfunction such as clumsiness, stumbling, collapse, loss of consciousness, exhaustion, confusion, mood changes, aggressiveness, disorientation, seizure, coma or a rectal temperature of greater than 104° F Athletes exhibiting these signs and symptoms should be considered to be suffering from exertional heat stroke and must be treated immediately to prevent major organ damage or death. Athlete should undergo a gradual return-to-play protocol under the supervision of a doctor and not return to play without a written release signed by a medical doctor. Any predisposing factors should also be identified and remedied prior to return to play.


When Serious Heat Exertional Stroke Is Suspected

  • Simultaneously call EMS and start immediate rapid cooling on site.
  • The equipment needed is an immersion tub, water, and ice with trained staff for rapid set up.
  • If ice water bath is not available, apply ice to neck, armpits, and groin and rotate ice water soaked towels to all other parts of the body.
  • It is helpful to have a rectal thermistor (thermometer attached to a long flexible cord) during cold water immersion. But don’t let failure to have one stop the cold water immersion if heat stroke is suspected.
  • Continue cooling until EMS arrives.

All administrators and staff should read Guide to Preventing Heat Stroke Death in Youth Tackle Football for additional important details including the differences between heat syncope, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and exertional heat stroke; the fundamentals of preventing heat illness; proper hydration; and heat acclimatization.


Emergency Action Plan

Pre Injury Planning

 Emergency Phone List:

EMS: 911

Police: 911

Fire: 911

Water Emergency:   ______________________

Gas Emergency: _________________________

Electricity Emergency: _____________________


Site Map: See attached in Appendix. (Note: should include a detailed map of all fields, parking areas, buildings, streets, as well as symbols for emergency access points for EMS, first aid stations, AED’s, fire extinguishers, and utility disconnect or shut off points. The exact name and address of the facility should be listed as well as the names of the closest roads and intersections. The site map should be kept with all first aid kits.)


First Aid Kit:

A first aid kit should be available at all practice and game locations.

Each coach should keep a fully stocked first aid kit in his vehicle at all times.


Ice or Cold Packs:

Access to ice or cold packs should be available at all practice and game locations.


Cold Water Emersion Tub:

A cold water immersion tub should be available at all practices and games. The tub can be an inexpensive Rubbermaid container or kiddie pool.


First Aid and CPR Training:

In the absence of a physician and or ambulance on site for practice or game, the minimum requirement should be the presence of an individual who is EMT Certified, is currently certified in Red Cross Community First Aid and Safety or its equivalent.


Emergency Information and Medical Consent Forms:

Each coach should keep either a hard copy or electronic copy with them at all times in the event emergency treatment is required.


Post Injury Planning

Assess Injury And Treat Accordingly: Staff members should assess each injury and treat accordingly.

First Aid: When administering first aid, the staff member should not exceed the scope of his or her training. The purpose of first aid is to merely stabilize the situation by preventing it from becoming worse. Once the situation has been stabilized, all other treatment should be provided by a medical professional.

Medical Emergency: In the event of a medical emergency, EMS 911 should be called if immediate attention is necessary. The site map should be referenced when speaking to EMS so that clear instructions can be provided about the location of the facility and the best access point.

Emergency Information and Medical Consent Form: This form should be given to EMS upon arrival so that they will be aware of any preexisting medical conditions and allergies.

Notification of Parents: Parents should be notified immediately is there is a treatable injury.

Notification of Risk Management Officer: The RMO should be notified of all injuries so that he/she can document the injury and provide Accident insurance claim form to parent or guardian.

Return to Play: Once a player has suffered an injury that requires medical treatment by a qualified health care professional, the decision regarding the appropriate time to return to play should be made by the qualified health care professional. The coach should not put pressure on the player to return too early and the instructions of the qualified health care professional should be honored.  See AYF/AYC rules for form entitled AYF Doctor’s Resume Participation Consent Form (  As regards concussions, only a MD or DO can sign the Resume Participation Consent Form.


Owned/Leased Facilities (Optional)

(Note: select and or delete as appropriate.)

Liability risk can be reduced by implementing the following guidelines for all fields that are either owned or controlled under long term lease (use of fields under short term permit requires fewer duties):

Design and Layout: Facilities should be in compliance with all local and state building codes, sports governing body requirements, and standards set by sports facility architects.

Adequate and Appropriate: Facilities should be adequate and appropriate for their usage in terms of size, configuration, and quality.

Controlled Access:  Facilities should control access to eliminate or limit the usage by unauthorized persons and trespassers.  Examples:

  • Fencing with gates locked during off season.
  • Post signage that states: “Unauthorized Use Prohibited. Violators Will Be Prosecuted”
  • Periodic staff patrols should be made before hours and after hours and during off season. Upon detection of unauthorized use, police should be notified and violators will be prosecuted.


Inspection, Maintenance, and Repair:

The following schedules should be maintained by the designated parties:

Daily During Season:

  • Rest Rooms (to be performed by designated staff)
  • Sweeping, mopping, surface cleaning, and general sanitation
  • Replacement of supplies such as toilet tissue and soap
  • Verify that all toilets, urinals, and sinks operate properly
  • Concession Areas (to be performed by concession staff)
  • Sweeping, mopping, surface cleaning, trash removal, and general sanitation
  • Parking and Spectator Areas And Routes To And From (to be performed by staff)
  • Police and remove trash, glass, rocks, hypodermic needles, fallen tree branches, etc.
  • Police and verify bleachers are in good condition
  • Police and verify safety railings in good condition
  • Police and verify safety fencing and netting in good condition
  • Police and correct any holes or depressions
  • Police and correct any raised areas or cracks in sidewalks
  • Outdoor Fields (to be performed by staff)
  • Verify all lighting is operating properly and correct any burned out bulbs or misdirected lights.
  • Police and correct for trash, glass, rocks, hypodermic needles, fallen tree branches, etc.
  • Police and correct all fences for damaged posts, holes, protruding points, etc.
  • Police and correct any holes or depressions on field
  • Police and correct all sprinkler heads for breakage, settling, or raised elevation.
  • Police and verify that all field lines have been clearly marked
  • Gates should be opened for emergency access to fields
  • No equipment should be left on ground close to playing field. Helmets on ground are the cause of numerous injuries.
  • The edge of the playing field must be at least 6 feet from trees, walls, fences, and cars.
  • Storage sheds and facilities are locked.
  • The playground area, including ground surface and equipment, is in good condition.


Weekly During Season:

  • Fields (to be performed by designated staff)
  • Mow fields
  • Restore lines as needed

Seasonal: (to be performed by safety committee and board of directors)

During the off season, planning and completion of necessary modifications, repairs, and maintenance to field surfaces, parking surfaces, spectator area surfaces, bleachers, fencing, lights, electrical systems, etc.


Responsibility and Documentation:

After the inspection, maintenance, and repair schedules have been completed, individual   responsibilities should be clearly communicated to administrators, staff, and any independent contractors. The RMO should be responsible for monitoring and quality control. When hazards are discovered, they should be immediately reported to the RMO and addressed.  The RMO should keep records documenting all maintenance and repairs.




 Liability risk can be reduced by implementing the following guidelines:

Purchase and Use of Equipment: When purchasing new equipment and using existing equipment, keep in mind that it should be used for its intended purpose as prescribed by the manufacturer. Review all manufacturer specs on intended use, appropriate age group, capabilities, and limitations. Equipment should comply with all standards of governing body, sports organization, and NOCSAE.

Equipment Modification: Never modify equipment as this may void the manufacturer’s warranty and shift liability to our sports organization. As a general rule, only the manufacturer’s representative should modify equipment. However, some equipment was meant to be modified to meet certain needs such as fitting. In these circumstances, only modify according to the original manufacturer’s instructions.

Inspection: The sports organization equipment manager should inventory and inspect all equipment in the preseason and replace all equipment on an as needed basis. The equipment manager should issue required equipment to all teams. Athletes and coaches should inspect all equipment prior to each practice and game. Upon discovery of a defect, equipment should be taken out of service. If repairs are not possible, a spare should be available.

All equipment, whether team or player provided, should be inspected prior to each game for condition and/or fit.

Required Football Equipment:

  • Shoulder pads: Body padding should not extend beyond the tip of the shoulder; the pads should fit snugly in the neck area when the arms are extended overhead.
  • Helmet: The helmet should fit snugly around the head and in the jaw section; the head should be in contact with the crown suspension when the front edge is approximately 1 inch (2.5cm) above the eyebrow.
  • Clothing: The jersey should fit close to the body and should always be tucked into the pants to hold the shoulder pads in place; the pants should hug the body to keep the thigh and knee guards in place.
  • Mouth guard: The mouth guard should fit properly.
  • Girdle pads: The hip pads should cover the point of the hip and give proper protection to the lower spine.
  • Thigh and kneepads: Thigh and kneepads should be the proper size and must be inserted.
  • Shoes: Cleats should be inspected regularly to ensure even wear and stability; proper width is very important; the upper should never overrun the outsole.
  • Fitting Of Equipment: Coaches and managers should verify for making sure that all equipment fits properly. Improperly fitting equipment or improper modification can result in liability.
  • Maintenance and Repair: Maintenance and repair of equipment should be undertaken on a routine basis. Maintenance is defined as the ordinary upkeep of equipment such as cleaning and tightening screws. Repair is defined as the replacement of worn or broken parts or correcting major problems. Maintenance and repair should only be undertaken by a properly qualified person who follows the written guidelines and specifications of the manufacturer. Whenever in doubt, it’s best to transfer the liability risk to a manufacturer’s representative.

Reconditioning: Reconditioning is an attempt to restore equipment to its like new condition.

It is always safest to transfer the liability risk of reconditioning to a reputable reconditioning business that is approved by the manufacturer. Reconditioning of football helmets requires NOCSAE recertification and the appropriate NOCSAE seal affixed by the reconditioners inside the helmet.  Currently, only 21 equipment reconditioners and 4 helmet manufacturers are licensed by NOCSAE to recertify to NOCSAE standard.

Replacement:  Equipment should be replaced per manufacturer’s guidelines. Such replacements should be planned and budgeted for well in advance. A certain percentage of equipment should be replaced each year in a regular cycle to avoid wide variations in the age and quality of equipment.  All football helmets 10 years old or older should be replaced.

Record Keeping: Written documentation should be maintained for all repairs and reconditioning for each piece of equipment.


Autos And Transportation Of Participants

  • Group Transportation of Participants: (note: select and/or delete from the following options)
  • All group transportation of participants whether in a single vehicle or multiple vehicles should be prohibited.
  • Any group transportation of participants whether in a single vehicle or multiple vehicles should be authorized in writing by the RMO.
  • Prior to authorizing group transportation, the RMO should get written consent from all drivers to run a motor vehicle record check with satisfactory results received.
  • Driver disqualification criteria should be as follows:
    • During past 5 years: Any one of the following major violations: DUI, hit and run accidents, failure to report an accident, operating a vehicle under a suspended or revoked license, homicide/assault/felony arising from operation of a vehicle, reckless driving/speed contest/racing.
    • Preceding 3 years: two or more at fault accidents, three or more moving violations, or combination of two moving violations and one at fault accident.
  • The use of 12 -15 passenger vans for group transportation should be prohibited and approved vehicles include school buses, 7 passenger mini vans, and private passenger vehicles. (Note: SUV’s should be avoided due to tip over propensity.)
  • If 12 -15 passenger vans are to be used despite the warnings, the risk can be mitigated by taking the following steps:
    • Use a trained, experienced driver who is at least 21 years of age and not a student.
    • Although a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is not required to drive a 12 – 15 passenger van, it is preferable. If the driver does not have a CDL, he or she should be required to complete driver training which includes a road test.
    • All occupants including the driver should wear safety belts.
    • Limit night driving. Driver fatigue is the top cause of accidents.
    • If possible, move passengers and cargo forward of the rear axle and never place loads on the roof.
    • Make driver aware that overcorrecting after running off the road is another leading cause of accidents.
    • Check tires before every trip for both excessive wear and proper inflation per vehicle placard or owner’s manual. Many are surprised to learn that the typical recommended pressure for rear tires is much higher than front tires.
  • Authorized drivers driving school buses should comply with all required licensing and regulations including Commercial Driver’s License.
  • The driver and all passengers should wear seat belts. Staff should supervise to make sure youth are wearing seat belts.
  • The use of smart phones or texting by the driver while driving should be prohibited.
  • Only travel immediately “to and from” is permitted. Drivers should not be permitted to run errands or make unnecessary stops while in route.
  • Proof of Auto insurance should be provided for all vehicles used for group transportation with liability limits of at least $1,000,000 combined single limits or split limit equivalent.
  • The sports organization should carry Non Owned and Hired Auto Liability with a limit of at least $1,000,000.


  • Individual Staff Provided Transportation of Participants: (note: select and/or delete from the following options)
  • Staff provided local transportation of participants should be prohibited except under emergency situations.
  • Staff provided local transportation of participants is not authorized by the sports organization and is a matter between the staff member and the parent / guardian. This policy should be communicated to all parents / guardians via written memo prior to the start of the season. It is recommended that the staff member should get written permission from the parent / guardian before providing transportation.
  • Staff provided transportation of participants should be authorized only to the extent that the staff member is designated an approved driver by the RMO pending suitable motor vehicle record check and proof of Personal Auto Liability coverage in the amount of at least $500,000 combined single limits or its split limit equivalent. Drivers should provide written consent to have motor vehicle record run.
  • Driver disqualification criteria should be as follows:
    • During past 5 years: Any one of the following major violations: DUI, hit and run accidents, failure to report an accident, operating a vehicle under a suspended or revoked license, homicide/assault/felony arising from operation of a vehicle, reckless driving/speed contest/racing.
    • Preceding 3 years: two or more at fault accidents, three or more moving violations, or combination of two moving violations and one at fault accident.
  • The driver and all passengers should wear seat belts.
  • Smart phone usage or texting by the driver should not be permitted while driving.
  • The sports organization should carry Non Owned and Hired Auto Liability with a limit of at least $1,000,000.


  • Managing the Charter Bus Risk:

Follow these tips to reduce the risks of the use of charter buses which generally have a very low incidence of crashes but the severity potential can be high with multiple passengers suffering serious injuries and/or deaths:



Crime is defined as administrator/staff embezzlement, charging of personal expenses to sports organization account, and theft of cash/equipment.

To follow are precautions:

  • Avoid having multiple board members and/or officers who are closely related as this provides an opportunity for collusion.
  • Require joint signature of all checks.
  • Bank accounts should be reconciled monthly by someone who is not authorized to deposit or withdraw.
  • Credit card statements should be reviewed monthly by someone not authorized to use such credit cards.
  • Conduct an annual inventory of all equipment.
  • Collect checks instead of cash during fundraisers if possible.
  • For gate receipts always use tickets or a counter and verify numbers against cash intake.
  • For concession operations, always take a beginning and ending inventory prior to each event.
  • Create an audit committee to review all financial records, account statements, and equipment inventories on an annual basis.

Of course, Crime insurance should be purchased as some people will steal no matter what precautions are taken.


Other Risk Management Trainings (Optional)

Sports Anti-Violence Risk Management

Bleacher Risk Management

Parade Float Risk Management


Insurance Policies (Administrators Only-staff may skip this section)

The following insurance policies should be in force prior to the start of the first activity of the season as evidenced by proof of coverage documents on file with the appropriate administrator:

  • Accident: $100,000 medical limit minimum requirement
  • General Liability: $1,000,000 limit minimum requirement
  • Directors & Officers Liability: $1,000,000 limit minimum requirement
  • Crime: $25,000 minimum requirement
  • Equipment: Limit to be sufficient to cover the replacement cost value of all insured equipment.
  • Workers’ Compensation (optional: depending on if required by state law due to number of employees and/or uninsured subcontractors)
  • Business Auto (optional: depending on if title held for vehicles)
  • Property (optional: depending on if buildings are owned or if required under lease)

The Accident and General Liability policies should at least meet the minimum requirements as specified by AYF/AYC for the regional and national championships.

See AYF/AYC endorsed insurance plan:


Contractual Transfer of Liability (Administrators Only-staff may skip this section)

 Participant Registration Forms

The following participant registration forms should be completed and stored as directed:

  • Waiver / Release of Liability
    • Minor Waiver / Release for all athletes
    • Adult Waiver / Release for all staff
    • Should be maintained on file in either hard copy or cloud storage for at least 16 years.


  • Emergency Information and Medical Consent
    • For all athletes
    • The coach or manager should have access during all practices and games.
    • Precautions must be taken to keep this information confidential with access to others on a “need to know” basis only.

See for educational materials and sample forms for all of the above forms.


Other Important AYF / AYC Forms

  • Medical Clearance Form – see
  • Doctor’s Resume Participation Consent Form – see

 Facilities Leased From Others

Whenever facilities are leased from others:

  • Review article “Before You Sign the Sports Facility Lease Agreement”.
  • Consult with local attorney to review lease to make sure indemnification/hold harmless provision is fair per principles in above article.
  • Consult with your insurance agent to make sure your insurance policies/coverages are in compliance with lease requirements.


Outside Teams Visit and Tournament Hosting

Whenever you invite teams from outside your sports organization to play at your facilities or if you host a tournament at your facilities:

  • Review When Hosting Tournaments Transfer Risk to Visiting Teams
  • Consult with local attorney to draft a written tournament host agreement.
  • Insert a hold harmless / indemnification provision in your favor where visiting team assumes all third party liability if they are partially or wholly negligent.
  • Agreement to require visiting teams to provide evidence of the following in force policies with carriers rated at least A- by AM Best:
  • Accident Insurance with a medical limit of at least $25,000.
  • General Liability with an each occurrence limit of at least $1,000,000 and to name your sports organization as “Additional Insured”. Furthermore, such policy should not include an exclusion for “Athletic Participants”.
  • Consult with your insurance agent to make sure that hosting a tournament is covered by your own General Liability policy.


Use of Service Providers or Vendors

Whenever you use service providers or vendors (ex: umpire, concession, field maintenance, security, etc.):

  • Review article entitled “Collect Certificates of Insurance from Vendors”.
  • Consult with local attorney to draft a written service provider or vendor agreement. Or, if the service provider or vendor provides the agreement form, have it reviewed by your attorney.
  • Agreement should include a hold harmless / indemnification provision that is favorable to you where service provider or vendor assumes all third party liability if they are partially or wholly negligent.
  • Agreement to require service providers or vendors to provide evidence of the following in force policies with carriers rated by AM Best of at least A-, VII:
  • General Liability with an each occurrence limit of at least $1,000,000 and to name your sports organization as “Additional Insured”.
  • Optional: Workers’ Compensation insurance to comply with requirements under your state’s Workers Compensation laws.



A hard or electronic copy of this risk management program should be distributed to each administrator and staff member prior to the start of every season. Each should acknowledge in writing (wet or electronic signature) that they have received and carefully reviewed the entire program.  The sports organization should maintain documentation on an annual basis of the risk management plan that was distributed as well as the administrator and staff acknowledgements.  For tips on how to properly retain risk management documents for litigation purposes, see How to Easily Organize Sports Risk Management Docs in the Cloud.


Copyright © 1998-2023, Sadler & Company, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Revised 03/2023

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