Risk Management Program for Local Sports Organizations

Sample Sports Risk Management Awareness Training Program And Best Practices


(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 19 page document will likely be reduced to under 12 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 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 outings or back yard cookouts.
  • Supervisors to Participants Ratio: 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 should be careful not to personally injure participants during practice instruction.


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

Basic coach education through coach training course (insert name of course if applicable)

Sport-specific techniques:

  • Coaches should follow accepted practices for teaching sport related techniques.
  • Coaches should receive education on latest techniques as follows:
    • Pre-season coaches workshop
    • Sports specific coach training course (insert name of course if applicable)
    • Special emphasis should be made on the following more hazardous areas of the sports: (insert more hazardous areas of applicable.)
  • 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


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)


Avoiding Heat Illness

  • Educate all staff on aspects of heat illness (Note: “Heat Illness: Avoidance and Preventioncan satisfy this requirement)
  • Educate players on the importance of pre-activity hydration.
  • Practices or games may need to be postponed and rescheduled to avoid peak temperatures.
  • Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is the new standard for decision making. Be sure to either have a WGBT meter of use weather FX app.
  • Practices may be modified to shorten their duration, intensity, and equipment usage.
  • Mandatory fluid breaks should be scheduled during practice and games.
  • Water and/or sports drinks should be readily available.
  • Game rules can be modified to allow unlimited substitutions.
  • Follow governing body regulations on heat illness prevention.
  • Have cold water immersion tub available along with water source and ice.
  • The early signs and symptoms of heat stroke 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.
  • More serious signs and symptoms of heat stroke 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.
  • If a player is suffering from symptoms of heat stroke, immediately call EMS and start cold-water immersion before EMS arrives.
  • Any athlete suffering from heat stroke should not return to activity without a medical clearance form signed by an MD or DO.


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: http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/pdfs/custom/headsupconcussion_fact_sheet_for_parents.pdf
  • 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: https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/return_to_sports.html
  • A Medical Clearance 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.


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.


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 (Optional): Prior to participation, all players should submit our approved Medical Clearance Form that is fully completed and signed by an approved healthcare professional. In order to participate, all players should be cleared by their approved healthcare professional for full participation in the sport without restrictions. (Note: The definition of approved healthcare professional varies per state law and could be an MD, DO, Physician’s Assistant or Athletic Trainer.)
  • 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.)


Emergency Action Plan

Pre-injury planning

Emergency Phone List:

  • EMS 911
  • Police 911
  • Fire 911
  • Water Emergency: (insert)
  • Gas Emergency: (insert)
  • Electricity Emergency: (insert)

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

First Aid and CPR Training: Each coach and manager should provide documentation that they have successfully completed a Red Cross certified first aid and CPR training course within the past three years.

 (Note: While first aid training and CPR may be a standard according to some authorities, there is not widespread compliance within most non-scholastic, volunteer-run youth sports programs. You should not list this provision unless you intend to fully comply.)

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:

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: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 pre-existing 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 doctor, the decision regarding the appropriate time to return to play should be made by an approved healthcare professional (ex: definition varies per state law but could be MD, DO, or Physician’s Assistant.) The coach should not put pressure on the player to return too early and the instructions of healthcare professional should be honored.


Facilities (Optional: Only If Facilities Are Owned Or Leased)

(Note: select and/or delete as appropriate.)

Liability risk can be reduced by implementing the following guidelines:

  • 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 as follows:
    • 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 should 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 designated staff)
  • Sweeping, mopping, surface cleaning, trash removal, and general sanitation
  • Parking and Spectator Areas and Routes To and From (to be performed designated 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
  • Outdoor Fields (to be performed by designated 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 playing surfaces for defects.
    • Police and correct any holes or depressions on field
    • Police and correct all sprinkler heads for breakage, settling, or raised elevation.
    • Player benches clean and free of debris.
    • Police and verify that all field lines and boxes have been clearly marked.

Weekly During Season:

  • Outdoor Fields (to be performed by designated staff):
    • Mow fields
    • Edge grass areas.
    • Restore lines as needed

Seasonal: (to be performed by RMO, risk management 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, bleacher 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.


Equipment (Optional Depending On The Sport)

(Note: Select and/or delete as appropriate.)

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 must 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 defect, equipment should be taken out of service. If repairs are not possible, a spare should be available.

The following equipment should be inspected prior to each game for condition/fit:

  • Player-provided Equipment:  (Note: list equipment)
  • Team-provided equipment:  (Note: list equipment)

Fitting of Equipment: Coaches and managers are responsible 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 may require NOCSAE recertification.

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.

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 (Optional)

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:


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 sports organization administrator:

  • Accident
  • General Liability
  • Directors & Officers Liability
  • Crime
  • Equipment
  • Workers’ Compensation (optional: depending on if required by state law due to number of employees)
  • 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 standards as specified under the following publications found under the Risk Management section at www.sadlersports.com:

  • Sports Organization Insurance Coverage Checklist
  • Recreation Department Insurance Coverage Checklist (only applies if sports organization is municipal recreation department)
  • Higher limits and standards may be required by your field/facility owner, governing body, or sanctioning body.


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 www.sadlersports.com/riskmanagement for educational materials and sample forms for all of the above forms.

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.

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