Front Office

Everything You Need to Know About Concussion Training for Coaches

By Melissa Wickes
August 18, 2022
4 min

Concussion training for coaches is an important step toward concussion prevention in youth sports. 

Why is concussion prevention in youth sports so important? 

Well, for one, a concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury. In the short term, concussions can cause memory and concentration programs, mood swings, personality changes, headache, fatigue, drowsiness, and dizziness for several weeks to months. If untreated, these issues can persist much longer. 

This responsibility is huge for coaches and other leaders in youth sports because, amongst American children and adolescents, sports and recreational activities contribute to more than  21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. 

To ensure your organization is doing everything it can to prevent these brain injuries, educate yourself on adequate concussion training for coaches and implement a concussion training program that works and keeps coaches constantly informed. Here’s what you need to know about concussion training for coaches:

Concussion Training for Coaches

There are a variety of courses you and your staff can take for concussion training; many are available online for free. The HEADS UP to Youth Sports online training program presented by CDC Train is an accessible way to train coaches, parents, sports officials, athletic trainers, and others in concussion safety and is available free of charge.

Each course aims to help those involved in youth sports foster a safe environment for young athletes to stay healthy, active, and thriving both on and off the field—whether you’re a coach, trainer, parent, or someone else involved in the game. 

The course begins with a pre-assessment to give insight into what sort of youth sports program you are involved in and your current knowledge of concussions. The training will offer tools and training to help you lower the chance of concussion, spot possible concussions, protect athletes from further injury, and help athletes recover well. 

You can access each course here:

For the full guide to protecting your athletes from concussions and other injuries, download this free risk management guide.

Important Steps in Concussion Safety

No matter what concussion safety program you choose to go with—and different states may have different approved programs—by the end of the program, according to the Center for Disease Control, coaches should be able to:

  • Explain what a concussion is and the potential consequences of one
  • Identify at least three concussion signs and symptoms
  • Describe the steps for returning to activity after a concussion
  • Create a plan for how to help keep athletes safe from concussion

Concussion Safety Resources by Sport

The CDC HEADS UP to Youth Sports Concussion Program also offers digestible brain injury prevention tips specific to certain sports. While a concussion can happen in any youth sport, a Journal of Pediatrics research team found that boys’ football, girls’ soccer, and boys’ ice hockey have the highest concussion rates per 10,000 athlete exposures. 

It’s no surprise that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends expanding the availability of non-contact hockey and football programs.

Here are some tips from the CDC that can help you prevent concussions in those higher risk sports: 

Concussion Prevention in Football

Facts about youth football:

  • Almost half of concussions in high school football occur during running plays.
  • Almost two-thirds of concussions in high school football are caused by tackling.
  • More than half of all concussions among high school football defensive players are sustained by linebackers.
  • 46% of concussions among high school football offensive players are sustained by running backs.

Concussion prevention tips:

  • Teach athletes proper techniques to avoid hits to the head.
  • Limit contact in practices—like eliminating full speed head-on blocking,eliminating tackling drills where players are more than three yards apart, and limiting practice time that includes scrimmages and full-speed drills.
  • Keep a close eye on athletes during running plays—especially running backs.

Concussion Prevention in Soccer

Facts about youth soccer:

  • Girls have higher rates of concussion in high school soccer than boys.
  • They most commonly occur when an athlete is heading the ball.

Concussion prevention tips:

  • No heading for any athletes age 10 and younger, per US Soccer recommendations.
  • Leading is limited to practices only for athletes 11-13, per U.S. Soccer recommendations.
  • Teach athletes ways to lower the chances of concussions, like avoiding collisions.
  • Ensure athletes avoid unsafe actions.

Concussion Prevention in Ice Hockey 

Facts about youth ice hockey:

  • Concussions are 13 times more likely to happen during competitions than practice in high school ice hockey.
  • Nearly two-thirds of concussions in high school ice hockey resulted from contact with other athletes.
  • Half of concussions in high school ice hockey are in athletes in the wing position.
  • About one-in-three concussions in high school ice hockey are a result of checks

Concussion prevention tips: 

  • Limit contact during practices.
  • Limit body checking in competition to athletes ages 15 and older, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Teach body-checking skills in practices only for athletes ages 13 and older.
  • Keep a close eye on the wing position.

For all youth sports, coaches should enforce the rules of the sport for fair play, safety, and sportsmanship. If the sport requires a helmet, coaches should ensure that the helmet fits well and is in good condition. Lastly, coaches should work with the game or event administrator to remove any tripping hazards and ensure that equipment has adequate padding and is in good condition.

If you’re looking for tips for preventing concussion specific to the youth sport you coach—like baseball, basketball, cheerleading, field hockey, lacrosse, softball, volleyball, wrestling, and bicycling—you can find them here. You can also download a variety of helpful fact sheets, posters, and information sheets about concussions that can help you better understand and inform your team about concussions.

For the full guide to protecting athletes in your youth sports organization, CLICK HERE.