Alabama on the Leading Edge with Coaching Education to Prevent Injuries
26 Jun, 2019By: Michael Popke
A new Alabama organization focused on better ways to train youth sports coaches is hoping to become a national model.
The Coach Safely Foundation was formed following the March enactment of Alabama’s Coach Safely Act — which reportedly is the first law of its kind to require all coaches of youth athletes 14 years and younger to complete an injury prevention and safety course to reduce the likelihood of players being injured during practices and competition.
The mandatory Coach Safely course can be taken online or at an on-site class. It covers the prevention and injury recognition of concussions, sudden cardiac arrest, heat and exertion illnesses, and trauma and overuse, as well as trains coaches about emergency action plans and equipment usage.
According to the law, parks and recreation associations, as well as sports associations, must keep a record of each individual coach’s course completion for the duration of their time as a coach. All volunteer coaches and personnel must complete the course within 30 days of becoming active, and Coach Safely maintains a comprehensive registry of every enrolled coach’s certification status.
What’s more, the course must be completed every year.
Jasper will be the first city in Alabama to enact the Coach Safely Act, according to the city’s Daily Mountain Eagle.
“What we are seeing is the fear of injury is starting to change the way we look at sports,” Jack Crowe, a longtime football coach and founder and chairman of the Coach Safely Foundation, said. “What parent would leave their child at the swimming pool with no lifeguard? That’s a simple answer. Now, take that same perspective to the football field, the soccer field and every other place where a young child is competing. We are beginning to realize there is a risk. There is lot to be concerned about, but nothing to be afraid of as long as the right things are done. The number one right thing to do is to have a trained coach.”
Alabama is making more youth sports news, too: Medical professionals at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have developed a new tinted visor for football helmets that will allow kids with medical-related light sensitivity to participate.
“Many kids who have severe light sensitivity want to be like other kids, and that means many want to be part of a team playing outdoor sports,” Kathy Weise, a professor at UAB’s School of Optometry and director of UAB’s Eye Care Pediatric Optometry Services said in a news release issued by the university. “However, the light sensitivity that kids with certain health conditions experience can be very significant. We knew we could help maximize comfort, safety and access to play for more kids with special conditions.”
Weise helped develop BlazerVision, a partnership between UAB Athletics, the School of Optometry and the Department of Ophthalmology. UAB’s team of eye doctors, along with its lead football team physician and athletic trainer, helped develop a list of specific vison and health conditions that may benefit from adding a tinted visor in a football helmet. Then they pitched it to the medical director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
“We haven’t seen tinted visors meet regulation standards in sports like football because, although they may seem practical, it may be harder to check the face or the eyes quickly through the visor, or factors like weather may cause the visor to fog up,” Weise said. “The tinted visors aren’t for everyone. However, knowing that there are a variety of eye and health conditions that could benefit from having a tinted visor, this is a great first step in keeping these eager kids playing sports that they love, just like their peers.”
This spring, the AHSAA began allowing physician-recommended tinted visors to be worn by athletes with “inherited and/or congenital eye conditions that limit useful vision in daylight or bright-light environments,” according to the university.