If your child is enrolled to play club rep soccer, most likely the people who are in charge of the team are volunteers (coach, assistant coach and manager). Sometimes only one person is in charge.There is still evidence that winning the division and being promoted to the next is still the number one reason club teams exist, while player development is secondary.
How does this reflect on dealing with injuries?
If a player goes down with an injury, in many cases the traditional 'suck it up' is used and play continues as usual. Players will take this as part of the winning philosophy, but who is winning if injuries are mistreated, misdiagnosed, or simply ignored in order to win a game? Not a good scene if you are a parent on the sideline, unless you do prescribe to that coach's philosophy.
Not all clubs have the means to provide a professional physiotherapist or athletic therapist.
Because of that, a club should make sure at least one person on the assigned coaching staff has taken a basic first aid course. Ideally, all should have fist aid credentials, and although almost every coach feels he has to be able to do everything, one area to be very clear about is who is to look after the injuries and the injured player.
In a club team scenario, it seems logical that the manager should look after any injuries during practice or game, leaving the coaching and training to the coach.
Thus, if a player goes down and the referee calls someone onto the field to look at the player, it should NOT be the coach. Most coaches have too much invested emotionally in the game and are not OBJECTIVE enough to properly determine if the player should continue or seek further assessment.
Once the player is removed from the field of play he should be allowed to play ONLY when they can fully use the injured limb or area (like an eye) completely and WITHOUT pain. (For example, if the player has taken a knock on the thigh they must be able to do a full squat, sprint and jump with NO pain before re-entering the game) If the player has been injured to the point that a professional sports health care provider has been consulted, the player should ONLY return to play with the written permission of a sports health care practitioner, such as a sports physiotherapist, athletic therapist or physician.
The player should also have been given instructions on how to GRADUALLY return to his sport, meaning that returning to full action in a competitive game is not the ideal. The return to play could take a matter of days, weeks or months, depending on the severity and type of injury.
(During practice, the injured player can wear a special coloured pinnie to earmark for the rest of the team that he is injured. The player cannot be tackled in a practice session. To avoid any type of advantage he can be labeled to always play for the team in ball possession, or be used in some other type of non-contact fashion.)
In summary the coach should never pressure the player to return to play. Pressure can come in many forms and include mocking the player for being 'soft', threaten to bench the player once they do return, mention that the team would stand a much better chance of winning if only he was playing. (This type of pressure can also come from the player's home, in which case the coach must be alert to assess the player properly.
It is important that parents and coaches are supportive in allowing the player to return in a gradual fashion and to follow the guidelines outlined by the health care professional.
At USC Academy a player's wellness is paramount.
Treating every injury with the necessary attention will teach a player that the organization he/she plays under has invested interest in their players and their health. It also teaches a player self awareness, to be responsible towards their body and realizing that every injury needs to be taken seriously. Following basic principles of injury prevention and treatment goes a long way in a player's life.