SOP for a Player Down

Your team has just gone through its paces with a base running routine, and one of your players acts like he/she pulls up lame, hobbles over to a fence or bench, then finds himself/herself on the ground. He/she doesn’t rejoin the workout, nor are they actively looking around.

For just about 99 % of the coaching population in active jobs - paid and volunteers alike, that player will invariably sit there while life goes on. Little if any concern will be addressed, and even worse, a belligerent attitude of “walk it off” is common place.

On the other hand, that 1% of the coaching world will have the what forever to give proper attention to the following:

  • Perhaps that player pulled a muscle, feels dizzy, sprained an ankle.
  • Perhaps that player was just getting over a bout of the flu.
  • Perhaps that player didn’t get a good night sleep because of issues at home.
  • Perhaps that player is on medication currently.
  • Perhaps that player got injured at school or at home, and now it’s acting up.
  • Perhaps that player hasn’t been schooled in the proper way to prepare for competitive sports.
  • Perhaps that player’s nutrition isn’t up to par, nor has he/she been trained on the subject…
  • Perhaps that player’s maturity is not well suited for the sport and the level of competition.

I could list other reasons, but those should cover enough ground.

Now I know it’s impossible to know every detail of the players that a coach(s) are responsible for, and I know it’s difficult to read people sometimes. But regardless of the pool of players that a coach has to deal with, when a player goes down - for any reason, a club and its entire staff should have a plan to - deal with well being of the player by following a strict guide line of do this first, then do this second, then third … etc. Standing around watching some youngster bake in the sun and asking … “ hey, you ok kid?” is not the way to go. Nor is overstepping your authority by administering assistance when your not qualified to do so.

Every single club that I’ve been on ( not youth sports) we’ve had extensive meetings in what has to be done strictly by the book, step one, two, three and so forth. Here are some of those steps (customize your own as you see fit).

  • every single field member of the club had a guide that they had to sign for, itemizing their involvement in addressing any injured player, based on their position and qualifications.
  • every field coach was Red Cross certified in basic first aid and CPR
  • every member of the club had a medical card that was on the field in a secure binder that contained photographs, phone numbers, medical information, allergies, religious parameters if necessary, etc.
  • phone number for local hospitals, ambulance services, police, chaplains, and other data.
  • and last but not least a tape recorder and a snapshot camera with up to date film to record any and all events showing evidence of all involved following the rules set forth.

If all that I listed seems a waste of time and of no concern to those involved in the coaching of any level of baseball, think again. As part of our Code of Ethics, it’s part of our responsibility to be RESPONSIBLE for those under our charge - and, to be aware of the legal and social implications that orbit injured players.

I strongly suggest a solid plan for dealing with this issue prior to accepting any coaching job - paid or volunteer. Don’t be ambivalent to a player who is down, and don’t walk away thinking that things will take care of themselves.

Coach B.