Safety and Liability Issues In Sports Training

I think it’s a good idea to have CPR and First Aid training.  If something should happen, it’s good to know how to take control of the situation.  I had a player sprain an ankle in one session, so I was able to wrap it correctly with an ice pack and bandage until his dad came back to pick him up.  Plus, these things are good to know anyway, even if you aren’t going to coach.  And you never know when you might need to use CPR skills.

As for the injuries that might happen, most parents and players know what kinds of risks are involved with sports.  What you have to watch out for is any kind of horseplay on breaks when you are doing small groups.  If you just do single-player lessons, this isn’t an issue.  And even in the small group setting, the kids who are coming to the lessons are there to learn and are usually not the type to fool around.

As far as getting insurance, just do a search on Google for “liability insurance private sports coach” or something similar.  There are companies who offer policies.  Here are a couple links that I’ve come across:

Another thing that I’ve come across is parents dropping off their kid(s) for the lessons and then coming back to pick them up at the end of the hour.  I’ve never had a problem with that. The longer you do this, the more you get to know the parents and players, but you never really can be 100% sure that you’ll never be accused of something.

One idea to cover yourself is to have a video camera or your phone camera record your sessions in their entirety.  Just set the camera on the sideline or in a corner so it captures everything for the entire time of your training session.  Like I said, I’ve never had a problem with something serious like this and I've never heard anything like that from the other coaches I know, because most parents will hang around and watch you do the training.  But you have to decide for yourself what you want to do if you have parents drop their kids off for lessons.

At the very least, if you film the entire lesson, you'll have plenty of stuff to review with your athlete, which you should already be doing anyway.

Sports Psychology: How to help your players understand the mental game

Part of your lessons should be to give your players some training on how to use what's inside the ol' noggin.  

This can be anything from: how to get more confidence, how to keep calm during tense moments in games, or how to develop discipline.

I try to build these into the drills that I teach. A great example is how I constructed a free throw routine for basketball players.  I'm not only teaching the physical techniques of how to shoot free throws, I'm giving the players something way more powerful so they can control the pressure that is sometimes felt.

You can do this for whatever sport you coach.  But don't overload a new player when they are starting out with you, especially if they are new to your sport, or they are a younger player.

If they are more experienced, and especially if they are high school aged or older, it's something you definitely want to provide to them.

Required reading:  Sport Psychology for Coaches

I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.
— Ken Venturi, Hall Of Fame Golfer

"What skills should I coach?"

"What skills should I coach?"

I get this question from coaches just starting out.  For whichever sport you teach, you’ll have specific things you can do.  

You really don’t want to do too many things.  Once you and your players get going, you’ll see what each kid needs and you can spend however long you need on certain skills.

Each player will be different, so you’ll have to adapt to each one.  But when you start out, you can have a general set of drills that you can use for everyone.  Then you can pinpoint what each player needs and move on accordingly.  A lot of times, they already know what they need work on, so they’ll be looking for someone who can help them improve that skill.

There are a lot of great DVD’s and books with lots of drills for each sport on Amazon.  There are also a lot of different Facebook Groups of coaches who share drills and training info. Just search for them the next time you are on Facebook.    

In my full guide, I have a few links to websites that sell specialized sports training equipment. But you don’t need to start out with every piece of equipment - just the basics to get going.

Like I said before, you can do general all-around skill development, or focus on a couple aspects of your sport, like I did with basketball shooting and ball handling.  It’s up to you – it’s your business.  But realize that the parents and athletes are paying you, so you need to know your skills!

I like to work with one player at a time so I can focus on the needs of that player.  Sometimes I will work with 2 or 3 players (but no more than that), and I just adapt my individual drills for those 2-or-3-player groups.

 Also keep in mind, if you coach a sport that needs a gym, and you can only find one that charges a lot for you to use the court, you might have to do small groups (3 to 5 players, or more if you have somebody helping you) so you can make enough money to pay the rent and to keep some for yourself.  So that might dictate what you can coach and how you do it.

It's Not Only About "Winning"...

It’s Not Just About “Winning”, Or Even About The Sport Itself…

Nowadays, you might hear or read things about parents or “child welfare” type organizations who talk about “pushing kids too far” or “putting too much pressure on kids to win”.  And, there is a lot more talk these days about kids getting burnt out.

There are certain parents and instructors who do cause this to happen.  Just go to any little league game and you’ll see it – parents and coaches screaming at players and sometimes at each other.  But that’s not what this (sports training) is about, at least not for me and my athletes.

Like I said, I starting doing this because I wanted to help kids get better at a game they love.  I also like the idea of teaching kids to have goals and to overcome obstacles (not only in sports, but maybe in life, too).

Never once in my lessons with players or my conversations with parents have I said  anything about winning more games or anything like that.

What I do talk about when I first start working with a player is that I will help them to develop fundamental skills, as well as work with them to achieve certain goals they have in terms of the lessons (for basketball, this means becoming a better free throw shooter, getting good at dribbling, etc., and even how to be better mentally).

As an example, in my basketball lessons, I worked with a young girl who had problems with layups.  After only 20 minutes, I had her doing layups smoothly.

I stopped her and said to her: “I just saw you go from not being able to shoot layups on either side, to being able to do them on both sides (using her left hand and her right hand) with ease.  Now you know that you can get better at just about anything if you practice and work at it.”

Now, hopefully for the rest of her life, she realizes that if she has problems with something, or she comes across a tough situation (not just in basketball), she knows that she can work her way through it, even if it takes awhile.  That’s one of the many mindsets I like to stress with the players I work with. It’s not just about basketball (or whatever sport they might play).

If a player I’m working with is already skillful, and is already a “good” player, I can give them certain skills that will help them to the next level or give them an extra edge if they come up against a player of equal skill.  For them, it’s more about how they approach the game and how they think about the game.

Other times, working with free throw shooters who are already good, I explain to them how I will help them get that “in the zone” stroke, and stay there (in the zone) longer.

What I’m doing with all the players I work with is showing them that there’s a way to build a disciplined approach to improvement that goes beyond basketball.  It involves their mindset and attitude too.

So it’s a special kind of attitude you need to focus on with this business and the sport you teach.  Don’t listen to all those whiners about pushing kids too hard.  Remember, the parents and players who come to you want to be there.

        (If you do come across a player who you think doesn’t want to be there with you, but the parents insist, then it’s your responsibility to tell the parents that you will not do the lessons because you feel that their child doesn’t want to be there.  I have to say though, that I’ve never run into this kind of situation with my business).

All the kids will love it, if you make it interesting for them.

Finding a place for your training sessions

       The only real snag I came across when I started was where to do the lessons.  And this will probably be the hardest part about getting started for you.   After that, everything else is easier.

        For my basketball lessons, I had problems finding a school that would let me use a gym.  All the public schools were dead ends.  I don’t know about your area, but in mine, I think they are kind of “backward” in their thinking.  I won’t go into detail here, but they wouldn’t even give me a chance.

        It took me over 3 months to find a gym.   So let me give you advice based on my experience: try to find a private school who will rent you the gym or let you use space (a field if you are doing outside sports) on their property.

        Find out what it costs to rent the gym or use their facility.  Then try to make a deal with the head of the school or athletic director where you’ll give discounts to the players at their school if you can use the gym or field for discounted rental fees.  You’ll have to decide what you can pay and what you can charge for your services in your area, so make sure the numbers work out for you.

        I’ve never had to do this, but if forced to, I would have used an outdoor court for my basketball training.  It’s nice to have an indoor court because then you don’t have to worry about canceling lessons if there is bad weather.  But if forced to, I would have used an outdoor court.  I know several coaches who do that for their lessons.

        If you coach a sport that you don’t need a gym for, that’s even better.  You can usually use a school’s field (if their team isn’t using it - just get permission or ask if you can rent time) or find a public park area with some space.  For example, if you teach baseball pitching, you can get a pitching mound rubber, a home plate, and a backstop net and go to a park with open space.

        Another option is to find a local YMCA or athletic club that has space and time slots for you to rent. If you have to go this route, then approach the facility manager about setting up skills clinics for players.  You’ll be more likely to get to rent the facilities if you explain how it will benefit their members or explain to them that you’ll be bringing money in for them.

To find out all you need to know about starting and running your sports training business, check out  the Sports Coach Business Guide