Coaching Association of Canada

6 Steps to Follow When an Injury Occurs

By its very nature, physical activity can present some risk of injury. One of the key responsibilities of the coach is to manage the potential risks that present themselves during practice or competition. If an injury does occur, follow these six important steps to prevent further harm.

Step 1: Control the environment so that no further harm occurs

  • Stop all athletes
  • Protect yourself if you suspect bleeding (put on gloves)
  • If outdoors, shelter the injured athlete from the elements and from any traffic

Step 2: Do an initial assessment of the situation

If the athlete:

  • Is not breathing
  • Does not have a pulse
  • Is bleeding profusely
  • Has impaired consciousness
  • Has injured the back, neck, or head
  • Has a visible major trauma to a limb
  • Cannot move his or her arms or legs or has lost feeling in them

If the athlete does not show the signs above, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Do a second assessment of the situation

  • Gather the facts by talking to the injured athlete as well as anyone who witnessed the incident
  • Stay with the injured athlete and try to calm him or her; your tone of voice and body language are critical
  • If possible, have the athlete move himself or herself off the playing surface; do not attempt to move an injured athlete.

Step 4: Assess the injury

  • Have someone with first-aid training complete an assessment of the injury and decide how to proceed.
  • If the person trained in first aid is not sure of the severity of the injury or no one present has first-aid training, activate EAP.
  • If the assessor is sure the injury is minor, proceed to Step 5.

Step 5: Control the return to activity

Allow an athlete to return to activity after a minor injury only if there is no:

  • Swelling
  • Deformity
  • Continued bleeding
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Pain when using the injured part

Step 6: Record the injury on an accident report form and inform the parents


The Planning a Practice module will give you the skills to organize a well-structured practice plan with safe activities to match the level of participants. It will allow you to identify potential risk factors and to create an emergency action plan in case something goes wrong. To enroll in this multi-sport module today, please click here and then click on your Province or Territory for more information.