How can you do your part?

Table of Contents

Coaches & Trainers

In 2013, the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council concluded that the culture of sports negatively influences concussion reporting and that athletes, coaches, and parents do not fully acknowledge the risks of playing while injured (31).

What can you do as a coach to help create a safer sports culture?

Create an environment where players feel safe to come to you when reporting symptoms. Trust is key.

Here’s how you can start the dialog:

Educate your team. 

Utilize this site’s information to teach your players about concussion and the need to take this injury seriously. Be sure to emphasize how vital the brain is to each individual and that continuing to play with a concussion can be damaging. For more information, see our section on why removal from play is important.  

Raising awareness is what we do. We actively seek out opportunities to speak with teams and organizations to provide concussion education.  If you are interested in having us to an event, fill out our contact form here

Form a Plan.

Concussions are going to happen. Sports are rough, people fall, and balls go flying. The easiest way to be prepared and maximize the brain safety of your players is to form a plan of action to utilize when a concussion is suspected.  

Here are a few recommendations:

1.    Establish guidelines for removal from play and stick to them

Creating guidelines ahead of time about concussion assessment and removal from play will eliminate any confusion and debate in the heat of a game situation or practice.  It also sets a good example for your players by prioritizing safety, particularly when concussion is involved.

2. Investigate the latest concussion diagnostic testing tools

Here are a few examples of sideline diagnostics deemed effective by medical professionals (20). They only last a few minutes and are simple enough to be administered by any adult. Explore each test and consult with a doctor to determine what is best for your team. The more tests you perform, the more likely you are to catch a concussion. Keep in mind that ten minutes of testing after a player sustains a blow to the head or body can potentially save a life.

Sideline Symptom Assessment

BESS Test - Balance Assessment

King-Devick Test - Visual and Oculomotor assessment 

SAC Test - Standard Assessment of Concussion
Regardless of the specific tests employed, the evaluation should include measures of concussion related symptoms, balance, and neuropsychological function (21).

Once you’ve selected the types of diagnostic tests, educate trusted  parents and assistant coaches on what to look for and how to administer them. If a trainer is not present, designate someone to be in charge of concussion evaluation. This way, you can still focus on the game and your athlete is being taken care of.

3. Consider baseline testing options

Baseline testing is when athletes take concussion diagnostic tests before an injury has occurred. Once you decide which tests you will use with your team, administer them to each player to establish each individual’s baseline score. This score will be used for comparison when an injury occurs. Current standards recommend testing athletes on these measures prior to athletic participation, in order to serve as a baseline for comparison, in the event that the athlete sustains a concussion (22, 7).

The ImPACT Test is a widely used computerized neurocognitive test. Since it is computerized, it can’t be used as a sideline diagnostic, but it can be a useful tool when considering return to play. Players should be encouraged to explore getting baseline tested in this as well.

This test should not supplement the evaluation by a licensed medical professional and needs to be interpreted by someone experienced in using the test and in the context of a complete clinical evaluation for concussion.  

Make the New Tough Pact.

Through athletics, players learn resilience, commitment, and teamwork. We know the life lessons players develop from overcoming adversity and fighting through pain. However, athletes and coaches should know that concussions are a type of injury that should never be pushed through. The New Tough Pact provides an opportunity for players and coaches to be proactive in creating a safer sports culture  where concussions are handled with diligence and care.

Players commit to report symptoms, stay patient during concussion recovery, play with integrity, and support teammates who have sustained a concussion.

Learn more here to promote this culture shift.

Learn more here


It is on coaches and leaders to establish a safe team culture. Rewarding safe play, listening to players’ needs, and encouraging athletes to report concussion symptoms goes a long way.  If a concussion does occur, make sure that player is taken care of. Ask how he or she is doing, encourage teammates to offer support, and model patience throughout recovery.


Get involved to ensure your child’s safety. Here are some recommendations:

Learn and Discuss

Help protect your child by learning about concussion. Get the facts by exploring the Resources section of our website.

Then, have a conversation about it! Do your best to make sure your child understands concussion before participating in a sport. Children should be made aware of concussion symptoms and existing protocols for their team. The more they understand, the more likely they are to report symptoms and avoid confusion if an injury occurs.

Identify Concussion Experts

One way to be proactive about your child’s brain health is to be prepared in case of injury. Before your child starts his or her sports season or school year, make sure to do research ahead of time. Start by identifying the people and places in your community who can care for your child if a concussion occurs. See our “Recovery Tips” section for more details on this.

It’s important to select a doctor/concussion clinic that is up to date with the latest findings, offers a rehabilitation plan, and has extensive experience in dealing with concussion. There are still many unanswered questions when it comes to concussion but, making sure the doctor you chose is up to date with the latest findings will help put your child on the right path to recovery.

Investigate Concussion Protocols

Connect with your child’s school administration and sports organizations to learn about what measures are in place for your child. Inquire about the school or team’s existing concussion protocols and baseline testing. If no plan is in place, learn how to create one in our “For Coaches” section.

Consult a doctor with any inquiries you may have.

Support your child.

Concussions can affect every aspect of a child’s life and they are often very isolating.  Here are some tips to show support:

Concussions can affect every aspect of a child’s life and they are often very isolating.  Here are some tips to show support:

Keep your child’s spirits high!

  • Cook or order in their favorite meal - our favorite foods have a way of cheering us up and making us feel special

  • Play a game - games are a great way to keep your child entertained as long as it doesn’t cause symptoms so, break out that deck of cards or grab a board game and have fun!

  • Plan an outing - Just because your child has sustained a concussion does not mean they have to be confined to the house. If your child is feeling up to it, go outside for a walk, apple picking, or out to a quiet restaurant.

Prioritize Recovery.

Every concussion is different and every child recovers at a different pace, which means patience is key. We have learned from experience that pushing too hard, too soon can be detrimental to the recovery process and leads to added stress. Work with your doctor to make sure your child is re-acclimating to daily life at the correct pace.

In the meantime, let your child know that you are there to help with their school work, be their advocate, and provide reassurance about their situation.

Your child may benefit from:

  • Creating a schedule for making up assignments, recommended therapeutic exercises, and doctor appointments.

  • Reading assignments out loud to them

Listen To Your Child.

Give your child the opportunity to articulate how they are feeling, how recovery is going, what is working, and what is not. Listen to their complaints and struggles. Consider keeping a log of symptoms to show the doctor and try to help eliminate their stress.

The patient is the only one who knows exactly how the patient feels. Particularly with older kids, It’s important that they know their voice is being heard.

Make Sure Your Household Is Aware of the Injury.

Keep everyone up to date on what the deal is. Rally other family members to be supportive. With siblings especially, you may need to explain what a concussion is and that their brother or sister will be ok. You can also discuss things such as being mindful of noise in order to create the optimal environment for recovery.

Think your child has a concussion? Click here for more information and helpful tips on concussion recovery.


Click here to see our sources.

DISCLAIMER: Headway is not a medical provider and does not provide medical advice.  Any medical information included on this website is provided for informational purposes only.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.