Step Three in the #TeamUp4ConcussionSafety game plan is a mandatory pre-season concussion safety meeting.
Unlike the typical concussion safety meeting, which generally focuses on educating athletes about the signs and symptoms of concussion, and the dangers to an athlete’s health from continuing to play with concussion, the #TeamUp4ConcussionSafety™ concussion meeting focuses on changing attitudes about concussion symptom reporting by emphasizing the performance benefits of honest symptom reporting to the athlete and their team.
The meeting is where:
- coaches and athletes discuss and clarify attitudes and expectations about concussion reporting, and where any misperceptions about what coaches and parents want athletes to do when it comes to concussion reporting are corrected;
- positive expectations are set about concussion reporting, and how being a good a team member means looking out for the health and safety of other team members;
- athletes learn that immediate reporting is actually in their best interests and that of their team because it:
- reduces the risk that the player will suffer an even more serious or potentially catastrophic brain injury by continuing to play with concussion;
- helps ensure that the team’s overall performance is not compromised by an athlete who’s reaction time, thinking, and memory may have been affected; and
- maximizes the chances that the athlete, if diagnosed with a concussion, will miss the shortest amount of time as a result of the injury and returns to play as soon as reasonably possible.
- all stakeholders (coaches, the athletic training staff, and parents) begin to create a climate in which athletes feel comfortable reporting symptoms of a possible concussion.
Because an athlete’s attitudes and actions are heavily influenced by their parents, coaches, and teammates, SmartTeams believes that it is essential that attendance at the meeting by athletes (and, at the high school level and below, their parents) be mandatory, and that the coach take a prominent role in the meeting in order to:
- Actively encourage honest self-reporting by athletes of post-concussion signs and symptoms, both their own and those of their teammates (such as by employing the same kind of buddy system football programs often employ to protect athletes from heat illness during hot weather practices and games, and which MomsTEAM featured in its PBS documentary, The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer); and
- Reassure athletes that they will not jeopardize their position as a starter or place on the team if they self-report, and that he/she will not question their toughness, call them “wimps” or “sissies,” or ostracize them.
SmartTeams believes that, by working together to create a safe reporting environment, and appealing pragmatically to the self-interest of coaches, athletes, and parents in achieving individual and team goals such as winning, we can create a culture of safety in sports because SmartTeams play safe!
You can download a suggested PowerPoint presentation below.