Website Manager

Rockbridge United Soccer Club

<h1>Safety Best Practices</h1>

The safety of our players, coaches, staff, and spectators is of the utmost importance. This document highlights certain best practices regarding SAFETY that should be followed by ALL coaches in RUSC at ALL times. Some of this is taken from the USYSA (our national organization) manual for youth coaching. This document is linked below and I urge each coach to read through the WHOLE document, paying special attention to the sections dedicated to the age group(s) you are coaching.

A separate document on coaching techniques and practices is forthcoming.

There are links at the bottom to various resources, including the online CDC Concussion Training course, which every coach must take ASAP and submit a certificate to [email protected]

Length of Practice.

A developmentally appropriate approach to training is necessary to the safety and development of the player. More discussion will appear in the Coaching Best Practices. In terms of safety, coaches will follow these limits on length of practice:

U6 45 minute maximum
U8 60 minute maximum
U10 75 minute maximum
U12 90 minute maximum
U14+ 120 minute maximum

Require all players to wear shin guards and appropriate footwear.

Give plenty of opportunity for players to drink water and take rest breaks.

Tell all your players that if they "don't feel right" or "feel sick" or "are hurt" they should tell you immediately.

If in a game situation, they should sit down and draw the attention of coaches or referees.

Always have a first aid kit on hand.

Basic first aid kits can be purchased at CVS, Kroger, Walmart.

Have emergency phone numbers for all players on hand.

Goal Safety.

Before every practice, training session, and game inspect nets, goal structure, and goal anchors to be sure they are properly installed and undamaged. If goals are in serious disrepair or are not properly anchored discontinue use immediately and contact the Club or notify a referee and do not use the goals until they are repaired and anchored.

If you are scheduled for a practice or a game at a location that lacks goal anchors all together, DO NOT USE THE GOALS. Notify the club to be supplied with anchors and/or purchase sand bags. When using sand bags there should be at least two 40-50 lb. bags per goal.

Whether or not anchors are present, NEVER allow players or anyone else nearby to climb or hang on goals, climb or hang on nets, or remove goal anchors.

If you are at a location with spare goals that are unanchored, you and another adult should place these goals face down and out of the way, so no one is tempted to use or climb on them.

Players U12 and younger should not move goals. Players U13 and older may move goals only if strong enough and supervised by an adult. The preferred method is for 5 people to slowly tip the goal forward on its face with one person at the top and bottom of each post and one person supporting the center of crossbar. The adult should aid in the tipping and righting of the goal.

Falling goals kill. 

We follow RARO's decisions regarding field closings.

If RARO closes fields/cancels practices, then our practices are canceled as well and each coach should notify parents and players ASAP. Only if you have arranged an appropriate indoor practice space AND it is safe for coaches and players to travel may you hold a practice during RARO cancellations.

30/30 and 10 Mile Rules for Lightning Safety.

A rule of thumb method: If you count 30 seconds or less between a flash of lightning and the sound of thunder, then the lightning is within 6 miles and conditions are extremely unsafe. You must immediately seek appropriate shelter for all players, coaches, referees, spectators, etc. You must keep shelter for a period of at least 30 minutes after the last instance of lightning or thunder. If there are lightning strikes while you are sheltered, you must restart the 30 minute count when they occur. If you can't see lightning, just hearing the thunder is a good back-up rule.

A more precise method: If you have a smartphone, download WeatherBug. WeatherBug has a section called Spark, indicated by a lightning bolt symbol. This part of the app will show you in real time on a map how close the closest lightning strikes are and the general direction in which the storm is moving. If lightning is 10 miles away or closer, conditions are very dangerous. You must immediately seek appropriate shelter for all players, coaches, referees, spectators, etc. You must keep shelter until lighting is both farther than 10 miles away, and no longer approaching the area.

Best Places To Take Cover (In Order Of Most Safe To Least Safe)

  1. 1. Sturdy Building: A sturdy building is an enclosed building with metal plumbing or wiring to ground the structure. Buildings or sheds that are not enclosed (ex: baseball dugouts, tents, open sided rain shelters) should be avoided, as they don’t constitute a sturdy building. While inside a sturdy building, the following areas should be avoided: open doors and windows, close proximity to electrical appliances, contact with plumbing fixtures, and landline phones. It is safe to use a cordless or cell phone. Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
  2. 2. Vehicle: An enclosed vehicle such as a car, truck, van, or bus with a metal roof (not a convertible) and windows completely shut. Avoid touching anything metal or any conducting path to the outside such as a steering wheel, ignition, radio, gear shifter, etc. while inside the car.
  3. 3. In The Open: If a suitable sturdy building or vehicle is not available, you may have to stay in the open. Avoid all water, metal objects (such as electrical wires, machinery, motors, bleachers, and fences), small boats, high ground, isolated trees, and telephone poles. If lightning is striking nearby, avoid all direct contact with other people, remove all metal objects from your person, and crouch down with feet together and hands on knees making sure that only your feet are touching the ground.

Note that in game situations referees will usually consult with coaches, but referees have the final say on safety matters.

If it is obvious that play/training will not continue, parents should be contacted ASAP to provide rides home.


Concussions are serious brain injuries which must be dealt with appropriately when they first occur. Each coach must take the CDC online training course (link below) and print out a certificate, sending a copy to [email protected]

What follows is a very brief reminder of what you learn in that course. Remember: When in doubt, take them out.


  1. Remove the athlete from play.
  2. Ensure that the athlete is evaluated right away by an appropriate health care professional. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself.
  3. Inform the athlete's parents or guardians about the possible concussion and give them the fact sheet on concussion. Make sure they know that the athlete should be seen by a health care professional experienced in evaluating for concussion.
  4. Allow the athlete to return to play only with permission from a health care professional with experience in evaluating for concussion.

Be aware that extreme conditions require special attention to players' safety.

Extreme cold, heat, wind, rain, poor field conditions, etc. may require you to exercise common sense and caution beyond the advice and requirements specified here.

No players left behind

Never leave a player or players alone at a practice or game site. Wait for a parent or guardian to arrive.

Useful Links:

CDC Heads Up Online Concussion Training.

Click on the Heads Up graphic to the right of "Information for Coaches". After completing the course, print out your certificate and email it to [email protected] or mail to 

Paul Gregory
114 Willow Lane
Lexington, VA 24450.

The Official US Youth Soccer Coaching Manual.

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