We have assembled a two-page document administrators can use to direct coaches toward professional development opportunities that will help address the primary areas of athlete safety and allow your coaches to fulfill the legal requirements of the State of Tennessee.

The information below highlights the areas which are critical in ensuring the health and safety of student athletes as well as maintaining compliance with Tennessee state law.

Emergency Preparedness

It is critical that each team have its own Emergency Action Plan written specifically for each practice and competition venue. A free, 20 minute course called “Anyone Can Save a Life” has been developed by the Minnesota High School League which will enable a team to create its own plan utilizing the resources and personnel that are specific to that team. While there is currently no requirement for youth sports coaches to develop their own emergency action plans for their team, TSSAA strongly recommends that all coaches and sponsors of activities complete the Anyone Can Save a Life Training at the beginning of each sports season.

Heat Illness Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a study in 2010 that stated heat illness is the leading cause of death and disability among high school athletes. According to the CDC, there are more than 9,000 heat illnesses among high school athletes annually.

While there is no existing requirement for youth sports coaches to have annual training for heat illness prevention and treatment, TSSAA strongly recommends that all coaches and sponsors of activities which occur outdoors complete the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Heat Illness Prevention Course before working with students each season.

Concussion Information

Tennessee law and TSSAA policy mandates that certain procedures be followed when signs, symptoms, and behaviors consistent with a concussion are observed in practice or competition. Tennessee state law also requires annual training on concussions for all youth sports coaches. Educational materials must also be reviewed and signed by each student athlete and his/her parent or legal guardian. The Tennessee Department of Health has also developed a set of guidelines for students who have suffered a concussion as they transition back to the classroom.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Information

Tennessee law mandates annual training for any youth sports coaches regarding Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Athletes. Educational materials must also be reviewed and signed by each student athlete and his/her parent or legal guardian. The availability of Auto External Defibrillators (AEDs) at each venue where practice and competition take place is an integral part of the effectiveness of the response when a cardiac emergency occurs. A link to a crowdfunding site which may allow your school to place more AEDs at the site of practices and competitions can be found below.

COVID-19 Return to Play Guidelines

The families of students who have tested positive for COVID-19 should utilize the following flow chart linked below to determine whether or not they need to seek clearance from a medical provider prior to resuming activities with his/her team. A complete summary of the revised recommendations can be found here: NFHS/AMSSM Updated Cardiopulmonary Considerations for COVID-19 (January 2022). All coaches and students who are confirmed or suspected positive for COVID-19 should follow the recommendations for release from isolation from the CDC when considering a return to practice or activities.

Lightning Guidelines

When severe weather is forecast, protocol and chain of command for suspension of play should be discussed in the pregame meeting with the officials. These guidelines provide a default policy to those responsible or sharing duties for making decisions concerning the suspension and restarting of practices and contests based on the presence of lightning or thunder.

Tobacco Policy

The use of tobacco in any form by coaches, officials, and athletes is prohibited at TSSAA-sanctioned events.

TSSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee

The TSSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee was established to review current and potential sports medicine policy and proposals and make recommendations to the TSSAA Board of Control on all issues related to the health, wellness and injury reduction of member schools’ student-athletes.