Identify and manage an injury


There are a few basic things that you can make sure happen immediately after an injury has occurred - this is called the immediate phase. Coaches and players should be 100% familiar with these procedures.

Suspected Spinal Injury

In the event of a suspected spinal or other serious injury:

  • Call 111 for an Ambulance.
  • Don't move the player until qualified medical personnel arrive!


A player may have suffered a severe neck injury, and yet still be able to move. If the spine is unstable, and they are moved, they run the risk of permanent paralysis.

Referees and coaches should err on the side of caution and seek medical assistance in the event of any potentially serious injury.


For All Other Injuries

If the injury disrupts play, get the player assessed on the field so you can decide whether to keep the player on or take them off.  If emergency treatment is not needed, here is a tool to help with further assessment.

 What to do for suspected spinal injury


Key word



  • Ask the player what happened.
  • Where does it hurt?
  • What kind of pain is it?


  • Look at the affected area for redness or swelling.
  • Is the injured side different from the other side?


  • Feel for lumps, depression, swelling, heat, points of tenderness


  • Active movement - Ask the injured player to move the injured part without any help.
  • Passive movement - If the player can move the injured part, carefully try to move it yourself through its full range of motion.

Skills Test

  • Did the active and passive movement produce pain? If no, can the player stand and demonstrate some of the skills from the game?

Initial Treatment for Soft Tissue Injuries

A soft tissue injury such as a sprain, strain, or bruise should immediately be treated with the R.I.C.E.D. procedure.

What to do for soft tissue injuries


Key word



  • Rest reduces further damage.
  • Avoid as much movement of the injured part as possible to limit further injury. Don’t put any weight on the injured part.


  • Ice cools the tissue and reduces pain, swelling and bleeding.
  • Place ice wrapped in a damp towel onto the injured area.
  • Apply ice for 20 minutes every two hours for the first 48 hours


  • Firm bandaging helps to reduce bleeding and swelling.
  • Ensure that bandaging is not so tight that it cuts off circulation or causes tingling or pain past the bandage.
  • Bandage the injury between ice treatments.


  • Elevate the injured area to stop bleeding and swelling.
  • Raise the injured area on a pillow for comfort and support.


  • Consult a medical professional such as a doctor or physiotherapist especially if you are worried about the injury, or if the pain or swelling gets worse.
  • If the pain or swelling has not gone down significantly within 48 hours, also seek treatment.



Once the injury has been diagnosed and treated, avoid these harmful factors for 72 hours:



Heat increases the bleeding in the injured tissues. Avoid hot baths and showers, saunas, hot water bottles, heat packs and liniments.


Key word



Avoid alcohol as it increases the bleeding and swelling around soft tissue injuries and delays healing. It can also mask the injury’s pain and possible severity, which may result in the player not seeking treatment as early as they should. If a player has a suspected head injury alcohol MUST be avoided.


Running, or exercise of the injured part, will cause further damage. Do not resume exercise within 72 hours of the injury unless a medical professional clears the player.


Massage causes an increase in bleeding and swelling and will prolong the rehabilitation process when done within 72 hours of the injury.