Coaches tend to go through a multistage process when it comes to first aid. First of all they go through the unprepared stage, where they bring nothing with them and have no training. Time is spent worrying about how to run practices and deal with angry parents instead of recognizing injuries and illnesses. Progressing to stage two usually occurs when there is an injury to one of the players and the coach realizes how unprepared they are. They go to Walmart and buy a first aid kit and maybe some instant ice packs. A few minor injuries go by and all is well.
One practice there is a more major injury and again the coach feels unable to deal with it, prompting them to move to the next stage. An online coaching course or classroom CPR and First Aid training later and they are ready to respond to more major injuries. They also learned from the course that the first aid kit they have is woefully inadequate, and probably dangerous. Hopefully in going through all of these stages no one was hurt along the way. Why not skip through to the end and take the courses right now? We can help by recommending courses to take (see the Review section of this website), and by listing exactly what should and shouldn’t be included in a first aid kit for youth soccer: –
Ice / Ice Packs– Probably the most used and therefore most important ingredient you will put in your bag. We find that instant ones are better unless you plan to take a cooler with you to practice every day and change it every night. You can buy them in bulk online for less than 50 cents each. Usually they last for about 10-15 minutes, which is about the right amount of time for initial ice to be put on injuries. Make sure you replace them when you use them.
Antibacterial Wipes– Second most used item. Great for cleaning wounds when they get dirt and who knows what in them from contact with the ground and other players. We recommend getting ones that don’t sting.
Bandage Strips (Band-Aids)– Have lots of different sizes and the weird-shaped ones you can use on fingers and toes. These are useful for bleeding injuries, and also for rubbing/blister problems. Moleskin can also be used for the latter, if you have it.
Tissues/Gauze– Good for wiping up initial blood (bleeding in the mouth, nose etc) and other fluid issues. Paper towel can also be useful here. Ideally it should all be sterile.
Cotton Swabs (Q-Tips)– With all the bugs flying around in the summer it is quite common for players to get something stuck in their eye that you or them can remove with a mirror and one of these. Probably worth having a mirror too then. We do not encourage you to stick them in ears as this can damage the ear drum and compact whatever you are trying to get out.
Insect sting kit– See previous… There are insects flying around and some of them are more annoying that just being noisy. Topical creams and be used to deal with the immediate after effects of being stung by something. Monitor for allergic reactions too. You will need a cell phone if you get to that stage.
Sunscreen – High altitude increases the intensity of the sun’s rays, meaning players can get skin damage much more easily. If they forget to bring their own sun block, we encourage you to bring some for emergency use. Don’t become the team’s provider though: make them bring their own.
Pre Wrap and Athletic or Electrical Tape– This one is a bit philosophical. You should have it in case you need to tape an ankle that can still play on the field (of course, you need to know how to correctly tape them), but you should not be a free service for helping socks stay up. When we grew up players used real shin guards (not these pointless little plastic things) and elastic/Velcro to keep socks up. Now we waste massive balls of electrical tape to do it. If you have it in your back, keep it for emergencies only.
A final important note to consider: if you buy a non-sport specific first aid kit the first thing you need to do is take out any internal medicines you find in there (ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen etc). Coaches should never give players any internal drugs of any kind, regardless of whether the player asks for them. If they bring their own and do their own thing then there is no problem, but if are responsible, you become liable for what happens next. Sport first aid kits generally come without any of these, but family first aid kits do, so you will need to fix yours if you buy one.