Concussion Toolkit

Roles and responsibilities of coaches and officials

The Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) unites stakeholders and partners in its commitment to raising the skills and stature of coaches, and ultimately expanding their reach and influence.  Through its programs, the CAC empowers coaches with knowledge and skills, promotes ethics, fosters positive attitudes, builds competence, and increases credibility and recognition of coaches.  As a trained and/or certified Coach, you know a variety of ways to communicate about encouragement, fair play and the fundamentals of the sport, as well as on how to engage the athlete as an individual and being part of a team.  Chances are that you have also acquired a few new tricks with respect to communicating with parents, participants and officials. This is a remarkable amount of responsibility for any person. 

The CAC has developed a new resource section on  This section will offer coaches, partners and service providers with easy and quick access to concussion related resources, as well as access to program logos, design files, photos, videos, and more for the purpose of developing concussion and coach education resources.


The CAC is developing a coach education eLearning module on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) using a problem-based learning approach.  The module is designed to:

  1. Help reduce the number of occurences of TBA through coach education
  2. Increase the removal of athletes from sport when TBA is suspected
  3. Increase adherence to the Return To Play (RTP) protocol following a concussion

By the end of the module, coaches will be able to:

  • Assess the safety of the practice and competition environment
  • Recognize the symptoms of TBI and remove athletes from sport when appropriate
  • Apply the RTP protcol for the athletes they coach

You are likely performing this role part time, seasonally and/or as a volunteer or in an extra-curricular setting. This tool kit is intended to support you in your efforts on and off the field or arena. We are confident that your goal is to ensure a safe and rewarding experience for all involved.  We also know that injuries happen, and when they do, all eyes may be on you! In fact, parents and athletes rely on the coach for information to help prevent and manage injuries. 

Equipment, Environment, Education and Ethics

Managing concussion goes beyond creating a return to play plan. Injury prevention is an important component of not only managing concussion, but also helping to prevent it. As a coach it is important to emphasize the importance of:

Protective Equipment

  • Reinforce wearing the right gear for the right sport, and the importance of having equipment that fits well and is in good condition. 
  • Helmets prevent skull fractures, brain contusions and lacerations, and blood clots in and around the brain. Helmets do not prevent concussion.
  • There is no scientific evidence that mouthguards prevent concussions, but they do prevent dental fractures and jaw fractures.

Safe Environment

Facility safety is part of the overall prevention strategy. While we recognize that you can’t change the playing environment minutes before the game, you can run through a checklist for the purpose of drawing attention to potential risk factors. In doing so, alerting game officials to concerns that may result in a game delay and more import, injury prevention. This step may require additional team participation by a parent, participant or team manager. Better safe than sorry.

Rules and Respect

  • Play fair, within the rules, and within your abilities.

  • Have respect for your own brain and the brains of your opponents.

Ensuring you have the right knowledge about concussion, and keeping your knowledge current and accurate is very important. Concussion Guidelines for Coaches and Trainers is an important part of your coaching kit. Additional tools to have in hand for self, parents and participants are Return to Play Guidelines and the Pocket SCAT3.

Helping the athlete to understand the nature of his or her concussion, and how it affects his or her involvement in sport is important. Athletes might not have enough knowledge to recognize when they have been concussed, and so providing concussion education to them and the rest of the team is important. They might also choose not to report their injury or de-emphasize symptoms because they want to play their sport and not let their team, you or their parents down.  By taking the knowledge you have, you can help your entire team understand what a concussion is, why it is a serious injury and should be reported, and the importance of seeing a physician for treatment/management.

Coach - Case Study Tool

As a coach, informing your athletes and parents/caregivers about concussion is important.  One way you can do this is to provide education and information before, during and after the game season. Discussing concussion-specific case studies is one way to educate and this tool kit provides you with two sample case studies plus discussion questions.  Print the Case Study Tool along with these companion resources:  Return To Play Guidelines, Code of Conduct, How concussions occur and Pocket SCAT3

The Coaching Association of Canada provides a significant range of practical tips and tools that help prepare you for a great season. 

How a concussion occurs

A concussion is a brain injury that cannot be seen on routine X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. It affects the way a person may think and remember things, and can cause a variety of symptoms. Any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body, which causes a sudden jarring of the brain inside the skull, may cause a concussion (e.g., a ball to the head in soccer or being checked into the boards in hockey).

A common question is "what is the difference between concussion and brain injury?"  None. A concussion is a type of brain injury. There are other types of brain injuries such as haemorrhages and bruises of the brain.