The Informed Coach




Chapter:  Risk Management

 Risk Management


A few kids, before class, are having a piggyback jousting session. That’s where one partner mounts the other and tries to knock down or cause a dismount of the opposing pair. This escalates not only in intensity but also in difficulty as the pairs are now shoulder mounted. One child falls and suffers a concussion and a broken arm.  There are about twenty five to thirty students packed into a small twenty by twenty room. Along one side there are a few unoccupied chairs and a desk. Everyone is busy in trying to throw someone until finally someone does. Unfortunately, due to the over crowded space, its into the leg of a student who falls onto others and a few collide into the desk and chairs. This resulted in several bruises, stubbed toes, bent fingers, and an ACL operation. It’s a particularly hot day and with no air conditioning in the dojo, someone yells out, “ O K, don’t be a sissy, get out there and fight! Water break? What are you talking about? Johnny feints, but the others are told to continue while he’s being dragged to the side to make room. His skin is cool and clammy and his breathing is shallow and he still hasn’t come to. Now what do we do?

With a little bit of care these types of situations that can lead to legal problems, can be avoided.  The old adage “ Do unto other as you would have done onto yourself is a good place to start.  As coaches and instructors we are entrusted with the care and development of our students. If we think of them as if they are our own children we would want nothing but the best for them.  What most parents want is a safe, clean environment in which their children can grow to be strong healthy humans they can be proud of. To accomplish this we need to be a cut above the average person on the street. We need to think ahead and to continue to be vigilant to perilous conditions. The examples above are instances where due to neglect or a lack of understanding of contraindicated conditions someone is injured needlessly. The area of law that we are concerned in is termed Tort Law, but more specifically the area of Negligence.


  1. What is negligence about?
  2. Are there certain standards for coaches that differ from regular people?
  3. What are defenses to negligence?

Negligence occurs when there is an assumed duty that is breached or not performed, and you are the proximate cause that has resulted in some damage. Thus negligence is a result of a duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. If any one of these factors is missing a case for negligence or liability is very weak. Along with these terms there are a number of others that one becomes familiar with. These are listed below with a brief description of each:wittingly some unwittingly taking banned substances in order to optimize the chances of winning. These substances may be illicit drugs, amphetamines, steroids, or even prescription drugs to over the counter drugs banned by the International Olympic Committee. Yes, over the counter substances banned by the IOC (International Olympic Committee). Not to many years ago an athlete unknowingly took a cold medication that showed up in a drug test and eliminated him from the Olympic Trials. In another instance an athlete went so far as to train at high altitude where his blood was able to gain a higher level of oxygen content, extracted it, and re-infused himself with that blood just prior to competing and won. This win at all cost mentality has also influenced athletes trying to do their best to work within the rules.

United States Judo Federation

National Teachers Institute

Mitchell Palacio, Chairperson

United States Judo Federation

P.O. Box 338

Ontario, OR 97914-0338


Phone: 1-541-889-8753

Fax: 1-541-889-5836