When should sick athletes return

July 16, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

Last month, a Responsible Sports Parent wrote to our panel of experts to ask:

The team mom/parent of a player states through an email her daughter won’t attend the softball game due to her bronchitis. The following practice the player shows up and I the coach ask if she is still sick, the player stated to me a little, I am still on antibiotics and can’t run.

As a coach what should I do?

Ken, a concerned coach.

We asked two of our experts to weigh in. Ken Eriksen – USA Softball and University of South Florida Head Coach, had this to say:

Don't play her until she brings back a doctors note clearing her to play through the antibiotic treatment

And Tina Syer, Chief Impact Officer from Positive Coaching Alliance answered:

“Dear Ken,

Thanks for asking a question that I’m sure has come up for many youth sports coaches. One thing a Responsible Coach can do in this situation is request a note from a doctor clearing the athlete to participate (and to what level). You noted this player was on antibiotics, which means a doctor must have prescribed them, so you’re simply asking this doctor to let you know when it’s safe for the player to participate. This shows concern not only for the player herself, but also the teammates who will be exposed to her.

If the doctor clears her to participate, but not to run, there are still plenty of other ways to involve this player at practice. Rather than simply sitting her on the sidelines to watch, you could have her manage drills, officiate, set up cones, time drills, etc. She can still benefit from the coaching at practice, even if she is not running.

Reading into the fine print of your question, if you’re faced with this at practice, and there is not time to get a doctor’s note, I’d call the player’s parents and ask if their child was cleared by the doctor to be at practice. If the answer is“no,” then I’d ask the parents to come get her. It’s not easy to be the“heavy” on this sort of thing, but it really is putting the health and safety of all of your players first.”

Do you have a youth softball question you’d like to pose to our panel of experts? Visit us online and ask your question today! We regularly post answers on ResposibleSports.com and each month we’ll feature one question here at ASA Softball.