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How to Perform a Risk Assessment for Sports: The Ultimate Guide (Including Examples and Template)

With so many variables, it’s difficult to know what hazards you face when playing sports, whether in an elite team or a grassroots project. Risk assessments in sport are the key to keeping your players, athletes, team, staff, and spectators safe and letting them enjoy sports with all the confidence they deserve. 
From solo sports to playing in teams, to contact sports, requirements for individual risk assessments are likely to vary. To find out the specific requirements for your risk assessment, consult the National Governing Body of your sport.

Gym workout and personal trainer with clipboard consulting a training sports client in gym

As the owner or manager of a sports team, sports facility, or club, you are responsible for the safety of those around you. It’s up to you to keep all participants safe by minimising the risk of accidents, injuries, infection transmission, and anything else that presents a potential hazard.

Risk assessment in sport definition: a risk assessment is an evaluation of a specific environment or situation to identify the nature and level of potential hazards and threats to safety. 

Once these threats have been identified, you will need to find solutions to manage the risks and protect people as well as possible. This means that you are fully prepared before any activity commences. Solutions to the risks you identify could vary from putting certain procedures in place to increasing the amount of infection control equipment available to your staff and participants to training appointed first aiders in certain special techniques. 

What is the purpose of a risk assessment in sport? With any organised activity, there are dangers. Sports often present a higher level of danger due to increased physical activity, exposure to certain equipment and environments, and high-contact interaction with others. A sports risk assessment can:

  • Put reasonable measures in place to keep participants safe from harm.
  • Give all involved the confidence to perform to the best of their ability.
  • Help sports organisers and facilities managers improve their safety protocols over time.
  • Protect the facility or organiser from legal action if something goes wrong.

Why is risk assessment important in sport?

So, why are risk assessments important in sport? Organised sports activities require groups of people to be in close contact with one another, often sharing equipment and facilities like toilets. Is this a contact sport that requires participants to be in physical contact with one another? All of these factors pose individual risks.

But the importance of risk assessment in sport isn’t just about keeping people safe; it’s also the law. 

Assessing Risk in Sport: Regulatory Bodies

The Health and Safety Executive is the organisation that sets out the requirements of risk assessments for all organisations in the UK, including places of work and sports. 

Find out about risk assessments from the HSE.

Each sport is overseen by a national governing body (NGB) whose job is to ensure participants are aware of the health and safety precautions and requirements that pertain to that specific sport.

It’s important to check with your NGB to determine exactly what you need to be aware of for your risk assessment, as risks vary greatly from sport to sport. Your NGB will set out any specific requirements for your first aid training and provision and other particularities needed to ensure participants are safe. Below is a table showing the national governing bodies of the most common sports.

Sport National Governing Body
Football The Football Association
Cycling British Cycling
Rugby Union England Rugby
Rugby League Rugby Football League
Boxing England Boxing
Basketball Basketball England
Netball England Netball
Hockey England Hockey
Cricket England and Wales Cricket Board
Athletics British Athletics
Tennis The Lawn Tennis Association
Badminton Badminton England
Squash England Squash
Golf England Golf

Who is responsible for the completion of risk assessments?

It is the responsibility of the employer, owner, or manager of a club, group, or facility to conduct a risk assessment.

If your sports group uses a venue to conduct activities, you should speak to the owner of this venue. They may already have their own risk assessment processes in place for certain things, but you must ensure the venue owner and staff are fully briefed on any processes you need to put in place following your risk assessments in sport.

There might be actions that other members of your team need to carry out following your risk assessment (for example, your appointed first aider might need to complete certain training). But, as the person in charge, you must make the necessary people fully aware of these.

As the person in charge, you must:

  • Ensure your sport risk assessment is completed and kept in date.
  • Ensure your team or facility has the appropriate equipment and supplies to meet the risk assessment needs.
  • Ensure you have appointed the necessary people to oversee first aid and other safety protocols as determined by your risk assessment.
  • Ensure the place you carry out activities is sufficiently equipped as per your sports facility risk assessment.
  • If you’ve carried out a sports club risk assessment, ensure those who own, manage, and work in the place you carry out activities are aware of relevant protocols.
  • Ensure all relevant people have up-to-date training.
  • Ensure any accidents are reported to the relevant bodies.

How many steps are there to a risk assessment?

There are five steps to risk assessment processes recommended by the Health and Safety Executive. This checklist is designed to keep you aware of all instances of risk, and to be vigilant in keeping your risk assessment as watertight as possible. Ensure you have covered all the necessary steps to risk-assess your particular sport by consulting the guidance of your sport’s National Governing Body. 

The five steps of risk assessment for sports are:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Identify who is at risk
  3. Evaluate the risks and find precautions
  4. Carry out the precautions and record results
  5. Review and tweak your risk assessment

How to Do a Risk Assessment in Sports

Female soccer team and their coach going through game plan on football pitch

Risk assessment and risk management in sport is a straightforward step-by-step process. Here’s what to do.

1. Identify the hazards: what poses a threat to safety?

  • Walkthrough processes you will use during activities. Think of any instances of risk in each step
  • Talk to staff and group members for their thoughts and suggestions based on their experience
  • Check historical accident records and data sheets to find any past instances of risk

2. Identify who is at risk: who will be affected by these hazards?

  • Think of all the people involved in your activities and how they could be affected, either directly or indirectly.
  • Imagine the scenarios you considered in step one. Play them out in your mind and think about who would be affected 
  • Consider group members, venue hosts and staff; members of families; support staff such as cleaners, caterers etc.; assistants and club partners; anyone who is touched by your activity.

3. Evaluate the risks and find precautions: how severe are the risks and how likely? What are the best solutions?

  • In this section, you will be able to record your risks in priority order and find precautions that can be implemented to minimise them. Read on to find a template you can use to keep track of these. 
  • Consider the likelihood and severity of each risk, listing those with the highest severity at the top
  • When deciding your precautionary measures, think about the availability of these solutions, their cost, and who will carry them out

4. Carry out the precautions and record results: ensure risks are minimised, keep track of your control measures

  • Be sure to record all instances in which precautions were actioned, what the results were, who carried out the precautions and when

5. Review and tweak your risk assessment: update and change processes where necessary

  • Most precautionary measures in sports activities will be met with social distancing and infection control. As more players, parents, and spectators become involved over time, ensure you are attentive to examining and adjusting these measures
  • As you physically carry out the precautions set in step three, it’s likely that other risks will come to light or that you will find more efficient ways to mitigate these threats. Update your risk assessment for sport with these whenever necessary
  • Be vigilant to respond to changes in your circumstances. For example, if your group grows considerably or you move to a new environment, a new risk assessment will need to be conducted to update your current one.

Risk Assessment in a Sports Hall or Sports Facility

sports hall

Risk assessment for sports clubs or of a sports hall/venue is one of the most common types of sports-related risk assessment. The environment plays a major role in the types of hazards presented in any sport. Here are some examples of the widely varying factors resulting in sports hall hazards.

Factor Hazard
Multiple other groups using the facility Exposure to hazardous equipment and potentially busy environment.
The facility floor is regularly wet from swimming pool facilities or outdoor weather. Slip hazards are present.
Insufficient storage space for sports equipment. Trip hazards and obstruction of fire exits.

British Athletics offers an excellent comprehensive risk assessment for a sports hall. Use this as a sports hall risk assessment example to help when considering the types of safety hazards in your sports hall.

Sports Day Risk Assessment

Children competing on school sports day

A risk assessment for sports events is critical. A busy event with multiple participants in a large outdoor space with multiple physical activities going on at one time is a breeding ground for safety hazards. A risk assessment for sports day should consider all those participating, including children, teachers, parents, spectators, and staff at any facilities being used. Any school hosting a sports day is responsible for mitigating all health and safety risks during the event.
Use any existing risk assessments to establish what safety measures you already have in place and what additional measures need to be taken. Take a look at Manchester Schools PE Assocation’s Sports Day risk assessment for a good example of what to consider and the steps you need to take.

Sports Risk Assessment Examples

Your risk assessment will need to take the form of a table so that you can fill in all the details of your findings and the precautions you are taking. The HSE recommends including the following columns under which you can list each risk:

  • What are the Hazards?
  • Who is at risk?
  • What precautions are currently in place?
  • What further precautions will you take?
  • Who will carry out the actions?
  • When should the action be completed?

We’ve compiled a list of risk assessment examples sport players, coaches, teachers, and venue owners can refer to. Browse risk assessments in sport examples to get a good idea of what yours should look like.

Download a Risk Assessment Sport Template

Whether you need to conduct a risk assessment in sports coaching, for a sports facility, or as a participant in a sport, the process is much the same. Use our sports risk assessment template to carry out your risk assessment. Click on the link below to download our sport risk assessment template as a PDF and fill it in online or print it out to fill out by hand.
You can apply this as a risk assessment template for sports clubs, schools, community centres, teams, and individuals.

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