Mississippi Class 1-A Head Coaches' Decision-Making On Returning Injured Athletes to Play

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Performance and Recreation

First Advisor

Jan Drummond

Advisor Department

Human Performance and Recreation


The purpose of this study was to examine Mississippi class 1-A high school head coaches' decision making regarding the return of injured athletes to competition based on the athletes' ability level. Sixty-three subjects of the 132 head coaches solicited, completed and returned the surveys, yielding a 48% return rate. The Return Athletes to Play Survey (RAPS ) consisted of three parts: Demographics, Perceptions, and Scenarios. The Perception section consisted of a Likert-type scale anchored by (1) strongly disagree and (6) strongly agree. Five scenarios were presented pertaining to returning injured athletes to play based on the athletes' ability level and situations including importance of the game, urgency, grade level, and eagerness. In scenarios 1 and 4 the athlete could be returned to play and in scenarios 2, 3, and 5, the athlete should not be returned to play. A significant correlation was found between coaches that feel they need an athletic trainer at practices and competence in deciding when the injured athlete should be returned to play (r = .29). A statistically significant relationship was found between age of the coach and scenario 1 for returning the weak team asset athlete to play (r = .27). A significant relationship was found between number of years in coaching and ability level of the athlete in scenarios 1 and 4 [scenario 1/strong team asset athlete (r = .31); scenario 1/weak team asset athlete (r = .38); scenario 4/strong team asset athlete ( r = .26), scenario 4/weak team asset athlete (r = .25)]. It was concluded that although coaches feel competent in their decision to return an injured athlete to play, they also feel a need to have an athletic trainer at practice. For scenario 1, the older the coach the more likely they are to play a weak team asset athlete. Additionally, it was concluded that for scenarios 1 and 4, the more years of coaching, the more likely the coach is to return an athlete to play regardless of ability level.