The following has been developed from the National Coaching Foundation of the Code of Ethics (1989) published by the British Institute of Sports Coaches (BISC). It also adopts the principles contained in the Council of Europe’s Code of Sports Ethics.
The coach and business has the intent to conform to ethical standards in all areas: Humanity, Relationships, Commitment, Co-operation, Integrity, Advertising, Confidentiality, Abuse of privilege, Safety and Competence.
The coach will respect the rights, dignity and worth of every client and their right to self-determination. Treating everyone equitably and sensitively, within the context of their activity and ability, regardless of gender,ethnic origin, cultural background, sexual orientation, religion or political affiliation.
As individuals and as a responsible business we are concerned primarily with the well-being, safety, protection and future of the individual client. There must be a balance between the development of performance and the social, emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the individual.
A key element in a coaching relationship is the development of independence. Athletes are encouraged and guided to accept responsibility for their behaviours and actions, both in training and competition.
The coach takes responsibility for setting and monitoring the boundaries between a working relationship and friendship with the clients. This is particularly important when a client is a young person or vulnerable. The coach will take all reasonable care that any situations, friendly words or actions are not misinterpreted, not only by the client, but also by outsiders (or other members of a squad or group of clients etc). Thus ensuring there is no misconduct or impropriety.
Where physical contact between coach and client is a necessary part of the coaching process, the coach must ensure that no action on their part could be misconstrued and that British Triathlon Federation (National Governing Body) guidelines on this matter are always followed.
The relationship between coach and client relies heavily on mutual trust and respect. This means that the client should be made aware of the coach’s qualifications and experience and must be allowed to consent to or decline proposals for training or competition.
The Coach should clarify in advance with clients the number of sessions, period of time, communication process, fees and method of payment. They should explore with clients the expectation of the outcome of coaching and help set realistic goals. Written contracts may be appropriate in some circumstances.
The coach & business have a responsibility to declare to clients their current coaching commitments and manage the expectations of all new clients. They should also find out if any prospective client is receiving instruction from another teacher/coach. If so, the teacher/coach should be contacted to discuss the situation.
If the coach becomes aware of a conflict between their obligation to their client and their obligation to their NGB (or other organisations employing them), must make explicit to all parties concerned the nature of the conflict, and the loyalties and responsibilities involved.
The coach should expect a similar level of reciprocal commitment from their clients. In particular, the client (parent/guardian in the case of a minor) should inform the coach of any change in circumstances that might affect the coach/client relationship.
The coach should receive appropriate acknowledgement for their contribution to the athletes progress and achievement.
The coach should communicate and co-operate with other sports and allied professions in the best interests of their clients. An example of such contact could be the seeking of:
- Educational and career counselling for young athlets whose involvement in sport impinges upon their studies
- Sports science advice through the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES)
The coaches will communicate and co-operate with registered medical and ancillary practitioners in the diagnosis, treatment and management of their client’ medical and psychological problems. This maybe via the client.
The coach will actively encourage athletes to abide by the spirit and rules of their sport and never encourage any athletes to violate them.
The coach will not compromise their clients by advocating measures that could constitute an unfair advantage. They must not adopt practices to accelerate performance improvement that might jeopardise the safety, total well-being and future participation of the performer. The coach must never advocate or condone the use of prohibited drugs or other banned performance-enhancing substances.
The coach will ensure that the activities, training and competition programs they advocate and direct are appropriate for the age, maturity, experience and ability of the individual performer.
The coach will treat opponents with due respect, both in victory and defeat, and should encourage their clients to act similarly. (A key role for a coach is to prepare athletes, especially the young, to respond to success and failure in a dignified manner).
Advertising by the coach in respect of qualifications, training and/or services must be accurate and professionally restrained. The coach will be able to present evidence of current qualifications upon request. Evidence should also be available to support any claim associated with the promotion of their services.
The coach will not display any affiliation with an organisation in a manner that falsely implies sponsorship or accreditation by that organisation.
The coach will inevitably gather a great deal of personal information about clients in the course of a working relationship. Coach and client must reach an agreement about what is to be regarded as confidential information (i.e. not divulged to a third party without the express approval of the performer). the coach and their business will be and compliant with the current General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
Confidentiality does not preclude the disclosure of information about an athlete to persons who can be judged to have a right to know. For example:
- Evaluation for competitive selection purposes
- Recommendations for employment
- In pursuit of disciplinary action involving performers within the sport
- In pursuit of disciplinary action by a sports organisation against one of its members
- Legal and medical requirements for disclosure
- Recommendations to parents/family where the health and safety of performers might be at stake
- In pursuit of action to protect children from abuse
Abuse of Privilege
The sports coach is privileged to have regular contact with clients and occasionally to travel and reside with athletes in the course of coaching and competitive practice. A coach must not attempt to exert undue influence over the athlete to obtain personal benefit or reward.
The coach must consistently display high personal standards and project a favourable image of their sport and of coaching to athletes, their parents/families, other coaches, officials, spectators, the media and the public.
The coach should project an image of health, cleanliness and functional efficiency.
The coach should never smoke while coaching.
The coach should not drink alcohol so soon before coaching that it would affect their competence to coach, compromise the safety of the performers or indicate they had been drinking (e.g. the smell of alcohol on breath).
Within the limits of their control, the coach has a responsibility to ensure as for as possible the safety of the clients with whom they work.
All reasonable steps should be taken to establish a safe working environment.
The work is done and how it is done should be in keeping with the regular and approved practice within the BTF.
The activity undertaken should be suitable for the age, physical and emotional maturity, experience and ability of the clients.
The coach must protect children from harm and abuse.
The clients should have been systematically prepared for the activity and made aware of their responsibilities in terms of safety.
The coach should arrange adequate insurance to cover all aspects of their coaching practice.
The coach shall confine themselves to practice in those elements of sport for which their training and competence is recognised by the BTF. Training includes the accumulation of knowledge and skills through formal coach education courses, independent research and the accumulation of relevant verifiable experience.
The approved BTF coaching awards provide the framework for assessing competence at the different levels of coaching practice. Competence to coach should normally be verified through evidence of qualifications. Competence cannot be inferred solely from the evidence of prior experience.
The coach must be able to recognise and accept when to refer clients to other coaches or agencies. It is their responsibility, as for as possible, to verify the competence and integrity of any other person to whom they refer an athlete.
The coach should regularly seek ways of increasing their personal and professional development.
The coach should welcome evaluation of their work by colleagues and be able to account to their athletes, employers, BTF and colleagues for what they do and why.
The coach has a responsibility to themselves and their athletes to maintain their effectiveness, resilience and abilities. They should recognise when their resources are so depleted that help is needed. This may necessitate the withdrawal from coaching temporarily or permanently.