Written by: Shereen Smith
Nowadays sport coaching has become so complex due to the effects of social media and crime, with drastic restrictions placed upon any video or photographic evidence as well as physical contact. This is why it is essential that all sport coaches enforce a responsible coaching stance. This initiative is starting to take on a life all over the world.
Where coaching used to be a fun place for kids to go and enjoy themselves, sadly this no longer holds true as our belief has been tainted that other adults will guard and protect our children. How do we change this?
We do this by ensuring that we follow responsible coaching acts and the guidelines of the sport federations, so that we ensure not only the safety of the children, but the safety of the sport coaches too.
One aspect that is prominent in the sport federations’ coaching levels training, is that no coaching staff member especially those of the opposite sex is left alone with a child especially in environments that may compromise the safety of the child.
This is especially applicable for all coaches in sports that have a high exposure interaction with children whereby they have to use physical / tactical correction touch or guidance through a movement or even when assisting that safety gear is used correctly. Sports such as Gymnastics, Sailing, Swimming, Fencing and even Archery face these kind of challenges.
Some federations have gone as far as requiring police clearance of a sport coach before he or she is allowed entry onto the sport federation’s Level Coaching Qualifications and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does question who is reviewing this and how they are processing these details.
Coaches dealing with grass level roots need to be aware of their behaviour and interaction with children as well as education of all those involved from children, volunteers, coaching staff and parents.
Creating an open and transparent environment whereby you invite the parent to come down to watch any training sessions they would like to attend. Even holding a first welcome session with both parents and children to identify appropriate behavior for all involved covering children interaction with coaches, parent interaction on the field directed towards other children or the coaches and of course coach interaction and the process anyone can follow where they feel that these interactions were not up held.
The key is education and the manner in which it is communicated; coaching intertwined with cognitive, physiological, social and holistic approaches that we need to be able to identify the situation to address it accordingly.
Children’s cognitive abilities are at a time where they go from idolizing their parents to a coach and this is a key focus for a long time before finally moving to conformation of acceptance of their peers. Coaches effectively are heroes and we need to walk our talk. The first step in doing that is to research and find out what your responsible coaching act is for the sport and country you reside in. This is the step to the change in the world that will allow for children to once again play freely.
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