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Let’s face it. Coaching can be complicated. As a coach, you’re a mix of coach, parent, educator, and motivator. You see the promise in your athletes, pushing them to achieve things they might not have thought possible.

Celebrating their successes and counseling them through short-comings, you develop a close personal relationship with the athletes you train. You’re also a master of bringing many disciplines to the table when it comes to the development of your teams. There’s the strict physical development required to execute the sport, and you see your athletes through physical growth and developing special skills. Psychology is involved, too. There’s considerable mental preparation needed to bring out the best in your team.

Through all of this, how do you balance the requirements of excellent coaching while respecting person-hood and bodily autonomy? Step one, create a safe environment. By being aware and creating a safe environment for your athletes to be in, you help protect them from abuse. Take time to answer the questions below and then brainstorm more ways you specifically can create a safe environment in your training space.

  • Be aware of your corrective style: When you correct athletes, is it purely verbal corrections, or physical displays too?How often do you or your fellow coaches make physical corrections? How do you do it? Is it done in a way that is respectful of the athlete? Do the athletes know what to expect from such interactions?
  • Be aware of the policies of your organization or governing board: Are you aware of the current guidelines? Do you know where to find updates or policy recommendations? Are you bought into them?
  • Be aware of your team’s culture: Does your team create an atmosphere that allows the athlete to communicate concerns without fear of repercussions? While sport-specific coaching techniques may not be up for discussion, questions from your athletes about personal boundaries should always be allowed and encouraged. Remember, your goal should be to create a protective boundary that puts personal safety first.


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