Creating a healthy and safe sport environment, both on and off the field of play, will benefit all participants. Whether you’re a coach, administrator or parent, we all have a role to play in making sport a fun and rewarding experience.
This three-part blog series will provide tools and resources to strengthen safety and ethical values in sport by introducing the Responsible Coaching Movement (RCM). While the majority of coaches are dedicated to the overall wellbeing of their athletes, the RCM is a call to action that has the potential to positively affect all sport organizations and coaches across Canada by ensuring that athletes, especially minors, are protected from abuse, harassment, and other safety risks.
The Responsible Coaching Movement is coordinated by the Coaching Association of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. Sport stakeholder consultations identified a number of shortcomings that contributed to instances of unethical behaviour, including a lack of uniform policies, volunteer turn-over at the club level, limited club capacity, poor communication, a gap in tracking mechanisms for coaches, and the lack of a coordinated approach to promote and support responsible coaching practices.
As a result, the RCM was developed and focuses on three key areas to support the positive development of safe sport:
This first blog will focus on the importance of the Rule of Two. Be on the lookout for subsequent blogs on Background Screening (July 2018) and Respect and Ethics (August 2018).
What is the Rule of Two?
The Rule of Two serves to protect minor athletes in potentially vulnerable situations, as well as the quality coaches working in our communities, by ensuring that more than one adult is present.
The goal of the Rule of Two is for organizations to always have two screened and National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) trained or certified coaches with an athlete, especially a minor athlete, when in a potentially vulnerable situation. Vulnerable situations can include closed doors meetings, travel, and remote training environments.
Implementing the Rule of Two means that any one-on-one interaction between a coach and an athlete, both on and off of the field of play, must take place within earshot and view of the second coach, with the exception of medical emergencies. One of the coaches must also be of the same gender as the athlete. Organizations are encouraged to ensure that those individuals in supervisory roles are appropriate for, and acceptable to, the individual athlete. Further information on creating a safe and inclusive environment for gender diverse athletes can be found HERE. Should there be a circumstance where a second screened and NCCP trained or certified coach is not available, a screened volunteer, parent, or adult can be recruited.
Tips to support the Rule of Two
Let’s take a closer look at how the Rule of Two can be implemented within your sport environment. Whatever the role you play, here’s what you can do to limit the instances that put athletes at risk of being in vulnerable situations:
Avoid private or one-on-one situations unless in an emergency. Leave the office door open or have the conversation in a part of the facility that’s within eye site.
As a coach, self-identify situations that may put you or your athletes in a vulnerable situation and consider ways to avoid or alter the environment. Make this a regular practice.
As an organization, if you see the Rule of Two as an obstacle, invite team members, including your athletes to brainstorm solutions.
As an administrator, when selecting your coaching team, consider the demographics of your athletes to ensure appropriate composition of staff.
When travel is necessary, avoid situations where there is only one coach/volunteer with a single athlete. Prior to traveling to the event, make arrangements with other organizations to find a “buddy” coach/volunteer to associate with during the event and when away from the venue. Ensure the coach/volunteer has been appropriately screened, the athlete is comfortable with the individual, and parental consent is given.
As a parent, you’re encouraged to play a proactive role by asking your child’s coach if their organization has taken the RCM pledge and adopted the responsible coaching policies.
If you have concerns about a coach’s interaction with your child or another participant, contact the coach’s supervisor or someone from the organization’s management team to address your concerns. If a child’s safety is a concern, contact your local authorities.