Coaching Association of Canada

Responsible Coaching Movement

  • 3 Steps to Responsible Coaching
  • Keeping Sport Healthy and Safe

For Coaches who work with Children in Sport

Coaches across Canada give athletes the benefit of their knowledge, enthusiasm and passion in sport. Coaches dedicate their time to helping youth build confidence, self-esteem, and foster positive body image development through participation in sport.

Coaches have many responsibilities and one of them is to ensure they provide a safe environment for the athlete and for themselves. When athletes and athletes’ parents entrust a coach as a leader they assume they have taken steps to become a responsible coach which includes implementing the 3 steps to Responsible Coaching.

When parents ask, “Have you taken the 3 steps to Responsible Coaching?”, here is how you can say “Yes.”

The 3 steps to Responsible Coaching supports coaches with the training and knowledge they need to ensure that participation in sport occurs in a safe, healthy, and fun environment.

  • Rule of Two
  • Background Screening
  • Ethics Training

What are the 3 steps to Responsible Coaching?

  • Step 1: Follow the Rule of Two

    This means that the coach is never alone or out of sight with your child.

    Two NCCP trained or certified coaches should always be present with an athlete, especially a minor athlete, when in a potentially vulnerable situation such as in a locker room or meeting room. All one-on-one interactions between a coach and an athlete must take place within earshot and in view of the second coach except for medical emergencies.

    One of the coaches must also be of the same gender as the athlete.

    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.

  • Step 2: Complete your Background Screening

    The background screening ensures that coaches meet the important requirements to coach athletes. Screening tools include comprehensive job postings, criminal record checks, interviews, and reference checks.

    Coaches can complete their criminal record check screening with their local police department or by visiting SterlingTalent Solutions.

    Note: If you opt to do your criminal record check screening with Sterling Talent Solutions, you will have to take your Vulnerable Sector Screening through your local police department.

  • Step 3: Enroll in Ethics Training

    Ethics training prepares coaches to effectively handle situations that arise from ethical dilemmas or even legal challenges that concern individuals, teams, and their sports organizations.

    Ethics training includes theMake Ethical Decisions module within the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), as well as training in abuse and harassment prevention, such as Respect in Sport, which can be taken before and during their coaching career.

    By successfully completing the NCCPMake Ethical Decisions (MED) training, coaches will be fully equipped to handle ethical situations with confidence and surety. NCCPMake Ethical Decisions training helps coaches identify the legal, ethical, and moral implications of difficult situations that present themselves in the world of team and individual sport.

    Respect in Sport training empowers coaches and parents to recognize and prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD).

    There are two ways to complete ethics training:

    A) In-class workshop: To participate in an in-class NCCPMake Ethical Decisions module, please contact your local Provincial/Territorial Coaching Representative.

    B) Home-study: Some provinces and territories offer the NCCPMake Ethical Decisions module through home study. Please contact your local Provincial/Territorial Coaching Representative for more information.

    Respect in Sport training is also delivered through interactive, online home-study.

    Please contact your sport governing body for requirements within your sport.

Additional responsible coaching tools and information

Respect in Sport training

Training for coaches and parents that empowers them to recognize and prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD) through interactive, online certification.

Check with your sport governing body for their requirements for Respect in Sport training.

Responsible Coaching Resources for Coaches:

Information, tools, and resources for coaches who want to learn more about the Responsible Coaching Movement.

Q & A for Coaches about Responsible Coaching

  • What is the Responsible Coaching Movement?

    The Responsible Coaching Movement (RCM) is a multi-phase system-wide movement, coordinated by the Coaching Association of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport that has the potential to affect all sport organizations and coaches. The RCM is a call to action for organizations to implement realistic change based on their individual state of readiness.

    Phase 1 of the RCM addresses the gaps identified through consultation with stakeholders that indicate there is a lack of uniform policies, a lack of club capacity, a limited communication strategy, a lack of a tracking mechanism for coaches, and a lack of a coordinated approach by sport organizations to address responsible coaching practices have all contributed to permitting instances of unethical behaviour in sport. 

    The goal is to make sport safer for children and the vulnerable sector. Although advances in athlete protection in the past twenty years have decreased instances of athlete maltreatment in amateur sport, incidents of athlete abuse, harassment by coaches, and risks to athlete safety have continued to occur.

    The Responsible Coaching Movement focuses on three key areas:

  • How can I find out if my sport organization has taken the RCM Pledge?

    The Coaching Association of Canada maintains a list of organizations that have taken the RCM Pledge. The goal of the RCM is to promote a safe sport environment and support Sport Organizations to proactively and voluntarily take measures to ensure the safety of their sport. By taking the pledge, organizations are making a commitment to ensuring that they have policies and procedures in place that protect athletes and coaches in their organization and sport. A list of organizations that have taken the pledge can be found here.

  • As a coach, what is my role in the RCM?

    Coaches play a vital role in ensuring their athletes are safe both on and off the field of play. Below are ways coaches can protect both yourself and your athletes:

    • Ensure your organization has taken the RCM Pledge.
    • Support your organization to have key policies such as Travel Policy and Code of Conduct and that these are current and enforced.
    • Ensure all coaches and volunteers are appropriately screened.
    • Encourage coaches and volunteers to take the Commit2Kids, Respect in Sport and Make Ethical Decisions training.
  • What are some ways that I, as a coach, can support the Rule of Two?

    • With your athletes, identify situations that may make them vulnerable and discuss ways to deal with them.
    • When identifying your coaching team, consider the demographics of your athletes and try to ensure appropriate composition of staff.
    • When travel is necessary, avoid situations where there is only one coach/volunteer with a single minor athlete. If this is not possible, then ensure that the coach/volunteer has been appropriately screened (link to screening matrix), the athlete is comfortable with the individual, and parental consent is given. As soon as possible when arriving at the destination, and during the event, find a “buddy” coach/volunteer to associate with during the event and when away from the venue.
    • Self-identify situations during practice and competition that may put you or your athletes in a vulnerable situation and consider ways to avoid or alter the environment.
    • Encourage parents to appropriately support their children’s involvement.
    • Allow training environments to be open to observation by parents.
    • Ensure an open and observable environment for all interactions between adults and athletes.
    • Avoid private or one-on-one situations unless in an emergency. Leave the office door open or have the conversation in a visible but removed part of the facility.