Online coaching and use of social media during coronavirus
Advice for using digital apps and social media in sports and training.

Many clubs and governing bodies are turning to online coaching and social media to support children and young people to continue to enjoy sport and train, at this time.  Keeping children connected to the activities they enjoy, the relationships they have with their team mates and coaches has big benefits for their physical and emotional health.

Digital apps and social media

Some Governing Bodies and clubs will be setting up apps or using other digital means of communication to facilitate ongoing training and for children and young people to stay in touch with each other. These can be a fantastic resource, but they do also bring with them an element of risk and it is important that parents/carers and sports organisations continue to demonstrate vigilance to safeguard children and young people. Governing Bodies and clubs should be mindful of:
  • Always refer to the Social Media Policy of your governing body or club.
  • Be mindful of the age of young athletes and social media access. Children under the age of 13 should not be accessing certain platforms (a full list is detailed below).
  • Written permission from parents/carers should be sought before communicating by social media with children and young people who are under 16. Parents/carers of children and young people who are over 16 should be informed that your organisation will be communicating with their child in this way. 
  • If you are an adult, do not add children and young people to your personal social media pages. If a child or young person adds you, you should decline and direct them to your sport specific pages.
  • All concerns about the inappropriate use of social media should be managed in line with your organisation’s Responding to Concerns about a Child Procedure. 

 

Guidance for coaching online

Existing social media policies should still be followed but may need to be adapted to support online coaching.  The risk to children and young people has the potential to increase online and therefore  a risk assessment should be conducted. The following additional safeguards are good practice and should be considered:

  • Parental consent should be sought, as noted above, prior to on-line coaching commencing.  In addition conversations should take place amongst all parties involved to discuss expectations around behaviour and boundaries. This includes parents, children and young people, coaches and any others involved in the activity.
  • The parents email address or phone number should be used for any communications regarding the on-line coaching schedule.  There should be no direct communication between the child and coach outside of this.
  • In the same way that coaches should avoid delivering to children and young people away from others at clubs or training grounds this principle should also apply on-line. Where it is feasible, more than one coach should deliver sessions. Settings to allow coaches and children and young people to be on screen at the same time should be used.
  • Where ever feasible children and young people should participate in their coaching session in an open environment where supervision by parents/carers is possible.
  • Where age appropriate parents should be present during sessions.
  • Children and young people should participate in sessions in suitable clothing.  Swim wear, leotards etc. should be avoided.
  • Be mindful that instances of bullying can still take place online and should be dealt with through the anti-bullying policies in place within your Governing Body or Club.
  • It is important to remind coaches that they continue to have a duty of care to children and young people to whom they are providing on-line coaching sessions. They are entering people’s homes virtually which means that may potentially witness behaviour which places a child or young person at risk of harm. In this situation coaches should follow responding to concerns procedures as normal.
  • It is important that everyone, including parents/carers and children, understand what to do if they have a concern and who to speak to.  Raising awareness about how to go about this might include communications from the club and Governing Body or the Child Wellbeing and Protection Officer dialling in to on-line coaching sessions on occasion.
  • If a concern is raised to the club or governing body that a child or young person is being harmed, all normal procedures should be followed in line with Governing Body or Club policy. If a child is at immediate risk of harm, statutory agencies should be immediately alerted.