Coaching Ethics

Each of the four principles is followed by a brief description and a list of ethical standards illustrating how that principle applies to the activities of coaches. These standards are grouped by key words that are an important part of the overall principle.

I. Respect for Participants
The principle of respect 2 for participants3 challenges coaches to act in a manner respectful of the dignity4 of all participants in sport. Fundamental to this principle is the basic assumption that each person has value and is worthy of respect.

II. Responsible Coaching
The principle of responsible coaching carries the basic ethical expectation that the activities of coaches will benefit society in general and participants in particular and will do no harm. Fundamental to the implementation of this principle is the notion of competence - responsible coaching (maximizing benefits and minimizing risks to participants) is performed by coaches who are "well prepared and current"10 in their discipline.

III. Integrity in Relationships
Integrity means that coaches are expected to be honest, sincere, and honourable in their relationships with others. Acting on these values is most possible when coaches possess a high degree of self-awareness and the ability to reflect critically13 on how their perspectives influence their interactions with others.

IV. Honouring Sport
The principle of honouring sport challenges coaches to recognize, act on, and promote the value of sport for individuals and teams and for society in general.


  1. The approach, structure, and contents of this code were inspired by the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists, 1991. For a detailed guide to this code and how it was developed, see Carole Sinclair and Jean Pettifor, editors, Companion Manual to the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists, 1991 (Chelsea, Que.: Canadian Psychological Association 1992). Many of the ideas for ethical standards were drawn from numerous other codes. The most significant of these were developed by the Association québécoise des entraîneurs professionnels en sport, The British Institute of Sport Coaches, and Promotion Plus, Women in Coaching Committee, British Columbia.
  2. Respect: consideration of the dignity of others; courteous regard
  3. Participants: those taking part in sport, e.g. athletes and their family members, coaches, officials, volunteers, administrators
  4. Dignity: self-respect; self-worth
  5. Worthy: having worth, value, or merit; deserving praise; valuable; noble; estimable; virtuous; legitimate
  6. Condition: a provision or stipulation called for as a requirement for participation or competition; a prerequisite; anything that modifies or restricts the nature of participation
  7. Discreet: prudent; cautious; wary; careful about what one says or does
  8. Empowerment: the act of enabling or state of being enabled
  9. Family: those persons who are identified by an athlete as providing familial support, whether or not they are biologically related
  10. Integrity Makes True Champions: The Coaching Code of Ethics (Gloucester, Ont.: Coaching Association of Canada, Canadian Association of National Coaches, 1993).
  11. Beneficence: an ideal or principle of conduct that requires us to act in a way that benefits others. Such benefit might take the form of preventing or removing harm, or acting directly to produce a good. The same training, skills, and powers coaches use to produce benefits are also capable of producing harm.
  12. Collaboration: a process through which parties such as members of an interdisciplinary team (e.g. trainer, psychologist, masseuse, team captain) work together on problems and issues to develop solutions that go beyond their limited visions of what is possible. Collaboration is based on the simple adage that two heads are better than one and that one by itself is not good enough. See Barbara Gray, Collaborating: Finding Common Ground for Multiparty Problems. (London, England: Jossey-Bass Publishers 1989)
  13. In coaching, critical reflection questions existing assumptions about the values and practices that govern coaches' actions. The essential component of critical reflection is an attitude based on (i) open-mindedness, i.e. an active predisposition to hear more than one side of an issue; (ii) active inquiry, i.e. asking why things are done the way they are; and (iii) sincerity, i.e. coaches being genuine in their coaching relationships. HIV/AIDS Education for Nurses: Practice Issues and Curriculum Guidelines (Ottawa: Canadian Nurses Association 1992).
  14. The Canadian Centre for Drug-Free Sport has designed a major campaign under the theme of the spirit of sport. At the heart of their message is the premise that inherent in sport are all the strengths, values, and qualities necessary to overcome the incursion of performance-enhancing drugs. Sport is strong and it gives (or can give) strength to those who participate. This theme embraces the fundamental positive aspects of sport, is non-blaming and non-moralistic, and emphasizes the positive attributes of sport. Manifest Communications Inc., "Draft Strategy for A National Educational Campaign to Promote Drug-Free Sport in Canada" (Document prepared for Canadian Centre for Drug-Free Sport, Ottawa, April 1993).