Code of Conduct for Coaches and Athletes

When you attend training and events we expect you to act in a sensible way, be responsible for your own behaviour and do as coaches and officials ask. Serpentine is your club and we'd like you to make the most of what we offer, but not at the expense of others.


  • The purpose of this Code of Practice is to uphold standards of ethical behaviour for both coaches and athletes. The components of ethical behaviour are: integrity, responsibility, competence and confidentiality.
  • It complements, but does not supersede, the Codes of Practice and stated welfare policies of UK Athletics or the British Triathlon Federation, and has been written to reflect the particular character of Serpentine Running Club.
  • Club members participating in coached group sessions or receiving personal coaching from the club's qualified coaches will be deemed to have accepted the Code and those of UK Athletics, and to endorse and subscribe to the principles and responsibilities embodied in them.
  • "A coach" in this context is anyone qualified by UKA or BTF to coach; "an athlete" is anyone participating in any coached session with Serpentine Running Club or receiving personal coaching from any of its coaches.
  • The athlete-coach relationship is a two-way relationship where the athlete's well-being comes first. The core of the relationship is a mutual commitment by both the athlete and coach, to the sport in general and to athletics training in particular.
  • Coaches and athletes agree that participating in, or continuing a training session, is a decision that can only be made each individual athlete; coaches will not exert undue pressure on athletes, beyond reasonable encouragement. Bullying, use of critical language and sarcasm, or otherwise undermining any athlete's self-esteem are totally unacceptable.
  • Coaches will treat everyone whom they are coaching or who is participating in a coached session with equal dignity and respect, irrespective of their ability, gender, age, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or political persuasion.
  • Athletes and coaches will treat each other with mutual trust and respect.
  • The coach may collect a great deal of personal information about an athlete in order to help her/him achieve her/his goals. The coach and athlete must reach agreement on what will be considered confidential and the coach must respect that agreement.

Roles and Responsibilities

The coach will:

  • Respect the rights, dignity and worth of every athlete, regardless of background or ability;
  • Place the welfare and safety of the athlete above the development of performance;
  • Challenge inappropriate behaviour or language by others;
  • Never put themselves in a position where exploitation or abuse of vulnerable athletes could occur or could have been thought to have occurred;
  • Ensure that they are properly qualified for activities that they coach and update their licence and education as and when required by UK Athletics;
  • Whilst in a coaching role, strictly observe a clear boundary between friendship and intimacy with athletes;
  • Never try to recruit, either covertly or overtly, athletes who are already receiving coaching;
  • Turn up in good time for each session and/or assure that there is adequate cover for each session provided, or adequate notice of cancellation;
  • In advance, clarify the content and purpose of a particular session;
  • Lead sessions with enthusiasm and to the best of their abilities, consistently promoting the positive aspects of the sport (e.g. health and social benefits and fair play) and never condoning rule violations or use of prohibited or harmful substances, such as tobacco, narcotics and performance-enhancing drugs;
  • Act as a good role model by consistently displaying good standards of behaviour, appearance and safe training practise in their own training;
  • Always ask the athlete's permission and explain the reason why before touching the athlete;
  • Co-operate fully with other colleagues (e.g. other coaches, officials, team managers, doctors, physiotherapists, governing bodies) in the best interests of the athlete;
  • Listen and be sensitive to athletes' concerns and make them a primary concern when prescribing the training session;
  • Make clear the limits of their commitment, and any reasons why they may refuse to coach any particular athlete;
  • Invite and listen to feedback from the athletes they are coaching;
  • Recognise and accept when it is in the athlete's interest to refer athletes to other, more qualified coaches or other specialists for advice; and
  • Report any suspected misconduct by other coaches to the appropriate authorities (the Club's Welfare Officer, UK Athletics, police, as appropriate).

The athlete will:

  • Accept responsibility for their own behaviour and performance in training and in competition;
  • Treat others with fairness and respect, showing patience with others and respecting diversity;
  • Act in a dignified manner and not bring the sport or the club into disrepute;
  • Avoid swearing and abusive language and irresponsible behaviour including behaviour that is dangerous to yourself or others, acts of violence, bullying, harassment and physical or sexual abuse;
  • Participate in sessions with enthusiasm and to the best of their abilities;
  • Inform their coach of any other coaching they are receiving;
  • Follow the coaches' instructions, including taking responsibility for reading the briefings and risk assessment for the session;
  • Turn up in good time for the start of the session with suitable footwear and gear, and with adequate arrangements for post-training re-hydration and nutrition made;
  • Let the coach know of any factors liable to have an impact on their ability to train or compete or their long-term health (e.g. wellness or health issues, medication, injury, illness, impending or recent competition, work or home pressures);
  • Whilst in an athlete role, strictly observe a clear boundary between friendship and intimacy with the coach(es);
  • If junior, notify a responsible adult if you have to go somewhere (why, where and when you will return);
  • Avoid destructive behaviour and leave athletics venues as you find them;
  • Challenge anyone whose behaviour falls below these standards and those of UKA/BTF Welfare policies;
  • Report any suspected misconduct by other coaches to the Club's Welfare Officers in the first instance;
  • Give feedback to the coach on how the session felt for them and whether there are any consequential problems;
  • Take personal responsibility for warming up before the session and cooling down including stretching after the session;
  • Show appreciation to those throughout the club who help them participate in athletics, including the coaches;
  • Consistently promote positive aspects of the sport such as fair play and never condone rule violations or the use of prohibited or age-inappropriate substances;
  • Never place undue pressure on children to perform, participate or compete;

Additionally, parents or guardians will:

  • Ensure that your child does not take any unnecessary valuable items to training or competition;
  • Inform your child's coach of any illness or disability that needs to be taken into consideration for athletic performance;
  • Provide any necessary medication that your child needs;
  • Assume responsibility for safe transportation of your child to and from training and competition;
  • Report any concerns you have about your child's or any other child's welfare to the Club's Welfare Officers (this does not affect your right to contact your local social services or the police if you feel it is necessary);

Violation of the Code

Coaches or athletes wishing to allege breaches of the code should in the first instance contact the Club's Welfare Officers.