Legal Requirements for Sports Coaching

As a sports coach are there any legal requirements which I must adhere to?

Often people who involve themselves in sport as coaches are directly involved with young children and vulnerable individuals. Accordingly they must be subject to appropriate checks as to their suitability to work in this environment such as Criminal Record Bureau and Vetting and Barring schemes required by the individual sport.

In order to be a coach for a particular sport within the UK it is likely that you will be required to achieve certain qualifications. For example if you wish to coach tennis within England you will be required at attain the required level of coaching certificate of qualification from the National Governing Body of Tennis in England.  

Therefore, there will be certain requirements and laws from the particular sport which you wish to become a coach in regarding the behaviour and standards of coaching.

Are there any general laws which I should be aware of?

Code of Ethics and Conduct for Sports Coaches

The Code of Ethics and Conduct for Sports Coaches has been developed by the National Foundation for the Code of Ethics which was published by the British Institute of Sports Coaches (BISC). Furthermore it also follows European Union direction as it adopts the principles contained within the Council of Europe’s Code of Sports Ethics.

The British Institute of Sports Coaches (BISC) Code formed the value statement which underpins the National Vocational Qualification Standards for Coaching, Teaching and Instructing.

Does the code form part of any legislation?

The code is simply a framework within with to work and is to be used as a series of guidelines rather than as a set of instructions. Consequently it is not part of any existing legislation. All coaches in the UK should, however, be aware of it as a course of good practice.

What does the Code say?

The code details various areas and issues with which all sports coaches are expected to conform to. These ethical standards cover a number of areas including the following:

  • Humanity
  • Relationships
  • Commitment
  • Cooperation
  • Integrity
  • Advertising
  • Confidentiality
  • Abuse of privilege
  • Safety
  • Competence


  • Coaches must respect the rights, dignity and worth of every human and their ultimate right to self-determination.
  • Coaches must treat everyone equally and with sensitivity within the context of their ability and the activity which they undertake. Particularly this must be done regardless of gender, ethnic origin, cultural background, sexual orientation, religion of political affliction.


  • Coaches must be concerned primarily with the well-being safety, protection and future of the individual.
  • One of the key elements in a relationship between coach and individual is for the coach to develop the notion of independence with the individual athlete or performer. The individual must be encouraged to accept responsibility for their own behaviour and performance in both training and competition.
  • As the relationship between coach and individual is a working relationship, the boundaries of this must be monitored by the coach especially when the individual is a young person.
  • In certain sports and activities physical contact by a coach is necessary. If this is the case then the coach must ensure that no action on their part could be misconstrued and that any requisite National Governing Body (NGB) guidelines are followed.
  • As the relationship between coach and individual performer of athlete relies heavily on mutual trust and respect the coach should make the performer immediately aware of the coach’s qualifications and experience and must be given the opportunity to consent to or decline proposals for training, performance or competition.


  • Coaches should clarify in advance with individuals the number of sessions, fees and method of payments.  They should also explore with individuals their expectations from the coaching sessions.
  • If the coach has any other coaching commitments these should be disclosed to the individual and vice versa.
  • If at any stage there becomes a conflict between the coach’s obligations to an individual and to the National Governing Body which they adhere to they should immediately make clear this conflict to all parties involved.


  • Coaches must communicate and cooperate with other sports and allied professions in the best interests of the individual under their coaching. For example they should communicate with the education authorities and career counselors in relation to young performers whose involvement in sport may affect their studies. Coaches should also seek sports science advice through the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES).

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For more information on:

  • Integrity
  • Advertising
  • Confidentiality
  • Abuse of Privilege
  • Safety
  • Competence