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The Sport Digest - ISSN: 1558-6448

Ethical Code for Coaches

A code of ethics is a tool that provides minimum standards of conduct expected of coaches as they mature into professionals. It is a tool to encourage coaches to provide common values and do their best in their jobs (Ring, 1992). In many studies related to the relationship between the moral education and competition concepts, it has been stated that there is a sensitive relationship between physical education and moral education in that physical education and athletic programs can be harmonious in the promotion and development of sportsmanlike behaviors, ethical decion-making skills, honesty and a total curriculum for moral character development (Bergman, 2000; Carry, 1998; Sabock,1985; Singleton, 2003; Stoll, 1995).

Robert, Priest, Krause and Besch(1999) carried out a study on 631 United States Military Academy students to determine if their ethical value selection for sports changed during their 4 year education. They concluded that attending sports classes and sports competition has a positive effect on ethical development and ethical choices of the students. Dealing with ethical issues is increasingly becoming a regular part of a coach’s duties. Coaches are being required to face issues such as sportsmanship, drugs in sport, cheating, bullying, eating disorders, respect for officials, abuse of power, harassment and judging when an athlete should return to sport after an injury. Given the important role that coaches play, the way a coach responds to these types of issues has an enormous impact on athletes. The coach’s actions can influence the athletes’ enjoyment of sport, their attitude towards others in the sport, their self esteem, and whether they continue to stay involved in sport.

Today, unethical behavior displayed in the area of coaching is diminishing the public image of coaching and sports. Many international sports communities and associations have determined the ethical codes of coaches in order for the coaches to do their duties with respect, honesty, objectivity and justice (American National Youth Sports Coaches Association, 2004;American Psychological Association, 1992; British Institute of Sports Coaches, 2001; Canadian Professional Coaches Association, 2003; International Coaches Federation, 2003; United Kingdom Coaching Strategy Association, 2002). These codes of conduct can be summarized as follows in two categorizes: responsibility and respect.

Responsibility Respect
1. He/she provides a healthy environment for competition and practices, 1. He/she avoids behavior that will diminish respect for the coach in society,
2. He/she continuously works to improve the development of the traits necessary in order to perform his/her job properly, 2. He/she does not exaggerate the capabilities he/she has,
3. He/she gives correct information in press conferences and other public settings, 3. He/she encourages fair play,
4. He/she directs injured athletes to medical treatment and acts according to the suggestions of the doctors, 4. He/she keeps the information related to the athletes (personal problems, problems related to the family,etc.) and his/her job (financial, recruitment policy etc.) confidential unless it is a required by law to do otherwise,
5. He/she provides help for the personal and family problems of the athletes, 5. He/she stresses the importance of honesty in competition,
6. He/she supports the other athletes than his/her own when they need help, 6. He/she respects the rules of the competition,
7. He/she respects each athlete’s being, 7. He/she is respectful to the written rules as well as unwritten rules (fair play),
8. He/she works cooperatively with any expert who could contribute to the development of the athletes, 8. He/she respects the decisions given by the referees during the competition,
9. He/she informs the athletes about how to behave during an interview, 9. He/she does not encourage the athletes or spectators to speak out against the referees,
10. He/she avoids training techniques that might be harmful for the athletes, 10. He/she always behaves in a controlled manner,
11. He/she shall be careful about the safety of the athletes when selecting equipment, 11. He/she does not use negative words in criticizing the other coaches and teams,
12. He/she keeps in mind the well being of the athletes when giving permission for returning the injured athletes to the competitions and should not allow them to return to the competitions before a complete recovery, 12. He/she takes responsibility in the areas he/she is confident,
13. He/she contributes to the development of the athletes by giving them responsibility when appropriate, 13. He/she does not criticize the athletes in public.
14. He/she informs the athletes about the harmful effects of drugs,  
15. In amateur sports, he/she should arrange practices that do not interfere with the time athletes need for education and academic developments,  
16. He/she communicates with the athletes and their families about their rights and responsibilities on the team,  
17. He/she emphasizes the importance of education to the athletes,  
18. He/she reminds athletes that winning is a result of a good teamwork,  
19. He/she explains the objectives of training to the athletes,  
20. He/she does not embarass or demean the athletes unduly when punishing them,  
21. He/she explains the objectives of the rules to be applied.  

The coach is central to value development as a role model and teacher of institutional norms (Wandzilak, 1985). To sum it up, coaches, as models for their athletes, play a very important role in developing sportsmanlike behaviors in young athletes.


American National Youth Sports Coaches Association. (2003). Coaches’ Code of Ethics. Retrieved March, 22, 2004. web, http://www.nays.org.

American Psychological Association (1992). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct .December. Vol, 47 No, 12

Bergmann, D.S. (2000). “The logical connection between moral education and physical education”. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 32, 4, P 561-573.

Canadian Professional Coaches Association (2003) Coaching Code of Ethics Principles and Ethical Standard Retrieved January 20, 2004. http://www.coach.ca/member/ethicse.htm.

Carry, D. (1998) What moral educational significance has physical education? A question in need of disambiguation, In M.J.McName and S.J. Parry (Eds). Ethics and Sport. P,119-133. London. E. And FNSPON.

International Coaches Federation (May, 2003) ICF Standard of Ethical Conduct. Retrieved October 25 2003. web, http://www.ıcfoffice.coachfederation.org.

Ring, J.J. (1992). An alliance to excellence –to preserve medical professionalism. Vital Speeches, 58 (12), 367,368.

Robert, F. Priest, J.V. Krause, J. Besch (1999).” Four year changes in college athletes ethical value choices in sports situations”. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 70, 2. P,170-178.

Sabock, R. (1985). Coach. (3rd ed). Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.

Singleton, E.C. (2003).” Rules? Relationships?: a feminist analysis of competition and fair play in physical education” QUEST, 55. P, 495-209.
Sports Medicine Australia (2003). Sports Trainers. Retrieved March,22, 2004. web, http://www.sma.org.au/about/ethics.asp

Stoll, S. K. (1995) Should we teach morality? The issue of moral education In A. Jewett L. Bain, and C.D. Ennis (Eds.), The curriculum process in physical education (2nd ed.) P 334.

The British Institute of Sports Coaches (2001) Code of Ethics for Athletics and Conduct for Sport Coaches Retrieved April 26, 2002, web, http://www.brainmac.demon.co.uk/ukethics.htm

The United Kingdom Coaching Strategy Association (2002, April).Sport Coach, Coaching. Retrieved April 26, 2002, web, http://www.brainmac.demon.co.uk/coaching.htm

Wandzilak, T. (1985) Values development through physical education and athletics. QUEST, 37, 176-185.