Coaching in the UK

Body Image in Sport - an update from sports coach UK

The spectre of body image has haunted women’s sport for more than a generation, but has been brought into sharp focus recently due to media and social media attention on a number of high-profile women athletes. It is only now that the real extent of the problem is being highlighted. This document outlines our reaction both to the short- and the long-term issues.

Putting the athlete first
We believe that athletes should be judged solely on the basis of their performance in sport. We know that concerns about body image can have a negative effect on someone’s participation in sport. These concerns are most commonly experienced by girls and young women. The impact is widely recognised as a factor in the drop-off in participation among teenage girls, which in turn has an impact on the quest for a healthier, more active nation.

The coach’s role
Coaches play a crucial role in the development of sport and in the lives of the athletes they coach. Good coaches ensure that all participants have positive experiences and are therefore more likely to stay involved, continue to develop and achieve their potential. Coaches have a responsibility to respect and champion the right of every individual to participate in sport. They also have a responsibility to promote the welfare of their athletes.

What sports coach UK is doing in this area
As the lead agency for sports coaching in the UK, sports coach UK is taking action in four distinct areas:

  • Highlighting the importance of the issue via existing channels of communication

  • Promoting our Code of Practice for  Sports Coaches

  • Updating our workshops and online resources, including re-training of tutors

  • Targeted recruitment of female coaches.

More detail on each of these areas is given in the Body Image statement.

Not just for girls
Finally, we recognise that although the issue of body image is most often associated with teenage girls and young women, the concerns may be shared by men and women of all ages. Much of the abuse and unwelcome attention comes from those outside sport and is outside our control. What we have done, and can continue to do, is to help and encourage coaches to understand the problem, recognise the insecurities felt by many participants and act in such a way as to support their athletes in their enjoyment of sport.




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