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15 Jul 2020 4,109

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: We’re here for the coach

Statement regarding the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Updated 15 July 2020.

As you will see from the Government’s recent announcement, current restrictions on recreational sport, outdoor pools, gym and leisure facilities are being further lifted in England.

As cited by Sport England, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, announced that:

  • indoor gyms, leisure facilities and swimming pools will be able to reopen from 25 July
  • outdoor pools and cricket were able to begin from 11 July
  • the return of team sports will be facilitated by the relevant national governing body of sport having their own sport-specific guidance approved by the government

What does this update mean for personal trainers and coaches?

As it stands in England:

‘If you are a personal trainer/coach you can work with clients outdoors [in public spaces like parks and in private gardens], providing you are meeting no more than five other people from outside of your household and you follow social distancing guidelines’.

‘You can meet with different clients in a single day, if it is in gatherings of no more than six and you are maintaining social distancing’.

‘You should also enforce strong hygiene measures’.

NB You are advised to check whether local restrictions regarding COVID-19 are in in place in your area that could supersede the above advice, eg Leicester. Further ‘local lockdowns’ are very possible in future.

We suggest that coaches, who are coaching in England, continue to fully read, understand and adhere to the latest Government advice and follow the key points below:

  • The coaching activity takes place in a wide-open space, outdoors or in a private garden.
  • The coaching activity is between one coach and up to five participants.
  • The coach and their participants remain two metres (six feet) away from each other (and others in the vicinity) at all times.
    • You are at higher risk of being directly exposed to respiratory droplets released by someone talking or coughing when you are within two metres of someone and have face-to-face contact with them. You can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side rather than facing people. 
  • There is no physical contact between the coach and their participants, eg handshakes, ‘high-fives’, etc.
  • Good hand hygiene is observed, ie hands are washed before and after the coaching activity; and hand sanitiser gel is used at intervals during the coaching activity.
  • The coach should ensure that participants avoid sharing the same equipment. Additionally, kit and equipment should be washed and sanitised regularly.
  • Coaches and participants should avoid touching their faces.
  • Coaches, who have participants under the age of 18 or who are deemed to be a vulnerable adult, should seek consent from a parent/guardian or other responsible adult, as well as arrange appropriate drop-off and pick-up strategies, and ensure their participants have clearly defined equipment and kit to avoid contamination with others. 
  • Coaches whose participants have been shielding should read the latest updated guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.

If a coach or their participants show symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), eg a new continuous cough; a high temperature; loss of taste and or smell, they and their household should isolate at home and cancel any scheduled coaching activity.

The NHS provides further information on what to do if you or anyone you have been in contact with is showing symptoms.

Coaches in Northern IrelandScotland and Wales should refer to specific updates from their devolved administrations and their respective Home Country Sports Councils.

What does this update mean for coaches of recreational teams and clubs?

Per the Government’s ‘Return to recreational team sport framework’, coaches of recreational teams and clubs will need to wait until they hear from their respective governing body of sport to ascertain when they might be able to return to playing/coaching and in what capacity. See what the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has prepared in light of the Government approving the return of recreational cricket.

As it stands:

‘Each individual sport will submit to the government (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) an action plan and any related guidance, demonstrating its mitigations, how it plans to operate, and any adaptations required’.

‘Action plans and guidance should be submitted for review to Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport at: [email protected]. National governing bodies will receive confirmation of receipt of the action plans and guidance and confirmation when they have been approved’.

‘Guidance for team sports that has been cleared by Public Health England/Health and Safety Executive will be linked on GOV.UK. If guidance is not linked on GOV.UK, then the sport has not been cleared to restart’.

‘Each club must only return to sport when they have the appropriate measures in place as developed by the NGB (national governing body of sport) and general government guidance in relation to recreational sport’.

‘All recreational clubs must develop a written COVID-19 plan and risk assessment prior to activity. Preparation must include those in charge of the session taking part in specific training, as necessary, and participants being asked to consider if their underlying health, may caution against participation. A checklist to support clubs to put the appropriate measures in place will be made available. All the above documents must be promulgated to all coaches, assistant coaches and welfare officers’.

Further information on the restart of recreational team and club sports, including the key principles that must be followed prior to activity taking place; during activity; and for facility usage can be found in the framework.

What does this mean for coaches who work in grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities?  

In the Government’s guidance for ‘Providers of grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities’, the following main points relate to coaches (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • '2.1.3. Contact while using facilities'

'Objective: To ensure distancing among workers/volunteers and customers when using sports and leisure facilities'.

'Social distancing should be maintained between all users of facilities including individuals, groups, teams, teachers, trainers and coaches unless users come from the same household or to manage needs on account of a disability when additional mitigation will be essential'.

'Steps that will usually be needed:'

'6. Having clearly designated positions from which colleagues or coaches/volunteers leading activity can provide advice or assistance to customers whilst maintaining social distance'.

  • '4.6. Visiting instructors, coaches, teachers, and management'

'Objective: To ensure safe practices for visiting instructors and supervisors that rotate across sports venues and leisure facilities'.

'Steps that will usually be needed:'

  1. 'Considering limiting the number of classes that rotating instructors teach in order to minimise exposure'.
  2. 'Determining the number of facilities they are comfortable with instructors rotating amongst in order to minimise exposure and establishing a system for monitoring this'.
  3. 'Given the high risk of transmission from visiting instructors, where possible, establishing a private testing programme for rotating/visiting instructors'.
  • '10.3. Training for returning to activity'

'Objective: To make sure all volunteers are trained on COVID-19-related safety procedures and feel safe to return to activity'.

'Steps that will usually be needed:'

  1. 'Identifying which roles need new processes and procedures, such as for hygiene or social distancing. Core training is available for free for all volunteers through Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity'.
  2. 'Using the guidance produced by national governing bodies of sport to provide sport-specific guidance for volunteer coaches and leaders. This information can be accessed through the Sport England Return to Play'.
  • '10.4. Wellbeing and inclusion'

'Objective: To ensure that the environment is inclusive, and that the wellbeing of volunteers is considered and continuously monitored'.

'Maintain awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19). Free Mental Health Awareness training for voluntary coaches is available from MIND through UK Coaching'.

Coaches involved with elite sport should consult the Government’s ‘Elite sport return to training guidance: Stage One and Stage Two’, as well as ‘return to domestic competition guidance and return to cross border competition guidance.

Head to our coaching community ConnectedCoaches to contribute to a thread on how coaching whilst maintaining social distancing will work for you. Additionally, if you register at ukcoaching.org you can download a series of infographics containing questions to help you plan for your return to coaching, and watch our free Returning to Coaching #Time2Learn webinar on-demand. 

Further information to support coaches at this time will be released shortly.