Coaches should not see their players as chessmen that they can move as they please. Young players are not the coach’s pawns to simply be moved and directed by the coach. They are people that have, and know, their rights. No coach will be respected if they do not, in turn, respect their athletes.

An athlete-centred approach recognizes that through sport coaches play a central role in the development of children that will impact in all areas of their lives, and that it is through their expertise that the coach makes a contribution to the achievement of outcomes by the athletes. Coaching is no longer, if indeed it ever really was, about the achievement of the coach. The achievements of the coach are merely a reflection of the achievement of the athlete.

Player’s RIghts

It is now widely accepted and acknowledged that players, and particularly junior athletes, have the following rights:

  • The right to participate in sports competitions.
  • The right to participate in competitions whose level is suitable to the abilities of each child.
  • The right to have a qualified coach.
  • The right to play as a child or teenager and not as an adult.
  • The right to take part in making decisions about their sports activity.
  • The right to practice their activity in a safe and healthy environment.
  • The right to receive appropriate preparation in order to be able to compete.
  • The right to be treated with dignity.
  • The right to have fun while practicing sports.


From these rights we recognize four guiding principles which coaches must embrace and that when followed will lead to appropriate behaviours in sport.

Coaches should also hold parents and athletes accountable to also abide by these behaviours:

  • Fairness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Safety

Fairness does not imply, for example, that all players have exactly equal playing time – although that might be an approach which a coach takes, particularly with very young players. However, fairness does require that the coach is open and “transparent” about how they make decisions.

It would not be fair to stop a player from playing because they missed training, unless the coach has first set the expectation that all players must attend training and that missing training would mean that they would not play.

These guiding principles apply equally outside of a sporting context and are important lessons for athletes to learn.

International Sport Coaching Framework, Version 1.2, Human Kinetics, p9