What Every Athlete Should Know

It is important that an athlete “respect” their coach (teammates, staff and volunteers), but sometimes, they act in ways that can be harmful and hurtful to young athletes.

It is important for every athlete to understand what is unacceptable behavior and when to reach out to an adult to ask for help and guidance.

 Everyone needs to make sure sport is a safe and positive environment free of abuse, bullying and harassment.

 Every sports club should have an Athlete Welfare Advocate (AWA).  An AWA is not a coach.  The AWA is an adult who has volunteered to be available to any athlete who is concerned about the conduct of coaches, staff, volunteers or other athletes and wants to talk about what to do.  

If your sports club doesn’t have an AWA, you should seriously consider speaking to your parents or another adult in the club who you trust.

   When should you speak to an adult and ask for help?

  • Whenever something happens that to “you,” it is important that you speak up.  See the list below.doesn’t feel right 
  • Sometimes athletes are worried that if they complain about a situation with a coach or an adult, the coach will no longer like them or give them good instruction.  Or, you may think your teammates will get mad at you.  Don’t be afraid to speak up!  Everyone deserves respectful conduct.
  • If any of the following happens to you,you should speak up to protect yourself and your teammates:

No Bullying, Emotional or Verbal Abuse Allowed!

  • When an adult or another athlete who is bigger, stronger or older tries to make you do something wrong, makes you feel worthless or makes fun of you in order to embarrass you or make you feel bad
  • When someone yells at you, calls you names or swears at you
  • When someone pushes, shoves, punches, pinches or hurts you in any way
  • When someone tries to make you feel like you are a bad person
  • When someone repeatedly attempts to control your personal or social life

No Sexual Abuse! 

  • Sexual contact, sexual attention, and any other behavior with sexual overtones that make you uncomfortable and you do not want to have happen
  • Sex jokes, sexual cartoons or photos
  • If someone touches you inappropriately, tries to pinch, fondle or kiss you  
  • Someone talking to you about sex, asking you to have sex,  asking you to touch them or kiss them
  • Someone talks about your body or your dress or calls you “hot”
  • Emails, text messages or uses social media to talk about sex or suggest sexual things or send sexual photos
  • If anyone tries to hurt you sexually or forces you to touch them 

No Hazing, Initiation Rituals, or Physical Punishment!

  • No team is allowed to have an initiation ritual or make you think that you have to do something embarrassing to be accepted on the team 
  • Activities that ARE NOT ALLOWED:
  • pressuring you to drink alcohol, take drugs, or eat or drink something you don’t want to
  • giving you any substance for the purpose of improving performance
  • making you shave of any part of the body or take off clothes or show body parts
  • making you dress up and look silly
  • forcing you to do 100 sit-ups or run laps or do hard physical activity as punishment
  • asking you to perform a physical activity that is clearly beyond your ability and may cause injury 

No Romantic or Dating Relationships with Coaches!

  • Your coach must treat every athlete equally and should not be spending time alone with any athlete
  • The coach is your teacher and romantic relationships are NOT OK

Physical Contact!

A coach must always ask for permission prior to any touching of an athlete.  The following situations are generally accepted unless “you” the athlete feels uncomfortable:

  • when the coaches asks for permission to put a body part in a correct mechanical position or correct physical form;
  • a “high five” or pat on the head or back when congratulating an athlete for a good performance;
  • “spotting” or any protective coaching intended to reduce the risk of practicing or performing a skill that may cause harm with “spotting” techniques explained to the athletes beforehand;
  • In general, if a coach or anyone else touching you makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, it is okay for you to ask the person to stop and such physical contact must stop immediately no matter what the reason.  


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Every athlete deserves a safe and positive sports environment. SPEAK UP if the way you are being treated feels wrong. 
If you need advice in sorting through a situation or concern. SAFE4ATHLETES is here to help.

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