Coaches & Run Leaders – Code of Conduct

As a responsible Coach or Run Leader you will:

  • Respect the rights, dignity and worth of every athlete and others involved in athletics and treat everyone equally
  • Place the welfare and safety of the athlete above the development of performance
  • Be appropriately qualified including obtaining CRB/DBS clearance, update your licence and education as and when required by UKA and adhere to the terms of your coaching or run leading licence. Further details can be found in the UKA’s ‘Roles Within the UKA Coaching Framework’ document.
  • Ensure that activities you direct or guide are appropriate for the age, maturity, experience and ability of the individual athlete
  • Never try to recruit, either overtly or covertly, athletes who are already receiving coaching. If approached by an athlete receiving coaching refer immediately to the coach currently providing coaching support
  • Try to observe a recommended maximum ratio of 1 run leader (or coach) to 12 athletes at a training session or work in partnership with another run leader (or coach).
  • Cooperate fully with others involved in the sport such as technical officials, team managers, other coaches, doctors, physiotherapists, sport scientists and representatives of the governing body in the best interests of the athlete
  • Consistently promote positive aspects of the sport such as fair play and never condone rule violations or the use of prohibited or age-inappropriate substances
  • Encourage and guide athletes to accept responsibility for their own performance and behaviour
  • Respect the right of any athletes to an independent life outside of athletics
  • Develop appropriate working relationships with athletes based on mutual trust and respect, especially with those athletes under 18 years or vulnerable adults
  • Do not exert undue influence to obtain personal benefit or reward
  • It is strongly recommended that you do not allow intimate relationships to develop between yourself and athletes coached by you aged over 18 years. A run leader or coach MUST strictly maintain a clear boundary between friendship and intimacy with athletes and should not conduct inappropriate relationships with athletes. Relationships with athletes can cause significant problems for other team members, raising concerns of favouritism and/or victimisation should the relationship later end.
  • In particular, you MUST NOT allow an intimate personal relationship to develop between yourself and any athlete aged under 18 years. Any violation of this could result in a licence being withdrawn. It may also be a criminal offence to conduct a relationship with an athlete aged less than 16 years. It may also be a violation of your licence to form an intimate personal relationship with a vulnerable adult coached by you.

As a responsible coach or run leader, when participating in or attending any athletics activities, including training/coaching sessions and competition events you will:

  • Act with dignity and display courtesy and good manners towards others
  • Avoid swearing and abusive language and irresponsible behaviour including behaviour that is dangerous to yourself or others, acts of violence, bullying, harassment and physical and sexual abuse
  • Challenge inappropriate behaviour and language by others
  • Be aware that your attitude and behaviour directly affects the behaviour of athletes under your supervision
  • Never engage in any inappropriate or illegal behaviour
  • Avoid destructive behaviour and leave athletics venues as you find them
  • Not carry or consume alcohol to excess and/or illegal substances.
  • Avoid carrying any items that could be dangerous to yourself or others excluding athletics equipment used in the course of your athletics activity


In addition, coaches & run leaders should follow these guidelines on best coaching practice, in particular with young athletes or with vulnerable adults:

  • Avoid critical language or actions, such as sarcasm which could undermine an athlete’s self-esteem.
  • Avoid spending time alone with young athletes unless clearly in the view of others to protect both yourself and the young athlete. In special circumstances, for example when coaching elite young athletes, one to one coaching sessions may form part of the required training schedule. In this circumstance, parental/guardian consent must be sought and obtained prior to sessions taking place. The coach must inform the parent/guardian of the venue for training and an emergency contact number should be provided by the coach and parent/guardian.
  • Avoid taking young athletes alone in your car
  • Never invite a young athlete alone into your home
  • Never share a bedroom with a child
  • Always explain why and ask for consent before touching an athlete
  • Ensure that parents/carers know and have given consent before taking a young athlete away from the usual training venue
  • Work in same-sex pairs if supervising changing areas
  • Report any accidental injury, distress, misunderstanding or misinterpretation to the parents/carers and club Welfare officer as soon as possible.
  • Report any suspected misconduct by other coaches or other people involved in athletics to the Club, Regional, National or UKA welfare officer as soon as possible.