Guidance for Coaches working with Children and Vulnerable Adults

Coaches have a vital rôle to play in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults in Bowls. The coaches at club level will be a focus for children and their activities. Good coaching is about providing a fun and safe environment in which people can enjoy their first experience of bowls, gain some success and be motivated to want to go on playing.

The guidance is intended for all those involved in coaching whether or not they hold coaching qualifications and applies equally to children and vulnerable adults. All references to children should also be taken to refer to vulnerable adults.

You can access the details of the Coaching Schemes by the following links:

  • Click here for details of the English Bowls Coaches Society (EBCS).
  • Click here for details of the English Short Mat Bowling Association Coaching details (ESMBA)
  • Click here for Crown Green Coaching (contained on the BCGBA web-site). Other information can be found on the EBCS web-site.

    Promoting Good Practice

    Child abuse and harassment can take place in many situations, from the home and school to a sporting environment. Bowls coaches will have regular contact with children; adopt the highest standards of practice and be responsible for identifying those in need of protection.

    As a coach they will look up to you and if a child decides to talk to you about abuse, you will need to know what to do. You also need to understand your duty of care towards young bowlers, current guidance on good practice, and act responsibly when you are around children. Details of this duty of care can be found in the section on Administration and Implementation (click here to access). This will protect the children you coach and reduce the potential for misunderstandings and inappropriate allegations being made.

    The Coach is also in a position of trust and will normally have power and authority in a young person’s or child’s life, and may have a key influence on their future. They will have regular contact with the young person, and may act on occasion in loco parentis. Thus the coach must be careful not to abuse the young person’s trust. Although the current legislation on abuse of trust does not cover sporting environments (except in a school setting), coaches should ensure they maintain healthy, positive and professional relationships with all athletes. Coaches and others in positions of authority and trust in relation to athletes aged 16 and 17 years must not engage in sexual relationships with them while that unequal power relationship exists.

    Coaches are recommended that they

    Full details of the advice from the CPSU on this issue can be found (click) here.

    The following guidelines should help you know what to do if you are worried about a child, and demonstrate how you can create a positive culture whatever code of bowls you play.

    Good practice means:

    Avoiding poor practice means you must never:

    Any of these can leave you open to allegations

    Where physical contact is for motivation or celebratory reasons, agree with the children, teachers or other appropriate adults that to praise good performance a "High Five" or similar action will be used

    Never help pupils dress unless they request this and genuinely require assistance.

    Never take on one to one coaching with a pupil unless another adult/ carer or parent is present. If you need to communicate with a child for the purposes of coaching or passing on information, use a parent’s mobile telephone number. If you have agreed with the parents in advance to use the child’s own mobile phone for communicating with them, under no circumstances make the number available for general circulation.

    If any of the following incidents take place or are observed you MUST report then to the club SO/WO and make a written note of the event using the incident report form and inform the parents where appropriate if:

    There are a number of reasons where a coach finds it necessary to report a concern including:

    Responding to a child who tells you about abuse

    You need to:

    Summary: Coaching Children a Code of Ethics

    Guidance on good practices in Welcoming Youth into your club can be found by clicking here (Welcoming Children to your Club).

    Managing Challenging Behaviour Guidelines

    Guidelines for managing challenging behaviour can be found in the document Managing Challenging Behaviour and is based on the advice from Government guidelines (Every Child Matters briefings) and briefings from the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU).

    Coaching the Disabled

    Coaching the Disabled athlete/person (whether it be a child or not) not only has great rewards, but great challenges. Each type of "disability" poses different challenges. Positive benefits of inclusion in sports includes self-esteeem of the children and young people, and the opportunity for them to have, and develop socialisation skills and interpersonal relationships. There can also be benefits to the children’s moblity.

    Recent guidance from the CPSU with respect to the Disabled Child/ Young Person and specific challenges with regard to those with celebral palsy (as detailed in the Relay newsletter Winter 2010/2011) can be found by clicking here.


    It is good practice to keep your skills up to date, particularly if you are involved with young children or persons or vulnerable adults. There are a wide range of courses available to attend within the coaching and safeguarding arena. See the Section marked Training (click here) for more details including courses recommended by the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU).

    Return to previous page