Coach with Child

Poor Practice

What is Poor Practice?

Poor practice concerns are behaviours which fall below the standard required by a club as set out in their codes of conduct. Whilst these behaviours may not be immediately dangerous or intentionally harmful it does set a poor example and if it were to continue, it might lead to harm or put a child in danger. 

To allow poor practice concerns to continue unchallenged may result in an environment developing in which abuse may be able to take place. It normalises behaviour which is unacceptable and should not be condoned. It may also lead to other people having suspicions about an individual’s motivations, even if there was no intention to harm. 

Club codes of conduct should reflect best practice by stating clearly the acceptable behaviours which the club wishes to promote. Codes of conduct should be written for coaches, match officials, parents, spectators, players and club members. 

If it is decided that the matter is one of poor practice and is to be dealt with by the club then it will need to be referred to the club disciplinary committee (which could simply be the club chairman, secretary and club welfare officer depending on the club constitution) to be dealt with as quickly as possible. It is important that club disciplinary rules refer to poor practice to enable such issues to be dealt with through that process.

Examples of Poor Practice:

  • Failure to provide effective supervision for coaching sessions which should be properly planned;
  • Putting performance over the wellbeing and safety of players;
  • Having a win at all costs mentality and failing to be gracious in defeat;
  • Lack of respect for other individuals, such as match officials, opposition coaches, players, managers and spectators and failing to accept a match official’s decision (this may be dealt with by way of on field disciplinary proceedings but may fall short of being dealt with in this way)
  • Allowing rough and dangerous play, bullying, the use of bad language or inappropriate behaviour by players;
  • Overtraining and exerting undue influence over players;
  • Condoning rule violations by players and not adhering to the laws and spirit of the game;
  • Not holding required FA coaching qualifications for the role being carried out;
  • Providing one to one coaching without any supervision or the presence of other adults;
  • Inappropriate use of social media;
  • Allowing children to discriminate on the grounds of religion, race, gender, social class or lack of ability;
  • Engaging in, or tolerating, offensive, insulting or abusive language or behaviour;
  • Failure to challenge poor practice in others;
  • Allowing allegations of abuse to go unchallenged or unrecorded and failing to report these to the DSO;
  • First aid being administered without others being present other than in an emergency
  • Failing to address the additional needs of disabled players or other vulnerable groups;
  • Allowing confidential information to be shared inappropriately;
  • Failure to respect and listen to the opinions of children and consider the rights and responsibilities of children;
  • Failure to display and promote consistently high standards of behaviour and appearance;
  • Spending excessive time alone with children;
  • Not adhering to guidance when transporting children including travel abroad.

The above list is not an exhaustive, but it should give an idea of the type of behaviour which constitutes poor practice.

When do I refer to the County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer? 

  • Repeat offenders
  • Any matters where a child could be at risk of harm
  • Any matters where there could be a breach of FA Disciplinary Regulations
  • Any matters that you have tried to address but continue to happen in the club
  • Any incidents that have the involvement of a statutory service ie Police, Social Care, LADO

Training Poor Practice

Kent FA want to make it clear that until all players are over the age of 18, adults should not take any part in a training session or warm-up. Joining in a training session or pre-game warm-up is now indicative of coaching from a previous era and should not happen.

Firstly, it puts the safety of young players at risk. There have been numerous incidents of children being accidently injured. As adults, we have a duty of care to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of our young players. Any involvement in the session breaches this. This includes participation in any small sided game or practice.

Secondly, in addition to the safeguarding responsibility adults have, joining in also takes away a learning opportunity for young players. Every touch the coach has is one that is being taken away from the players.

An example will be players laying the ball into the coach who lays it off for the players to shoot. We would like coaches to consider who gets the most touches of the ball in that situation. It is, of course, the coach. An improved model would be for a midfielder to lay the ball off, as they will be doing during a game.

If you have odd numbers at the session and are looking to play a game then simply have a magic player who is always on the team that has possession, encourage the team with more players to shoot with their first touch or put a ball on a cone and they must score by knocking it off. There are many innovative ways that you can improve your session, rather than joining in.

We strongly encourage you to let the players play and have created a sharable infographic to spread the message.