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Coaching. and Social Media


You’re checking your email when suddenly, a Facebook friend request from an athlete pops up in your inbox. On one hand, you’ve friended a few other athletes to make it easier to coordinate travel to competition. On the other hand, however, this athlete is a minor. Do you friend the athlete or leave him or her in your friend queue and make up some excuse about how you don’t go on Facebook anymore?  Or maybe you throw your computer out the window and never look back?

Setting boundaries with your athletes on social media can be awkward, but it  doesn’t have to be. To avoid hurt feelings, it’s important to address the issue head on long before that first friend request reaches your inbox. The decision of whether to interact with your athletes on social media is a personal one, but is contingent upon the following factors:

  • How old are your athletes? Most experts in risk management recommend that coaches do not interact with minor athletes on social media. If you do, make sure to keep all communication public and only use group chats (rather than one-on-one messages).
  • What is your coaching pedagogy? Do you want to be seen as your athletes’ friend? How does social media impact your ability to be seen as an authority figure? Is it important to you to keep your coaching persona active in all interactions with your athletes?
  • What are your reasons for interacting with the athlete via social media? Do you want to check up on your athletes or coordinate logistics through Facebook messenger?

You have four options when it comes to interacting with athletes online:

A graphic of four options when it comes to interacting with athletes online.

Of the four options, the least-used one is creating distinct social media profiles for your professional career. Doing so, however, is often an elegant solution, since it allows you to extend your coaching persona to the virtual space and creates a strong distinction between your private and personal life. Which option you choose is entirely a personal choice.

As long as you are consistent and communicate your choice in advance to your athletes, you will avoid hurt feelings or accusations to favouritism.

For more on Social Media 101 For Coaches, please check out viaSPORT’s website:.

Do you integrate Social Media into your coaching?

What Social Media boundaries have you established with your teams and athletes?