Home > How to Team Build While Social Distancing

How to Team Build While Social Distancing

Tips and tricks for team building with your athletes:

Sports offer a variety of opportunities to develop our physical abilities, improve our mental well-being and to connect with our communities. Whether you participate or facilitate in grassroots, recreational or high-performance sport, having a strong bond with teammates and staff is a feeling like no other.

But why is team cohesion important? Well, for starters, many of the most successful sports teams in history worked as well-oiled machines – take the 90s Bulls for example. Team building is more than everyone “getting along”, it’s understanding of each other’s strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and making a choice to support each other regardless. Not only can this improve the results on the playing field – but it can build long-lasting friendships and relationships.

Some tips for remote team building:

Ask your athletes what they value in team cohesion. It’s important to understand as coaches that each of your athletes may have different perspectives on what team cohesion looks like. While using virtual video platforms such as, start by asking questions such as “what does team cohesions mean/look like to you?”

After your athletes/coaching staff have shared their ideas, let them know what your idea of team cohesion is. This displays an open dialogue from all members of the team and helps to set the standard that all ideas are valid and welcomed.

Start goal setting for the upcoming season. Have your athletes write down one personal goal and one team goal. This will not only give you a sense of how competitive the team goal is for the season but, it will also show what your athlete’s goals are. If many of them are technical skill-based, that can help when you begin your practice planning.

Put together a player code of conduct with your team. Allowing players and coaching staff to have input shows that their opinions are valued. When players truly believe and are a part of the player code of conduct, it creates a sense of ownership that will help them to hold themselves and their teammates accountable.

Incorporate some fun activities into your teams’ virtual meetings:

  • Pictionary – This can be played over webcams, either keeping points individually or having coaches/athletes team up in pairs/groups. Utilize a word generator to generate topics and have individuals draw on paper or use a whiteboard feature (if available) on your platform.
  • Two Truths and a Lie – Each team member comes up with two truths and one lie about themselves and shares with the group. This is a great way for coaches and players to learn more about one another off of the playing field.
  • Brainstorm – Have your team come up with 10 signs of a good team player. This can be later be used as a reference in a player-code-of-conduct and even adapted for parents.

Team building activities for when we return to sport

When sports eventually do come in to play, a great way to have your athletes bond is through activities. James Leath – the founder of Unleash the Athlete, is a mental performance coach who puts a lot of focus on team chemistry. Here are some exercises from James’ “Interrupt” Wake up the Athlete and Set the Mood to try when sports resume:

  1. Flip the Tarp – a group of athletes stand on the tarp with the goal to flip it over without touching the floor or using furniture. (If you have a large team, let one group go at a time OR, bring a second tarp to allow for a safe amount of athletes playing at one time)
  2. Linked – Have athletes sit on the floor back-to-back with a partner and link arms at their sides. The goal is to stand up while staying linked. If groups of two are too easy, increase the number. This can be done with multiple people.
  3. Two-Handed Ro Sham Bo – This is basically Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament style. Have athletes pair up with one another. Have the pairs play one round of rock-paper-scissors. Whoever wins will circulate the room to find a new competitor. The athlete who lost now becomes the cheerleader for the winner – hyping them up and cheering them on as they continue to compete. This continues until there is one winner throughout the whole group with everyone cheering them on.
  4. Cone Game – Have your athlete’s pair up in two’s. Each pair will face each other roughly an arm’s length distance apart. Place a cone between them. The coach will prepare athletes to be saying “ready” and then proceed to call out various body parts for athletes to follow along and touch – head, toes, ears, shoulders, etc. Once the coach yells “cone” athletes compete against their partner to reach and grab the cone first. You can have athletes shift down the line to face new partners.
Home > So Your Season is Cancelled – Now What?

So Your Season is Cancelled – Now What?

Tips for talking to your athletes about disappointment

The cancellation of playoffs, meets, tournaments and even whole seasons during these times have been a huge source of disappointment to coaches, athletes and parents.

Even as some businesses across Ontario start to reopen, it appears that it will still be some time before we’ll be back together in groups, which is almost always necessary for sports.

Below we’ve put together some talking points to help you and your athletes get through this season’s setbacks and start preparing for the next one.

  1. Tell them it’s okay to be disappointed
    For some athletes, cancellations may mean they will miss their final competition or season at a specific level or with a certain team. For others, it’s been something circled on the calendar for months, a motivating force to look forward to during difficult times. The loss of these things are huge disappointments that are not easy to get over quickly, and that’s okay to acknowledge. Encouraging your athletes to verbalize their sadness or frustrations is a helpful first step towards working through their feelings and moving past these setbacks.
  2. Discuss how sports helps us to become more resilient
    Sport helps to teach us that we can handle whatever is thrown at us. The lessons that we teach on the playing field can be extrapolated to our current situation and help our athletes to develop resiliency and grow as people.
  3. Remind them that the training and hard work they have put in isn’t for nothing
    It’s crucial to remind athletes that all of the effort and dedication they have put in to preparing for this season has not gone to waste. Any time an athlete has spent training has inevitably helped to improve their skill set and fitness, and this will still be beneficial when they can resume competition. Setbacks – such as an injury or an illness – can cause the loss of a season at any time. There will be more opportunities in the future and all of their hard work will eventually pay off.
  4. Focus on small, achievable goals
    Helping your athletes to create a routine and control what is possible right now is a huge step towards achieving a level of normalcy during this time. There are many ways that coaches and teammates can still stay connected, even when they’re not face-to-face. Try virtual training sessions or team hangouts to keep cohesion high among teammates.
  5. Help them focus on what they want to achieve in the future
    Now is a great time to talk about goal-setting and encourage your athletes to spend some time reflecting on their pathway in their sport and what they would like to achieve in the short and long term. This extends to coaches too. Are there any workshops or professional development courses you’ve wanted to do, but never had the time? Now is the perfect opportunity.

Sports gives us the foundation to adapt and stay resilient during difficult times. By reminding your athletes that they already possess the tools necessary to cope with these setbacks, you will help them to adjust to the current situation more quickly, and continue to develop into even better athletes and people.

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Home > Staying Safe Online

Staying Safe Online

For Coaches, Sport Organizations, Parents & Athletes – Staying Safe Online

The new “normal” of virtual coaching and online training sessions is something that may be new to a lot of coaches, athletes and parents during these times. These virtual meetings allows teams and athletes to continue to train and stay connected, which is great for maintaining positive mental and physical health. While it is something that may be new to many, there are some risks that could accompany the rise in these virtual environments.

We’ve put together these resources and guidelines so that sport organizations, coaches, parents/guardians and athletes can enjoy all the benefits and reduce the risk.

Guidelines for all adults to keep in mind:

  • Get parent/guardian permission
  • Remember The Rule of Two
  • Eliminate one-to-one electronic messaging
  • Remain transparent and professional

Access training, screening, policies and reporting resources

For Coaches

  1. Keep your communication professional and transparent.
    Ask open-ended questions, then listen to what they say and validate their feelings (“It is OK to feel disappointed or angry.”).
    Should you need to communicate with an individual athlete, always copy their parent/guardian or another adult. Don’t communicate one-on-one with individual athletes over personal text or social media.
  2. Ensure virtual sessions are appropriately secured and are password protected.
    Remind athletes not to forward the links to anyone outside of the team without your permission.
  3. Restate team expectations about respectful communication and online behaviours.
    This is a great time to remind athletes that their Athlete Code of Conduct is still in effect during physical distancing. Review inappropriate behaviours like cyber bullying, hazing, and harassment.
  4. Highlight physical safety when suggesting home workouts.
    Ensure home workouts are appropriate for the athlete’s level and don’t require resources the athlete doesn’t have at home. Remind athletes to hydrate properly and take breaks when needed.
  5. Be mindful of your athlete’s home life – look for warning signs of distress and/or abuse in the home.
    Provide emotional support and report any suspected or known child abuse to the police and/or your Local Children’s Aid Society.
  6. Never be alone with a participant without another screened coach or screened adult present. (The Rule of Two)
    Any virtual lessons must be observable and interruptible by another screened adult, such as another coach or parent/guardian. Keep doors open and wear appropriate clothing.
    Get permission for all virtual lessons.
    Recording sessions are recommended, where that capacity exists.

For Parents/Guardians

  1. Restate expectations about appropriate behaviour online.
    Talk about how you expect your child to behave and how they should expect to be treated by others during these virtual settings.
  2. Learn about the apps and websites your child is using, including how to control the privacy settings.
  3. Have your child use webcams in a common area or a room with the door open.
    Make sure they are aware of what and who is visible in the webcam or video shot. Cameras should also be covered when not in use.
  4. Maintain open lines of communication with your child and pay attention to their emotional state.
    Even though you may be at home with your child all day, it is important to check-in with them about their day and see how they are feeling. Staying connected with friends and teammates is incredibly important for their mental health but can also open the door to hurtful behaviour.

For Athletes

  1. Use your webcam in a common area or a room with the door open.
    Be aware of what and who is visible in the shot. Cameras should also be covered when not in use.
  2. Make sure any informal team gatherings include all teammates.
    Hanging out with your teammates virtually is a great way to stay connected, beat boredom, and feel better. Make sure all of your teammates are invited in team huddles or game nights.
  3. Say something to your coach, parents, or another trusted adult if you notice someone being cyber bullied, harassed, or exploited.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or reach out to a trained professional for any issue – big or small.
    Connect to Kids Help Phone which operates 24/7 providing counselling, referral and information for young people.
    Text CONNECT to 686868 or call 1-800-668-6868 or use the Live Chat online at kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat.

We all know how important sport is to our athletes, our communities and society. It is equally important that we all play a role in ensuring that sport continues to stay safe both on and off the field of play.

Video calling, group messaging, online training etc., allow us to stay more connected than ever before. These tips for online safety will helps us all reduce risks associated with online communication, and instead enjoy the benefits of these virtual environments, so that we can all get through this difficult time together.

Resources

Open 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week, this national toll-free confidential helpline for harassment, abuse and discrimination provides a safe place for victims and witnesses to report their concerns.

Call or text 1-888-83-SPORT (77678)
Contact by email at info@abuse-free-sport.ca

The Canadian Sport Helpline exists to provide advice, guidance, and resources on how to proceed/intervene appropriately in the circumstances.

Access training, screening, policies and reporting resources

As a resource you can provide your athletes and participants, Kids Help Phone operates Canada’s only 24/7, professional counselling, referral and information service for young people.

Text CONNECT to 686868 or call 1-800-668-6868
Live Chat online or through the app at kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat

Young athletes can chat confidentially with a trained, volunteer Crisis Responder for support with any issue – big or small.

Access training, screening, policies and reporting resources

This rule serves to protect minor athletes in potentially vulnerable situations by ensuring that more than one adult is present at all times. Download the Rule of Two guidelines to understand how you can support the Rule of Two in your organization.

If you have received advice from legal counsel or your insurance providers, the advice of your lawyers or insurance providers supersedes the information contained in this article.

References: USA Centre for Safe Sport, Coaching Association of Canada

Home > Helping Parents Coach From Home

Helping Parents Coach From Home

5 coaching tips to help parents keep their athletes motivated at home.

We’re sure that many of you have been receiving questions from parents about what they can be doing at home to help their young athletes continue to stay motivated and working on skill development during this time.

To help, we have put together 5 practical and easy to implement coaching tips below that will help parents keep their kids active and inspired while your season is on a break.

  1. Reinforce positive feedback
    On the playing field we know that an athlete is more likely to reach their potential when they receive more positive than negative feedback. Studies have shown that on average, it takes a minimum ratio of 5 positive comments to 1 negative comment in order for an athlete to consistently continue to develop their skills and achieve performance goals (citation). As your child is practicing and learning new skills, try to keep this 5-to-1 ratio in mind in order to facilitate the best conditions for them to succeed.
  2. Help your children to develop a growth mindset
    Sometimes in sport, it’s easy to get caught up in the outcomes – the wins and loses, final scores and point totals. However, it’s actually the process – including practice, effort, and improvement – that has the most impact on how much your child enjoys their sport and how they develop skills. This includes framing mistakes as an opportunity for growth. Help your athlete see the potential for improvement by asking them to self-assess when something doesn’t go according to plan, and reflect on how they can improve on it for next time. Not only will this encourage persistence, but it will also teach your child how to break down skills and mark milestones as they work towards mastering each one.
  3. Take the opportunity to teach life skills through sports
    Coaches have the unique opportunity to teach skills that their athletes often end up using both on and off the playing field. As you coach your children at home, help them to see when a skill that they are learning may have broader implications beyond the game and may be useful in their day-to-day life. This can help reinforce learning and encourage your athlete to be creative in their thinking by looking for correlations between real world situations and their experiences on the playing field.
  4. Ask them what they need
    Even at practice, or during a game, a Coach knows that their player cannot perform to their potential if their mind is focused (even in part) on something happening elsewhere in their life. The pandemic experience this spring has been an emotional roller-coaster for adults and children alike, and it’s important to acknowledge this. Sports can provide a welcome distraction from the many changes we are experiencing. However, If you feel like your kids are not paying attention or truly “listening” while they are practicing, they may just need a chance to share how they are feeling that day before they can refocus on the task at hand.
  5. Model for your own kids
    The best coaches show their love of the game readily and demonstrate respect for the sport, their opponents and officials. The more you can model positivity and enthusiasm, the more this attitude will become the norm for your child.

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Looking for ways to support your athletes?

Check out our article below with tips and tricks to support your athletes during this time.

Supporting Your Athletes

The CAO continues to provide remote NCCP learning opportunities at this time.
To find out more about available classes, please click HERE.

Need more support? Let us know! Fill out our Support Through COVID-19 form to let us know how we can help. You can find that HERE.  

If you would like to reach out to CAO directly, you can contact info@coachesontario.ca.

Remote NCCP learning opportunities

Home > Taking Care of Yourself

Taking Care of Yourself

Tips and tricks for staying mentally & physically fit during COVID-19

As hard as it is to believe, Ontario has just entered it’s the third week under the State of Emergency, with top doctors in the province suggesting this could last until summer.

For many of you reading this, you are coaches and/or administrators who rely on a consistent routine for practices and training. With schools and gyms closed, and sports organizations making the right call to suspend in-person events, many of you are left without your hobbies, passions and livelihood. Regardless of what is happening in your life right now, know that the CAO is here for you.

So, we’ve done some research and put together some key tips and tricks to help you manage your physical and emotional well-being during this difficult time.

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It’s okay to be worried.

‘Anxiety is a normal response to the current situation, says Tina Montreuil, assistant professor in the department of educational and counselling psychology at McGill University. And some of us may have a harder time coping than others, she says, since our usual freedoms and a lot of the control we typically have are restricted as schools, gyms, bars and workplaces close.’ – The Globe and Mail

For more information on managing anxiety during COVID-19, click HERE.

Monitor your mental health.

With these unprecedented times, it can be easy to feel down and feel isolated and alone. Even under normal circumstances, coaches are known for putting other’s needs ahead of their own! By nature, most coaches prioritize looking after those around them, so during a time of extreme stress, like right now, it’s even more important that they carve out time to care for themselves.

Talk to loved ones. Talk to friends. Talk to mental health professionals. There is ample mental health support available online and over the phone to help you during this time. Here are some available resources:

Free apps/platforms to communicate with friends and family:

  • WhatsApp – Fast, simple, messaging, calling and video. (Android, iPhone, Mac or Windows PC)
  • Facebook Messenger – Be together, whenever. A simple way to text, video chat and plan things all in one place.
  • Skype – Skype makes it easy to stay in touch. Calls, chats and conferences of up to 50 people.
  • Facetime (IOS) – You can use FaceTime over Wi-Fi1 or over cellular on supported iOS or iPadOS devices.

The Coaches Association of Ontario advises that you utilize caution when downloading or installing any app or program on your device. The CAO is not responsible for any and all costs, claims, expenses, demands, actions, causes of action, and any liability for damages to property howsoever caused arising out of or in any way related to third-party software.

Incorporate physical exercise when you can.

While going to practice and a gym is no longer an option, it is vital to maintain some sort of physical exercise at this time. Not only is it important for your physical health, but releasing endorphins (the happy hormones) can assist with staying mentally and physically fit. When you can, take a walk – either solo or with those in your immediate household, and change up your scenery, while still being mindful of keeping a distance from others.

For more information on free home workouts during COVID-19, click HERE.

The Coaches Association of Ontario advises that you utilize caution when downloading or installing any app or program on your device. The CAO is not responsible for any and all costs, claims, expenses, demands, actions, causes of action, and any liability for damages to property howsoever caused arising out of or in any way related to third-party software.

Utilize resources available to you.

For those administrators or coaches with a business, you can visit The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to see what funding and support are available for your specific needs.

For those who lost their income due to COVID-19, you can visit Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan page to see what funding and support are available for your specific needs.

For reliable and accurate updates on the outbreak, please visit the Government of Canada’s Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

Check out your provincial public health authorities COVID-19 info: www.ontario.ca/coronavirus

For more information on COVID-19: Awareness Resources, click HERE.

Looking for ways to support your athletes?

Check out our newest article with tips and tricks to support your athletes during this time.

Supporting Your Athletes

The CAO continues to provide remote NCCP learning opportunities at this time.
To find out more about available classes, please click HERE.

Need more support? Let us know! Fill out our Support Through COVID-19 form to let us know how we can help. You can find that HERE.  

If you would like to reach out to CAO directly, you can contact info@coachesontario.ca.

Remote NCCP learning opportunities

Home > Taking Care of Your Athletes

Taking Care of Your Athletes

Tips for supporting your athletes from home during COVID-19

Everyone in the sports community is feeling the impact of COVID-19, and as a coach, you’ve likely spent the last few weeks figuring out how you can best help your athletes stay positive and motivated.

While we all understand that practicing social distancing is essential in protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities, it has certainly been tough on athletes who were looking forward to finishing up or starting their seasons.

Although social distancing from one another is vital to flattening the curve, that doesn’t mean we can’t reach out to our colleagues and athletes to check in on how they are coping at this time.

So, if you’re a coach or an administrator looking for ways on how to support athletes on your team, or in your organization, this article’s for you.

We would also like to note that while this article contains information regarding how to assist your athletes in this time that ultimately, you know your athletes best. What is provided here are researched ideas that may or may not be entirely relevant for your age grade, gender, or class of athlete.

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Maintain virtual communication.

Just because we have to keep social distancing, doesn’t mean we need to be limited in our communication with our coaching staff and athletes. There are many free, digital platforms and apps that allow people to stay connected. Check out our list of available virtual communications:

It’s also important to acknowledge that The Rule of Two – which may not seem as relevant right now as during physical interactions, is still an important practice. Remember to copy other members of your coaching on emails and direct messages with your athletes, and always ensure there is at least one trained coach and one screened adult on any of the voice or video call platforms that we have included in this article.

  • WhatsApp – Fast, simple, messaging, calling and video. (Android, iPhone, Mac or Windows PC)
  • Zoom – One Consistent Enterprise Experience. Meetings, chat, video webinars, conference rooms, and more…
  • Skype – Skype makes it easy to stay in touch. Calls, chats and conferences of up to 50 people.
  • Facebook Messenger – Be together, whenever. A simple way to text, video chat and plan things all in one place.
  • Marco Polo – Best of texting, social media and video chats – all in one private, easy to use app.

The Coaches Association of Ontario advises that you utilize caution when downloading or installing any app or program on your device. The CAO is not responsible for any and all costs, claims, expenses, demands, actions, causes of action, and any liability for damages to property howsoever caused arising out of or in any way related to third-party software.

Continue to be a source for your athletes.

While this period leaves lots of uncertainty for adults, children are also feeling the impact of not seeing friends, playing sports and going on playdates. Some valuable information from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health informs us that ‘Young people may also sense the anxiety of their parents, and worry about their own health and that of other family members.’

Provide recipes, workouts and training that athletes can do at home. Provide resources to have them review and look over. Set up group calls during the would-be practice dates and times to maintain a social connection within the team and let them know you are there for them. And don’t be afraid to ask what they need at this time.

As a first step, you may consider to:

  • Acknowledge their fears and emotions
  • See who would be interested in getting workout plans, at-home-training schedules or other resources to help stay active or invested in the sport at this time
  • Were you planning to hand out any awards? Hold a small awards conference on a virtual conference call with the athletes
  • Ask what you can do for them in this time

While contacting your athletes is important – don’t forget about their parents. Parents have played a vital role in youth sports in getting kids to practice, tournaments and being their biggest supporters. They are seeing first hand the effects of this pandemic and what it is doing to their children. They can potentially help provide info on what the kids may need from you. If you are a coach that has parent meetings from time-to-time, see what the interest is in hosting one virtually.

For more information about speaking with youth on COVID-19, click HERE.

Your source for healthy & easy-to-follow recipes to send to your athletes.

Provide them with credible and reliable health resources.  

There’s a lot of “fake news” out there. Let them know about credible resources on the virus:

For more information on COVID-19: Awareness Resources, click HERE.

Looking for personal support?

Check out our newest article with tips and tricks on supporting yourself during this time.

Supporting Your Athletes

Need more support? Let us know! Fill out our Support Through COVID-19 form to let us know how we can help. You can find that HERE.  

If you would like to reach out to CAO directly, you can contact info@coachesontario.ca.