Getting Ready to Return to Coaching

  • July 02, 2020

If you have been keeping up with the news, you’ve probably seen some developments from the provincial government on loosening some COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario. As of June 12th, 2020, Ontario will be taking a regional approach to Stage 2 re-opening.

In this latest stage announcement from the Provincial Government groups up to ten (10) are now allowed, outdoor team sports may resume, if physically distancing, for training only and with no scrimmages or games, and aquatic facilities have been allowed to re-open, all in select regions of the province.
These provisions need to be taken into account with what your Provincial Sport Organization and/or National Sport Organization has developed in accordance with your facility and municipal guidelines. With 67 recognized sports in Ontario and Canada, each sport has unique issues which need to be factored into their own return to sport plan as well as fit Provincial health and safety guidelines.

So, as a coach, you may be wondering what does all of this mean? What can/should I be doing at this time?

When your Provincial Sport Organization has given you the go-ahead, your facility is open, and you are following your local/regional public health guidelines, you can resume coaching.

Become familiar with your Provincial Sport Organization and/or National Sport Organization to see what their return to play protocol looks like. Please note not all return to play protocols have yet been developed, but are in the process of being released.

Additionally we suggest you become familiar with the Ontario Governments Reopening Framework and the three phase approach to opening the province.

It is not recommended to host any in-person practices, meetings or workouts at this time if your local/regional public health and your Provincial Sanctioning Body are not returning to play. When you operate under sanctioned activities by your club and Provincial Sport Organization (PSO) you are provided with insurance protecting you and the organization from certain liabilities. If you operate outside of the sanctioned activity, you could be exposing yourself to additional liability in the event something was to happen.

Consult your Provincial and/or National Sport Organization’s Return to Play guidelines to determine what training looks like for your sport and if you are within the Provincial regions permitted to open.

At this time, you are welcome to provide your athletes with at home workouts, and host virtual meetings. Check out our Taking Care of Your Athletes article with tips on different virtual platforms to stay connected with your athletes.

Under the provisions of the Provincial Government re-opening, no competitions are permitted. Additionally, reference your Provincial Sport Organization and/or National Sport Organizations Return to Play policies.

As Ontario progresses through the stages, more opportunities for competition and scrimmages will return only when it is safe to do so.

Think of at-home exercises, yoga and other techniques that can be done with little-to-no equipment. Not all your athletes will have access to weights and strength materials, and since they may not have a partner or trained individual to assist them with heavyweights, introducing high-impact activities could be a safety issue. If you coach a sport that requires endurance and conditioning, look towards having your athletes do runs, steps ups and other exercises that are low-risk and can be done while isolating from others.

In the coming weeks, we can expect to see various sports providing updates and recommendations regarding your return to play protocols and potential exercises/activities to incorporate in the beginning steps. It’s important to identify that many athletes haven’t been training at nearly the same calibre as they had before. There will need to be a steady approach to returning to intense, high-impact workouts to minimize the risk of injury.

Additionally, when we are ready to return, begin considering how your practices and training can be adapted to minimize contact. Consider activities that can be done at a distance, single-player drills, non-contact drills etc.

The stage we are in from the Provincial Government will dictate what facilities will be open. Once we have progressed in phases, and your region is permitted to open, it will then be reliant upon with whom your permit is held (municipality, school board etc.) and the guidelines they have set out, once restrictions are lifted.

UPDATE: The Ontario Government has made new amendments to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act regarding facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities.

For more information on indoor/outdoor sports and recreational fitness facilities status, please read the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act .

NOTE: Facilities that have opened are under limited access (e.g., no locker rooms, no change rooms and no showers). Access to clubhouse and other amenities will be limited to washrooms, emergency aid and equipment management.

When your sport is given the go-ahead to return to play, a useful resource to ensure your club/team is following the proper safety recommendations is with the Club Risk and Assessment Tool Checklist. This tool is to assist in evaluating the level of risk involved in returning to play for your club/team.

Depending on your sport, your Provincial Sport Organization and/or National Sport Organization may provide their own version of a risk assessment in their return to play protocols when they are released. Regardless of what you use, you should be aware of the level of risk of your activity and how you can possibly modify the circumstances to lower the risk for all involved.

NOTE: Any decision to allow access to a club/training facility is subject to the Local, Municipal, Provincial and Federal public health regulations in force at that stage.

Regardless of the circumstances the Rule of Two exists to ensure all interactions and communications are open, observable and justifiable. Its purpose is to protect participants (especially minors) and a coach in potentially vulnerable situations by ensuring more than one adult is present.  A second screened adult should always be present, whether that is in-person or online.

Small groups or big groups, inside or outside, the Rule of Two always applies.

If you are conducting any online training or coaching be sure to check out our Staying Safe Online safety tips.

Every sport may not have the same needs when sport returns to play. However, one of the essential items you will need going forward is a mask.

While masks are currently not required to leave the house, some companies – such as Costco, are making masks mandatory to shop and use their facilities. This may be the case going forward in some facilities as they begin to open for training and activities. Please review what recommendations your PSO/NSO has put forward and check on any updates from facilities you may train at as restrictions begin to lift.

UPDATE: The following Municipalities have made masks mandatory in indoor public spaces:

  • Effective June 27th, 2020, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) has made masks mandatory for any customer, client, employee, or visitor who enters a commercial establishment. Please visit KFL&A Public Health: Mandatory Face Coverings for a list of what counts as a commercial establishment.
  • Effective July 7th, 2020, the City of Toronto has made masks/face coverings MANDATORY when entering indoor public spaces. Toronto has also implemented this practice on the TTC as of July 2nd, 2020.
  • Effective July 7th, 2020, Ottawa Public Health has made masks/face coverings MANDATORY when entering enclosed public spaces. Please visit Ottawa Public Health: Mask or Face Coverings for more information.

Remember a mask is strongly recommended to be worn where physical distancing of less than 2 meters apart is difficult.

Additionally, you will want to ensure you have hand sanitizer. Not every practice facility will have a sink, soap or somewhere to adequately wash your hands. Hand sanitizer is the next best option if you are unable to properly wash your hands.

Ensure your club or organization has all participants sign a COVID-19 waiver confirming they understand the risks of returning to sport in a pandemic environment, have not been exposed to COVID-19 (or if so, 14 days have passed), are not experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms, and their agreement to follow the provincial sport organization’s plan.

For more information on risk management and details on waivers in the sport environment click HERE.

Going forward, a first step as a coach can be reviewing and updating your Emergency Action Plan. Incorporate a section that includes information of your local public health units and locations to the nearest COVID-19 test center in your area. Use the Ontario Health Coalitions interactive map showing all COVID-19 assessment centers in the province OR, you can download the printable version HERE.

Another item to include in your EAP is a protocol of what to do if someone on the team tests positive for COVID-19. In your sports’ return to play protocol, read through and make a note of their recommendations if someone becomes ill while you are together.

Need help creating an Emergency Action Plan? Take the FREE EAP e-learning module in your NCCP Locker account under the e-learning section and earn 1 PD Point.

Resources & Links

COVID-19 Assessment Centre Map

Emergency Action Plan eModule (Available in your NCCP Locker account, under the eLearning tab)

It is important to note that these guidelines are to be used as a guide only. Nothing in this document is intended to provide legal advice. Do not rely on this document or treat it as legal advice.

Ask Your Questions!

If you are interested in asking a question about your return to coaching feel free to submit your question in the form below. CAO will work to answer your question in the next edition of our Getting Ready to Return Coaching.

Getting Ready to Return to Coaching – Your Questions