Adult-child physical contact in sport

Last updated: 10 Apr 2015 Topics: Duty of care Inappropriate or concerning behaviour

Dr Melanie Lang (Edge Hill University) produced a video presentation for sports coach UK (now UK Coaching) on challenging coach anxiety of adult-child touch in sport through a children's rights approach. 

The most important aspect of Dr Lang’s presentation is that positive and appropriate touch in sport can actually help children identify inappropriate touch, should that ever occur.

Dispelling myths

Dr Lang discusses the concerns of some coaches regarding touch in a sporting context, particularly against the backdrop of high-profile abuse cases inside and outside of sport. 

A common myth is that ‘coaches must never touch children in sport’. This myth is dispelled using the latest research and evidence. 

Promoting good practice

Dr Lang explains some of the principles around good practice, ensuring that the child’s welfare is paramount throughout demonstrations of technique.

Due to the spreading of some myths, some of the powerful benefits of touch are forgotten. It can be a helpful communication tool or a way to reassure a distressed or anxious child. 

The question that coaches should always ask themselves is: will touch benefit the child?