Code of Conduct


These British Rowing Codes of Conduct are applicable to all those participating in rowing or working within a British Rowing club or affiliated organisation.  Any repeated breach of these codes of conduct will be investigated under the appropriate disciplinary or complaints procedure. Reports or complaints should be made in the first instance to the Club Welfare Officer or a club officer. Complaints and concerns relating to safeguarding or protection of vulnerable groups may also be sent directly to the Child Protection Officer at British Rowing. In this instance the Case Management Group will decide the level of investigation.

2. Rights of individuals
3. Code of conduct for participants and competitors
4. Code of conduct for parents/carers involved in rowing
5. Code of conduct for rowing coaches
6. Code of conduct for coaches of juniors (additional)

2. Rights of individuals

All participants in rowing, including children, participants and competitors, coxes, coaches, umpires, marshals and spectators have the right:

  • to enjoy safe participation in rowing
  • to be treated as individuals at all times
  • to express their views
  • to be listened to and believed
  • to determine their own goals and participation in sport
  • to seek support to help them develop
  • to receive support for their individual needs
  • to balance rowing and other aspects of their life to sustain enjoyable participation in the sport
  • to be treated with respect
  • to enjoy an environment free of discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, colour, disability, sexuality, age, marital status, occupation or political opinion
  • to participate free from the threat of abuse
  • not to be subject to humiliation, shame or insult
  • not to have to endure abuse, including verbal abuse, bullying, neglect or physical abuse
  • to enjoy an environment free of sexual harassment and sexual abuse
  • not to be exploited
  • not to be pressurised to train or compete
  • to adequate rest and recovery
  • not to train or compete when ill or injured
  • to be treated in accordance with British Rowing guidelines
  • to receive quality coaching and instruction from appropriately qualified individuals.


At all times, when practising, training or competing at clubs, competitions and events, participants and competitors should:

  • follow the rules and procedures of their club
  • adhere to British Rowing rules and guidelines
  • act in accordance with the rules of the competition or event
  • study in advance, understand, and follow the rules, regulations and guidelines of the competition/event with regards to safety, emergency procedures, boating, marshalling, and cancellation
  • follow the directions of marshals, umpires and officials of the club/competition/event.
  • accept the decisions of officials of the event
  • not take banned substances
  • act in a sportsmanlike way during training and competition
  • treat other competitors, coaches, other water users and officials of clubs, competitions and events with respect
  • avoid swearing at or shouting at others
  • not threaten others nor engage in acts of verbal or physical abuse or other types of abuse.
  • respect the rights, dignity and worth of other participants, and not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, colour, disability, sexuality, age, marital status, occupation or political opinion
  • avoid inappropriate relationships with their coach
  • keep to agreed timings, or inform the relevant person if they are going to be late.


Parents/carers should recognise the rights of their children.
Parents/carers should:

  • ensure that their children have fun when practicing, training and competing in rowing
  • promote the health, safety and well-being of children first and foremost
  • not over emphasise winning
  • listen to, respect and take into account children’s views about participation, and recognize their right to determine their participation
  • encourage their children to participate for their own intrinsic enjoyment, not for the enjoyment or ambition of their parents
  • encourage their children to take responsibility for their own actions, performance and behaviour
  • not force children to participate in the sport
  • not allow their children to compete when ill or injured.

Parents/carers should encourage long term participation in rowing.
Parents/carers should work with the club and/or coach to:

  • ensure that the level and type of participation is appropriate to their child’s stage of development
  • encourage children to play and experience a broad variety of sports, particularly younger children
  • promote individual progress, skill and development before winning in age group competition, to help promote long term participation of children in the sport
  • avoid placing undue pressure on their children
  • ensure that the ability and performance of their child in sport is not excessively linked with their own perceptions of self-worth.

Parents/carers should support their child’s involvement in training, events and competitions.
Parents/carers should:

  • not force their child to take part in the sport
  • encourage their child’s effort
  • be willing to become a member of the club
  • be aware of club codes of conduct
  • be aware of the club’s Welfare Officer
  • be aware of the club, competition or event’s policies and procedures to ensure the safety of children and others
  • provide consent for their child to participate in training, competition and events
  • ask about the club’s policy for recruiting coaches and officials working with children and vulnerable adults
  • inform the coach of individual needs of the child that may affect their participation, including medical conditions or illness.
  • discuss the requirements of the sport and the nature and duration of the coaching relationship with coaches, at an agreed time and place.
  • provide their children with equipment to suit the conditions, i.e. clothing suitable for cold/warm weather, a water bottle, and sunscreen.
  • receive information from the coach about the schedule of the programme of training and the rationale behind the activities
  • assist clubs to care for their children, and not to treat the club as a child minding service
  • make arrangements to collect their child promptly at the end of sessions at the agreed time.

Parents/carers should be a good role model at clubs competitions and events
Parents/carers should:

  • encourage their child to accept all individuals and not to discriminate on the basis of their ability, gender, race, religion etc.
  • act in a sportsmanlike way when supporting and spectating
  • use correct and proper language at all times
  • be encouraging towards their children and others
  • accept that errors are an important part of learning and not condemn children for making them
  • respect officials of the club, event or competition and other participants, supporters and parents
  • act with respect for the decisions of officials and coaches, and without criticism
  • avoid swearing at, yelling at, or chastising children, officials, coaches, or others
  • raise any concerns they have about a child or coach, or their behaviour, as soon as possible with the appropriate designated person at the club or event
  • encourage children to follow the rules of events and competitions and to adhere to British Rowing guidelines
  • not coach their children at training and competition, unless engaged in recognised coaching responsibilities
  • avoid smoking or consuming alcohol whilst supporting.


Coaches have a responsibility of care
Coaches should:

  • take action to report concerns they may have about behaviour towards a child or vulnerable adult, following British Rowing guidelines. Non-action is unacceptable
  • receive, record and report allegations of abuse according to British Rowing guidelines
  • hold valid qualifications
  • hold appropriate insurance.

Coaches should ensure safe practice at all times
Coaches should:

  • follow British Rowing water safety guidance
  • coaches should ensure that the environment is as safe as possible by assessing and managing risk to an appropriate level
  • promote the execution of safe and correct practice.

Coaches should look to continually develop their practices
Coaches should:

  • accept that improvements in their coaching can always be made
  • gain qualifications at a level appropriate to their coaching context
  • follow a programme of continuous professional development
  • engage in self-analysis and reflective practice to identify areas for personal improvement
  • practise in an open and transparent fashion that encourages other coaches to contribute to or learn from their knowledge and experience
  • contribute to the development of coaching by sharing knowledge and ideas with others
  • contribute to initiatives to promote the standards and quality of coaching and coaches
  • learn about issues in the sport that might affect coaches or participants
  • learn about the role of rowing in current local, regional and national initiatives.

Coaches should make a commitment to providing quality coaching service to participants.
Coaches should:

  • plan and prepare for all sessions so that they meet the needs of participants and are appropriate and progressive
  • maintain appropriate records with regard to participants
  • support talent.

Coaches should follow British Rowing guidelines on coaching and safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.
Coaches should:

  • ensure that any physical contact is appropriate and necessary and is carried out within recommended guidelines, and with the participant’s full consent and approval
  • avoid any form of sexually related contact, innuendo, flirting or inappropriate gestures when coaching, particularly with under-age participants
  • avoid sexual intimacy with participants either whilst coaching them, and also in the period of time immediately following the end of the coaching relationship
  • arrange to transfer a participant to another coach if it is clear that an intimate relationship is developing.

Coaches should coach in a participant focused way
Coaches should:

  • promote the welfare and best interests of participants
  • assess each individual’s needs, and support individuals to determine their goals
  • recognise and accept when it is in the participant’s interest, to refer a participant to another appropriate coach or specialist
  • assist the participant to access other appropriate services that could aid their development
  • recognise the rights of participants to confer with other coaches and experts
  • communicate and co-operate with other organisations and individuals in the best interests of the participants
  • obtain the agreement of coaches and participants when taking over some or all coaching responsibility
  • be aware of and communicate any conflict of responsibility as soon as it becomes apparent
  • be aware of the physical needs of participants, especially those still growing and ensure that training loads and intensities are appropriate
  • maintain the same level of interest when the athlete is sick or injured.

Coaches should coach in a professional manner
Coaches should:

  • be transparent and accountable in their coaching practices
  • be professional and accept responsibility for their actions
  • clarify from the beginning of the coaching relationship what is expected of the participants and also what they can expect from the coach
  • allow athletes access to an appropriate complaints mechanism
  • respect the individual’s right to transfer between clubs, coaches or other sports • only assume roles for which they are qualified and prepared
  • not misrepresent their level of qualification or experience
  • seek out a balance between coaching and lifestyle commitments to maintain an effective and enjoyable coaching career.

Coaches should ensure that rowing is a positive recreational activity
Coaches should:

  • create an environment free of fear and harassment
  • help to maintain enjoyment of rowing
  • promote the concept of a balanced lifestyle, supporting the well-being of the athlete both in and out of the sport
  • aid participants’ motivation
  • avoid placing undue pressure on children
  • ensure that the ability and performance of the child in sport is not excessively linked with their own perceptions of self-worth.

Coaches should promote rowing and health.
Coaches should:

  • actively promote the benefits of participation in rowing
  • promote drug-free sport
  • educate participants on the British Rowing policy on the use of performance enhancing drugs and supplements
  • should promote health
  • avoid smoking, drinking or drug use before or whilst coaching, as this portrays a negative image and could affect the safety of participants in rowing.

Coaches should encourage personal empowerment.
Coaches should:

  • recognise the rights of all participants to be treated as individuals
  • allow participants to express their own views and make their own decisions
  • canvass and respect participants’ reasons for rowing, even if they consider fun and participating more important than winning
  • ensure that participants are fully informed of the requirements of the sport and the coaching programme
  • respect participants’ opinions when making decisions about their participation in the sport
  • encourage participants to take responsibility for their own development and actions
  • involve participants as part of the decision making process.

Coaches should communicate appropriately.
Coaches should:

  • follow the guidelines in the British Rowing Safeguarding and Protecting Children Policy regarding communication with parents and young people
  • communicate with and provide feedback to participants in a manner which reflects respect and care
  • avoid criticising, or engaging in demeaning descriptions of others
  • be discreet in any conversations about participants, coaches or other individuals
  • discuss and agree with participants what information is confidential.

Coaches should establish expectations.
Coaches should:

  • clarify the nature of the coaching services being provided for participants
  • inform participants and parents of juniors of the requirements of the sport
  • discuss with parents and other relevant parties the potential impact of the coaching programme on junior participants
  • inform athletes or their parents of any potential costs in accessing their coaching services.

Coaches should be positive role models.
Coaches should:

  • model, and promote adherence to, the codes of conduct
  • display high standards in the use of language, manners, punctuality, preparation and presentation
  • operate within the rules and spirit of rowing
  • promote the positive aspects of the sport
  • challenge and not condone discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, colour, disability, sexuality, age, religion, political opinion, occupation or marital status in the coaching environment
  • treat all individuals in the sport with respect at all times, and be fair, honest and considerate
  • display control, respect, dignity and professionalism to all involved in rowing
  • encourage mutual respect between participants in the sport
  • promote tolerance
  • act equitably in their coaching and combat discrimination on the basis of gender, age, race, colour, sexual orientation, political opinion etc
  • act in a non-violent way
  • address any bullying between participants.

Coaches should be models of sportsmanlike behaviour.
Coaches should:

  • act with respect for the opposition
  • condemn cheating.


Coaches of juniors must be familiar with and follow the British Rowing Safeguarding & Protecting Children Policy and Guidance documents.
Coaches of juniors should coach in a child-centred way.
Coaches should:

  • recognise that children have rights
  • ensure that activities are appropriate for children
  • consider the child’s rights and needs before considering the champion
  • work in partnership with the child’s parents to ensure the child’s needs are meet
  • keep holistic development as the core objective of participation in rowing
  • respect the child’s interests in activities other than in sports
  • not force their aspirations and ambition on children
  • respect the right to privacy of young athletes.

Coaches of juniors should emphasise quality of training over quantity.
Coaches should:

  • ensure that the level and type of participation is appropriate to their child’s stage of development
  • encourage children to play and experience a broad variety of sports, particularly younger children
  • promote individual progress, skill and development before winning in age group competition to help promote long term participation of children in the sport
  • encourage the development of good technique before performances
  • recognise that the stage and rate of development is not the same for all juniors and allow child participants to compete at their own current level
  • emphasise the role that maturation has to play in age group competition
  • consider whether it is appropriate to juniors’ developmental stage for them to be engaged in intensive training
  • ensure that children are not forced to train to excess
  • protect the right to health and rest
  • coach juniors according to the how much and how often junior guidelines.

August 2010, reviewed in 2014. Next review due in 2017.

The printed version is available here: Code of Conduct.

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