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06 Jan 2021 24,112

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: We’re here for the coach

The coaching family continues to be challenged due to the restrictions in place to beat this virus, however, we know that coaches continue to connect and support participants regardless of the circumstances, and UK Coaching is here to help coaches do that safely and legally.

Here is the latest information for coaches on the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation from across the UK – updated 15 April 2021.

The Government's roadmap out of lockdown restrictions is now at Step 2, which began on the 12 April. 

As per Sport England, this means:

  • outdoor sports facilities – such as tennis and basketball courts, sports pitches, outdoor skateparks and outdoor swimming pools can reopen.
  • organised outdoor sport and physical activity for adults and children can return and are exempt from legal gathering limits
  • informal outdoor sport should still follow the legal gathering limit for outdoors (no more than six people or two households)
  • indoor leisure centres, gyms and indoor swimming pools can now open for adult individual/household only activities.

Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes fall under Step 3, and will be allowed again no earlier than 17 May.


  • If an outdoor personal training or coaching session falls within the definition of 'organised' sport - that it's been formally organised by a qualified instructor, club, national governing body of sport, company or charity and follows sport-specific guidance - then there are no restrictions on the PT/coach to participant ratio. 
  • Personal training sessions can take place in outdoor spaces, including people's gardens. 
  • Personal training sessions can take place indoors one-to-one or for one household
  • Sessions cannot take place indoors in people's homes, unless the premises are classified as a business premises. 
  • Coach education courses/professional training can go ahead as long as its recognised by a professional body.

For more information on the above and more FAQs about the latest Return to Play guidance head to sportengland.org.

For further guidance on what you can and cannot do, read the Government’s National Lockdown: Stay at Home guidance. The following is excerpted from the guidance:

Exercise, sport and physical activity

You can do unlimited exercise outdoors but there are limits on the number of people you can exercise with. It can be either:

  • on your own
  • in a group of up to 6 people
  • in a larger group of any size from up to 2 households (and their support bubbles, if eligible)

You can also take part in formally organised outdoor sports or licensed physical activity with any number of people. This must be organised by a business, charity or public body and the organiser must take the required precautions, including the completion of a risk assessment. You should avoid contact in training and, for some sports, avoid contact in all activities. Read the guidance on what avoiding contact means for your sport.

Indoor leisure facilities may open for you to exercise on your own, or with your household or support bubble.

You must not meet indoors for sport, except for:

  • disability sport
  • sports with your household or support bubble
  • sports as part of the curriculum in education
  • supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s (including those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020), this should be limited to 15 participants

You should follow the guidance:

Elite sportspeople

Elite sportspeople (or those on an official elite sports pathway) can meet in larger groups or meet indoors to compete and train. They can be joined by their coaches if necessary, or their parents and guardians if they’re under 18.

We will update and refresh this guidance as new information becomes available. 

UK Coaching urges all coaches to continue following health and safety measures to protect themselves and their families against the virus. These can be found via the WHO (World Health Organisation) website.

We are proud of how much our coaching community has done to support society by offering a supportive network for people all over the UK during the pandemic. We love seeing and sharing the work of all coaches, so please continue to post and tag us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. We encourage you to continue your journey of self-improvement and up-skilling by accessing our learning and development resources.

And we will continue to support you by offering further guidance, resources and lobbying for more support for you from a range of funding sources.

Information on Home Nations

The Scottish Government's stay at home regulations came into effect on 5 January 2021. Visit the Scottish Government's website for full details.

The Scottish Government has also set out a timetable for its route out of lockdown.

With regards to sport and exercise:

  • You are permitted to meet others outdoors for informal exercise or sport, provided you follow the rules on meeting other households outdoors, which are:
    • From the 16 April: Up to 6 people from up to 6 households, plus children under 12, can socialise outdoors.
    • Young people aged 12 to 17 can:
      • meet outdoors in groups of up to 4 people from 4 different households
      • take part in outdoor non-contact sports and other organised activities in groups of up to 15 people (this number includes up to 2 adult coaches or instructors) - and travel across local council boundaries to take part in these activities
      • outdoor contact sports are not permitted, except for professional sport.
  • Under 12s: Organised outdoor contact sport, non-contact sport, exercise, personal training, coaching and group activities are permitted.
  • Adults: Organised outdoor non-contact sports, exercise, personal training and coaching are permitted in groups of up to 15 people (including coaches and instructors), providing appropriate guidance is followed.
    • Outdoor contact sports are not permitted, except for professional sport. 
  • Outdoor gyms can remain open. 
  • Indoor sports facilities required to remain closed, expect for professional sport use. 
  • Leisure centres, gyms and indoor swimming pools will be allowed to reopen from 26 April.

For further information see the latest sport and physical activity guidance from sportscotland and sportscotland's guidance for coaches, leaders, personal trainers and instructors.

Currently, all of Wales is at alert level 4.

New rules on sport, exercise and outdoor activity come into force in Wales on 26 April and the 3 May. As per Sport Wales:

  • 26 April - organised outdoor activities for up to 30 adults
  • 3 May - gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can re-open. This will include individual or one-to-one training. 

Outdoor Activity

  • Stay local restrictions are lifted, you can travel anywhere within Wales.
  • 6 people from 2 households can meet outdoors, socially distanced.
  • Organised outdoor activities can restart for children under 18 (or persons who were aged under 18 on 31 August 2020). There is no limit on the number of children and young children that can attend, but organisers should be mindful of the space available. 
  • Governing body return to play guidelines should be followed at all time.

Elite Sport

  • Professional sports will be able to continue under Alert Level 4. 

The full measures and restrictions can be found on the Welsh Government's website and Sport Wales' website.

The Northern Ireland Governmnent has issued new guidance on its COVID-19 restrictions. 

Up to 10 people (including children of all ages) from a maximum of two households can participate in outdoor sport and exercise.

Up to 15 people (including coaches) can participate in outdoor sports training through clubs or individuals affiliated with recognised governing bodies or representative organisations for sport and physical activity.

All indoor spaces, such as clubhouses and sport facilities including changing rooms, showers, kitchens, and meeting rooms must stay closed, apart from essential toilet facilities.

Other essential information

  • Indoor sport is not permitted, other than at elite level.
  • Elite training and competition can continue, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Elite sporting events must be held behind closed doors without spectators.
  • Physical education delivered by or for schools, pre-schools and other education providers is permitted to continue.

For the full guidance head to NIDirect.GOV.UK.

General information for all coaches

We suggest that coaches who continue to coach follow the guidance laid out above, and stick to the key points below:

  • The coach and their participants remain two metres (six feet) away from each other (and others in the vicinity) at all times.
    • You are at higher risk of being directly exposed to respiratory droplets released by someone talking or coughing when you are within two metres of someone and have face-to-face contact with them. You can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side rather than facing people. 
  • There is no physical contact between the coach and their participants, eg handshakes, ‘high-fives’, etc.
  • Good hand hygiene is observed, ie hands are washed before and after the coaching activity; and hand sanitiser gel is used at intervals during the coaching activity.
  • The coach should ensure that participants avoid sharing the same equipment. Additionally, kit and equipment should be changed, washed and sanitised regularly.
  • Coaches and participants should avoid touching their faces.
  • Coaches, who have participants under the age of 18 or who are deemed to be a vulnerable adult, should seek consent from a parent/guardian or other responsible adult, as well as arrange appropriate drop-off and pick-up strategies, and ensure their participants have clearly defined equipment and kit to avoid contamination with others. 
  • Coaches whose participants have been shielding should read the latest updated guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.

If a coach or their participants show symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), eg a new continuous cough; a high temperature; loss of taste and or smell, they and their household should isolate at home and cancel any scheduled coaching activity.

The NHS provides further information on what to do if you or anyone you have been in contact with is showing symptoms.

Coaches across the country should be in regular contact with their respective governing body of sport or respective Home Country Sports Councils for updates on guidance and restrictions.

Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland, sportscotland, Sport Wales.

Head to our Return to Coaching Roadmap for lots of expert guidance on navigating the phased return to face-to-face coaching safely.

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