Coaching concerns across the province

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Coaches Association of Ontario report finds coaches play a vital role in sport, but only half are trained

Is your son or daughter’s coach properly certified?

It’s a question you may want to ask.

The Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO), with the support of Hydro One Networks Inc. (Hydro One), released the 2023 Ontario Coaching Report today, on the state of coaching across all levels of sport in Ontario.

The report reveals that although one in four adults in Ontario say they have coached sport in their lifetime, only 58-per cent say they are required to complete training and education prior to beginning coaching and interacting with athletes. Overall, the report concludes more can be done to mandate training and support coaches at the grassroots, club and organizational level.

The report’s most startling findings reveal:

One in three coaches do not complete a background check or sign a code of conduct.

  • 33 per cent of coaches are aware of hazing rituals within their club or organization; 82% of those aware of hazing feel that it is part of team building or the way they do it is okay.
  • 76 per cent of coaches are volunteers who often pay for training and equipment out-of-pocket and do not receive compensation.
  • 82 percent of coaches feel that coaching helps them to maintain good mental health.
  • 69 percent of coaches believe that coaching still has a long way to go before it is truly equitable, representative, and inclusive.

Coaches that do receive training were found to be significantly more confident in their abilities and showed greater levels of awareness in creating safe sport environments, such as proper concussion protocol, eliminating hazing rituals and intervening when a participant is showing signs of emotional and/or mental distress.

Accessing free training and resources like the Safe Sport 101 Playbook developed by CAO, Hydro One, and the Safe Sport Lab at the University of Toronto, is a great starting point to provide coaches with a winning game plan for building successful sport experiences on and off the playing field.

Coaches, parents, and organizations can view the report and attend one of the free upcoming webinars on December 5 or 7 to learn more about how to use the latest findings at

One thousand coaches representing over 80 sports were surveyed by Leger for the inaugural report, a significant step in assessing the demographics, successes, challenges and requirements of coaches in all sport contexts, ranging from grassroots to club competition and high performance.

“As a very passionate expert in Canada’s Safe Sport movement, I feel strongly that there has been a lack of support, tools, and resources available to coaches. To navigate the new era of Safe Sport, coaches must receive the same level of support and attention as our athletes. Education matters, and I applaud CAO and Hydro One for providing the necessary resources for coaches.” – Allison Forsyth, founder of Generation Safe and former Canadian Olympic Alpine Skier.

“While I have been a Gold Medal Olympic coach for Canada, most of my coaching has been at the local community level with youth and master athletes. The foundation of being a great coach is built upon a passion to help others, and the right training and education. These tools and other support such as mentoring and coaching networks were invaluable to my development as a coach and have helped me succeed on and off the field of play.” – Barrie Shepley, Canadian Olympic triathlon coach.

“Coaches play such a significant role in shaping the environment and experience for everyone participating. Research shows that a positive coach is one of the most influential people in a young person’s life. And with so many Ontarians coaching in their communities, it is vital that the training and supports our coaches need are there to create the best possible experience.” – Jeremy Cross, CAO Executive Director.

“At Hydro One, safety is our priority. The safety of our team members and the communities where we work, live and play is the foundation to energizing life for customers and Ontarians,” said Omar Javed, Vice President, Communications, Marketing and Investor Relations, Hydro One.

“It’s important to call attention to the needs of coaches through this report and support additional training because of the critical role coaches play in building a safe, fun and rewarding environment for their athletes and teams.”

So the next time you’re at the arena, field or gym for a practice or game, perhaps even just out of curiosity, ask your son or daughter’s coach if he or she is properly certified.

There’s a good chance they’re not.

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