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Posted in: General

Coaches Personal Appearance

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  • JohnP


    I am trying to locate some guidance on personal appearance for coaches and it's impact professionally on the club/business/participant you are seen by.

    Vague dress codes I can find, but I am particularly interested in items like hairstyles, piercings, general tidyness level etc.

    Is anyone aware of anything? Or perhaps even has personal opinions on acceptable hair styles etc?

  • LizBurkinshaw

    Hi John, I don't know of any specific guidance aside from guidance that is health and safety related in Safe Practice by AfPE in school settings. What is your governing body guidance?

    A few things to consider however is that a club or team agree amongst themselves a dress code which includes these things, that it would fit with self determination theory around autonomy and more likely be adhered to.

    Personally I wouldn't be looking at a dress code that imposed anything around hairstyles, piercing or untidiness unless it truly impacted on health and safety. ie hair tied back would be a reasonable request but imposing natural colour requirements wouldn't be IMHO.

    I think 'dress codes' based on projecting the 'right image' are now not in line with having sessions being inclusive and open to all and welcoming to new coaches. The right image should be a diverse one which lessens the need for dress codes I believe.

  • JohnP

    Interesting response, thanks

    Nothing specific in governing body, hence the question. 

    In this case it's weighing inclusiveness against commercial image, look however you want even if it turns away customers, isn't really an approach I can afford to take unfortunately. :)

    i am going to give the self determination theory a bit of thought, it's the way I was leaning, so think I should proceed that way for now.

    Still interested to hear other thoughts of course :)

  • Bob_G

    I think a lot depends on your Club/Customers - working a lot for County and NGB it is impressed on me that a "professional" appearance, neat, tidy, including hair style projects a professional image. It is especially important when working with juniors, If however you are working in a Club environment with Adults then it might not be so important.

    After all it is the coaching which is important. 

  • JohnP

    Absolutely, and we work a lot with juniors inside a school environment, as well more traditional adult club style work.

    it has proven difficult to apply a Professional standard, while defining that in a way that ignores the company directors personal tastes, rather defining the standard based on something more generic.... just not sure what :D

  • andrewb62

    hi John

    Not sure what sport(s) you are coaching, but this is excerpted from the ECB Coaches Association "Coaches' Code of Conduct".

    Responsibilities – personal standards

    Statement: Cricket coaches must demonstrate proper personal behaviour and conduct at all times.

    Issues: Cricket coaches should project an image of health, cleanliness and functional efficiency.

    Actions: Display high standards in use of language, manner, punctuality, preparation and presentation.

    My emphasis on presentation - it is not explicitly stated in the Code, but this action appears to relate specifically to personal presentation and, implicitly, appearance.  ECB CA does promote its own range of clothing, but does not (as far as I can see) define the "high standards".

    I do recall a quite explicit dress code for a coach education session - no caps, no hoodies, no gloves (mid-winter in an un-heated sports hall - by the second week, tutors and coaches were wearing overcoats...).

    One establishment were I coach insists on full cricket whites for all participants (players and coaches)...although visiting professionals appear to be exempt from this stipulation...

  • JohnP

    Archery in my case, and I've found nothing in our guidelines like the ecb ones, but they'll do, thanks!

  • Hydra

    This is interesting... there's an immediate equating of piercings or particular hairstyles as unprofessional and potentially putting people off your sport.  Did I understand that correctly?  

  • JohnP

    Yes, like any job, particularly those that are customer facing, dress code, cleanliness and all aspects of appearance have to come into play.

    To be clear, we aren't talking about anything in regards to ethnicity, religion, etc. 

    We have a coach whose appearance has changed, largely through hairstyle, to a significant degree during his employment.

    There are no issues with his ability, or his personality. 

    However, when customers who know him and like him readily admit that his new appearance would, had he looked like that at first meeting, have affected their decision whether to have become a customer/member in the first place, a commercial imperative has to kick in that's beyond any personal opinions as an employer.

    All I am concerned about is putting across a professional and approachable facade, which I believe can embrace a wide range of style choices. But... how do you define when a  style choice is a bad choice for the role...? That's the problem.

  • Hydra

    Regarding cleanliness...  I am whole-heartedly in agreement that hygiene is a must,  though in a sport environment, there must be certain allowances for sweat! :)  

    It is interesting to me that it's an issue.  I come from a sport where personal expression through appearance is valued rather than a cause for concern, so I guess I find it hard to get my head around the problem.  

    How is style choice linked to a role profile?  How do you define professional and approachable?  Surely that's in the person's demeanour and output rather than a hairstyle?  Does your club not have a number of coaches to offer?  Perhaps there's a place within the environment for the different types / styles of people and your customers would have a choice so if they were put off by one, they would just sign up with the other?

    Do you think it's more of an issue with some traditional sports than others?  (I concede that roller derby is probably an outlier when it comes to issues like this).  


  • SteveRuis

    One way to think of this is that coaches are like ... wait for it ... sales persons. In effect we are strangers who are trying to "sell" something to those we coach. Our "customers," while they are young, often "buy" what we are selling but soon some scepticism develops (which is all to the good). If we are trying to convince our athletes that doing something (they "pay" in effort) is in their best interest and all we appeal to is authority (Because I am the coach, that's way.) we will not be all that successful. Presenting a professional appearance is an important aspect of our message. This doesn't have to be onerous. We suggest our male coaches wear khaki trousers or shorts and a collared shirt and that female coaches wear the same (you were expecting something different?). We have shirts we supply to our coaches and encourage common sense. This approach seems to work.

  • AbbyBoswell

    Hi everyone,

    This is my first post on Connected Coaches! This topic popped up in my feed and I thought it was an interesting one. I was curious as to whether this varies between sports but on reflection I think it's as much about the general location / context. I'm a triathlon coach (mainly coaching adults in inner London) and my NGB Code of Conduct for coaches says coaches must:

    "Take pride in being a coach, this includes, projecting an image of health, well-dressed, hygiene, appearance, and use of appropriate language and actions"

    Which is not dissimilar to the points outlined by other commenters. Obviously what an image of health, well-dressed, hygiene and appearance means is open to interpretation, but my personal view is that the coach's image should be a result of leading by example when it comes to taking care of yourself and being organised and well prepared for the activity in question.

    I would personally not be comfortable signing up to a code of practice that prohibits things like tattoos and piercings - not because I have any (apart from earlobes), but because being inclusive extends to coaches as well as athletes. The coach's appearance should be approachable within the context in which they are operating - coaching adults in inner London, it's arguable that conforming to 'conventional' standards of appearance could make a sport feel less inclusive. 


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