Coach contact in gymnastics to be reintroduced in England - British Gymnastics

Coach contact in gymnastics to be reintroduced in England

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Clubs and delivery partners in England will be able to recommence coach contact in gymnastics sessions, following the development of our Return to Coach Contact Framework Action Plan. The Action Plan and the information within it now supersedes all guidance given on coach contact.

After consultation with the government, and careful consideration and planning with health and safety advisors, medical experts and club representatives, we have created the Coach Contact Framework Action Plan. Phase one of the plan has now been approved by Government and will allow some contact between coaches/instructors and gymnasts to take place in sessions. This will enable gymnasts to safely learn and progress new skills and regain skills they may have learnt before the coronavirus pandemic. This is only applicable for those in England when the return of indoor sport is allowed, no earlier than 12th April

Whilst this is a very positive step for our sport, particularly for those in England, it is important that clubs follow the Action Plan closely to mitigate the risk of the spread of Covid-19. 
We are continuing to speak to Welsh Gymnastics and Scottish Gymnastics who are working with their respective governments to move this forward in their home nations. 
Northern Ireland are continuing to follow government guidance which as yet doesn’t provide specific dates for clubs to reopen indoors. We have submitted our return to coach contact protocols in Northern Ireland and await feedback and the release of further government guidance for when it will be feasible to re-introduce manual support activities.
Kathryn Bonner, Head of Education for British Gymnastics commented: “After a difficult and frustrating 2020 for our community, we’re pleased to be able to offer clubs in England the opportunity to reintroduce the manual supporting of gymnasts under the measures in our Return to Coach Contact Framework Action Plan.”
“After consulting the government and developing this plan, we’re confident that our community can enable coach contact in a safe and responsible way, with coaches using what they have learnt from our courses to manually support gymnasts safely. 
We must stress that the measures we are making available are entirely optional for clubs, coaches/instructors, gymnasts and parents/carers and we encourage everyone in our community to only take part in these types of sessions if they feel comfortable. 
“Whilst the measures in our Action Plan are there to make the sporadic contact involved in manual supporting safer for coaches/instructors and gymnasts, the risk of transmission of the virus will be higher and so clubs must carefully consider whether they would like to incorporate contact at this time. Those in the gymnastics community who do incorporate coach contact must be collectively responsible to ensure the Action Plan is followed so that we can progress with further reintroductions of other elements of the sport in the future.”   
What do clubs need to do? 
Clubs and delivery partners who wish to resume delivery of coach contact must follow all mitigating control measures as stipulated in the Action Plan, for the safety of everyone involved.

This includes but is not limited to: 

  • Ensuring the club operates for a minimum of two weeks following the relevant government guidance, maintaining the appropriate controls, before the Action Plan can be adopted.
  • Following the three-phase approach as per the Return to Coach Contact Framework. It is essential that clubs and coaches only permit coach contact activities in line with phase one. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will be advising British Gymnastics of when it is safe and appropriate for movement into phase two and three. Therefore, until permission is granted from the government, the additional phases are for information only. 
  • Educating all staff and gymnasts on the required practices and controls in the Action Plan. 
  • Keeping clear records of which gymnasts are being manually supported for track and trace regulations. 
  • Ensuring there are an appropriate number of hand sanitisation stations available throughout the venue and in close proximity to the apparatus or activity station. Additional hand sanitising must be completed by the coach/instructor before and after each individual gymnast is manually supported. 
  • Wearing face coverings where contact is less than two metres from a gymnast.  
  • When not working specifically with a coach/instructor in a manual support activity, gymnasts and coach/instructors must continue to adhere to social distancing and all other guidance.   
In addition, coaches/instructors, gymnasts and their parents/carers, who wish to take part in coach contact activity will need to provide their consent through an opt-in agreement (they can opt-out and stop coach contact activity at any point). 
Where coach contact activities are not being performed in the gym, social distancing must be adhered to (for example, during warm-ups, conditioning, and individual skill work).  
British Gymnastics members can find more information about the Action plan, including the sample opt-in agreement for coaches/instructors, gymnasts and parents/carers on our Return to Coach Contact Framework Action plan page. The FAQs are also live and are available to everyone. 
We’ve also developed a Parents’ and Gymnast Guide which includes information about the Return to Coach Contact.  


Next steps for education
Alongside the awarding bodies, and in line with Ofqual guidance, we are moving closer to a return for our coaching courses and assessments. Kathryn Bonner, Head of Education, provided a short update on this last week.  
We are looking at adapting our course and assessment delivery to make our qualifications more accessible. We hope to be able to roll out online courses from 21st May and online assessments in June. 
We have also adapted our Time to Listen and Level 3 theory courses. We will be providing more information about a CPD module for Level 3 and above coaches in due course.