Ethics Guidlines for Team Teaching

(Primary Coaches, Secondary Coaches, Specialty Coaches)

This document has been created to provide guidelines for our professional behavior. This document is not intended to replace the code of ethics already in place. Below are listed a few thoughts regarding the formation of teams and team coaching. This document does not cover all possible issues. These guidelines are meant to be just those… guidelines.

Issue-Recruitment vs. Solicitation

When you advertise yourself in a public domain, you are RECRUITING.  Targeting a skater already established with a coach and suggesting they change to you is SOLICITATION.  Telling a skater already involved in a coaching relationship they will have better results with you is SOLICITATION.

In order for team teaching to be effective for the coach and the skater, coaches need to support each other 100%.  The primary coach is the person who makes the final decisions for the skater and serves as the overall coordinator of the teams’ activities. Secondary coaches need to understand that, while some recognition should go their direction, it is the primary coach who is recognized and accountable for the overall training environment of the athlete. 

There are pros and cons to team teaching and all coaches are urged to consider whether this is the right way for them to teach. Team teaching can be effective when relationships are strong and positive. It can be negative when coaches do not support one another and/or allow athletes or parents to play one coach against another.  For various reasons or factors, not all coaches want to work within a team-coaching environment.  They may be very successful in a solo coaching environment or by just seeking help periodically from various outside resources.


Primary coach: manages, leads, monitors, and divides responsibilities among the secondary and specialty coaches

Secondary coach: supports primary coach, performs the tasks assigned to them by the primary coach

Specialty coach: choreographer, ballet teacher, off ice trainer, etc.

Ingredients for a Successful Coaching Team
Respect for all other team coaches
Communication (regular and on-going)
Defined roles
Division of tasks
Division of tasks Respect for each other

Attributes of a Team Coach:
Team player
Checks ego at the door
Works within his or her boundaries (more positive)

Obligations of Coaches:

Communication is essential in order to create a productive team teaching environment. Establishing who will be the primary coach, secondary coach, etc; will help avoid confusion down the road. In addition, assigning tasks to each member of the team will help avoid conflict.  Team coaches should take great care to speak positively about the “team.” Primary coaches should tell parents exactly what the role of the secondary coach/specialty coach will be. The secondary coach/specialty coach should only teach what is asked of them.

Communication is always the best way to ensure a positive training environment for all involved: the athlete, the coaches, and the parents.


The team coaching staff should support each other at all times and with all clients.

If there is a breakdown within the team, the coaches should discuss and resolve the issue in private, or when appropriate, in a meeting with parents and skaters and team members.

If the decision is to break the team up, leave the particulars between you and the other coach. Airing the problems in front of your clients, other coaches, etc., only creates more problems. 

At the end of each season, evaluate the “team’s” performance. Speak candidly about areas which worked well as well as areas which could have been handled better.

Parents/Athletes are the client and have the right to work with and/or specify primary coaches they feel are best for their skater.

Coaches who choose to teach in teams should have the division of roles spelled out as specifically as possible. Putting it in writing may be the best way to avoid confusion down the road. Below are suggestions of topics to discuss.

  • Who is the primary coach?
  • Who will be the spokesperson for the skater/skaters?
  • Who is the secondary coach?
  • Who is the specialty coach?
  • Who decides what competitions to attend and when the skater will be testing?
  • Who will conduct press interviews?
  • Specific job description of primary coach, secondary coach, specialty coach and trainer
  • General expectations of positions. Team player, etc.
  • How many lessons per week will each coach give?
    • The scheduling time of lessons should be respected by all involved
    • Imperative to maintain a schedule of lessons that helps create progress
  • Length of time secondary and/or specialty coach will be working with the skater/skaters (one season; two months; one week per month)
  • The primary coach and secondary coach should discuss the scenario of a secondary coach taking over the student as the head coach. This is a touchy subject and both parties should come to a mutual agreement prior to entering into a team teaching relationship.

Each coach should remember that athletes come and athletes go. Coaches remain longer than the athletes train.  Therefore, it is imperative that all coaches treat each other with courtesy and respect at all times.