Physical Contact with Athletes


Appropriate physical contact between athletes and coaches, staff members, contractors or volunteers is a productive and inevitable part of sport. Athletes are more likely to acquire advanced physical skills and enjoy their sport participation through appropriate physical contact. However, guidelines for appropriate physical contact reduce the potential for misconduct in sport.


CLCR adheres to the following principles and guidelines in regards to physical contact with our athletes:

Common Criteria for Appropriate Physical Contact

Physical contact with athletes – for safety, consolation and celebration – has multiple criteria in common which make them both safe and appropriate. These include:

  • the physical contact takes place in public
  • there is no potential for, or actual, physical or sexual intimacies during the physical contact
  • the physical contact is for the benefit of the athlete, not to meet an emotional or other need of an adult


The safety of our athletes is paramount and in many instances we make the athletic space safer through appropriate physical contact. Examples include:

  • spotting an athlete so that they will not be injured by a fall or piece of equipment
  • positioning an athlete’s body so that they more quickly acquire an athletic skill, get a better sense of where their body is in space, or improve their balance and coordination
  • making athletes aware that they might be in harm’s way because of other athletes practicing around them or because of equipment in use
  • releasing muscle cramps


Sports are physical by definition and we recognize participants often express their joy of participation, competition, achievement and victory through physical acts. We encourage these public expressions of celebration, which include:

  • greeting gestures such as high-fives, fist bumps, and brief hugs
  • congratulatory gestures such as celebratory hugs, “jump-arounds” and pats on the back for any form of athletic or personal accomplishment


It may be appropriate to console an emotionally distressed athlete (e.g., an athlete who has been injured or has just lost a competition).  Appropriate consolation includes publicly:

  • embracing a crying athlete
  • putting an arm around an athlete while verbally engaging them in an effort to calm them down (“side hugs”)
  • lifting a fallen athlete off the playing surface and “dusting them off” to encourage them to continue competition


Prohibited forms of physical contact, which shall be reported immediately under our Reporting Policy include, without limitation:

  • asking or having an athlete sit in the lap of a coach, administrator, staff member or volunteer
  • lingering or repeated embraces of athletes that go beyond the criteria set forth for acceptable physical contact
  • slapping, hitting, punching, kicking or any other physical contact meant to discipline, punish or achieve compliance from an athlete
  • “cuddling” or maintaining prolonged physical contact during any aspect of training, travel or overnight stay
  • playful, yet inappropriate contact that is not a part of regular training, (e.g., tickling or “horseplay” wrestling)
  • continued physical contact that makes an athlete obviously uncomfortable, whether expressed or not
  • any contact that is contrary to a previously expressed personal desire for decreased or no physical contact, where such decreased contact is feasible in a competitive training environment.


Violations of this policy must be reported to a supervisor, CLCR board member or coach and violations will be addressed under our Disciplinary Rules and Procedure.  Some forms of physical contact may constitute child physical or sexual abuse that must be reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities.