Road Runners Club of America

Growing the Running Community Since 1958

Coaching Code of Ethics


The RRCA Certified Coach’s Code of Ethics outlines the expected standards of conduct of any person that conducts training programs for runners* and walkers, that coaches runners individually or in a group, either in person or virtually, and any other type of coaching services provided by an RRCA Certified Running Coach that is for profit or for a nonprofit organization. All RRCA Certified Coaches must agree to abide by the RRCA Certified Coach’s Code of Ethics to finalize the certification process.

Ethical Standards

Standard 1: Competence
  1. A coach must remain in good standing with the RRCA by following the annual requirements for maintaining the RRCA Certified Coach credential.
  2. Coaches strive to maintain high standards of excellence in their work. They recognize the boundaries of their particular competencies and the limitations of their expertise.
  3. They provide only those services and use only those techniques for which they are qualified by education, training, or experience. In those areas in which recognized professional standards do not yet exist, coaches exercise careful judgment and take appropriate precautions to protect the welfare of those with whom they work.
  4. Coaches maintain a reasonable level of awareness of current scientific and professional information in their fields of activity, and undertake ongoing efforts to maintain competence in the skills they use. Coaches rely on scientifically and professionally derived knowledge when making professional judgments or when engaging in professional endeavors.
Standard 2: Integrity
  1. Coaches seek to promote integrity in the practice of coaching.
  2. Coaches are honest, fair, and respectful of others.
  3. Coaches do not make public statements that are false, deceptive, misleading, or fraudulent, either because of what they state, convey or suggest, or because of what they omit, concerning their work activities or those of persons or organizations with which they are affiliated. As examples (and not in limitation) of this standard, coaches do not make false or deceptive statements concerning:
    • their training, experience, or competence;
    • their academic degrees or credentials
    • their institutional or association affiliations;
    • their services; or
    • the basis for, or results or degree of success of their services.
Standard 3: Professional Responsibility
  1. Coaches uphold professional standards of conduct, clarify their professional roles and obligations, accept appropriate responsibility for their behavior, and adapt their methods to the needs of different athletes.
  2. Coaches consult with, refer to, or cooperate with other professionals and institutions to the extent needed to serve the best interest of their athletes, or other recipients of their services. Coaches’ moral standards and conduct are personal matters to the same degree as is true for any other person, except when coaches’ conduct may compromise their professional responsibilities or reduce the public’s trust in the coaching profession and coaches.
  3. Coaches take reasonable steps to avoid harming their athletes or other participants, and to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and unavoidable.
Standard 4: Respect for Participants* and Dignity
  1. Coaches do not engage in discrimination based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, socioeconomic status, or any basis proscribed by law.
  2. Coaches respect the fundamental rights, dignity, and worth of all participants and clients. Coaches are aware of cultural, individual, and role differences, including those due to age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status. Coaches try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on those factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone unfair discriminatory practices.
  3. Coaches do not engage in behavior that is harassing or demeaning to persons with whom they interact in their work based on factors such as those persons’ age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, or socioeconomic status.
Standard 5: Concern for Others’ Welfare
  1. Coaches seek to contribute to the welfare of those with whom they interact professionally. In their professional actions, coaches consider the welfare and rights of their athletes and other participants
  2. Coaches recognize that their personal problems and conflicts may interfere with their effectiveness. Accordingly, they refrain from undertaking an activity when they know or should know that their personal problems are likely to lead to harm to athletes or other participants to whom they may owe a professional obligation. When coaches become aware of personal problems that may interfere with their performing work-related duties adequately, they take appropriate measures, such as obtaining professional consultation or assistance, and determine whether they should limit, suspend, or terminate their work-related duties.
  3. When conflicts occur among coaches’ obligations or concerns, they attempt to resolve these conflicts and to perform their roles in a responsible fashion that avoids or minimizes harm. Coaches are sensitive to differences in power between themselves and others, and they do not exploit or mislead other people during or after professional relationships.
Standard 6: Coaches Do Not Misuse Their Influence
  1. Coaches do not engage in sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is sexual solicitation, physical advances, or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature, and that is unwelcome, offensive, or creates a hostile environment, and the coach knows or is told this. Sexual harassment can consist of a single intense or severe act or of multiple persistent or pervasive acts.
  2. Because coaches’ professional judgments and actions may affect the lives of others, they are alert to guard against personal, financial, social, organizational, or political factors that might lead to misuse of their influence. A coach refrains from entering into or promising another personal, professional, financial, or other relationship with such persons if it appears likely that such a relationship reasonably might impair the coach’s objectivity or otherwise interfere with the coach’s effectively performing his or her functions as a coach, or might harm or exploit the other party.
  3. Coaches do not exploit athletes or other participants over whom they have supervisory, evaluative, or other authority. Coaches do not engage in sexual/romantic relationships with athletes or other participants over whom the coach has evaluative, direct, or indirect authority, because such relationships are likely to impair judgment or be exploitative.
Standard 7: Responsible Coaching
  1. Coaches are aware of their professional responsibilities to the community and the society in which they work and live. They apply and make public their knowledge of sport of running in order to contribute to human welfare. As such, coaches comply with this Code of Ethics when making public statements relating to their professional services, products, or publications.
  2. Coaches comply with applicable laws, guidelines, philosophies, policies, and other procedures outlined for being an RRCA Certified Coach.
  3. When coaches provide services to an individual, a group, or an organization, they provide the service using language that is reasonably understandable to the recipient of those services, appropriate information beforehand about the nature of such services, the fees if applicable for the services, and appropriate information about results and conclusions of the services provided.
  4. Coaches do not tolerate the use of performance-enhancing drugs and support athletes’ efforts to be drug-free.
Standard 8: Resolving Ethical Issues
  1. Coaches have an obligation to be familiar with this Code of Ethics, other applicable ethics codes. Lack of awareness or misunderstanding of an ethical standard is not itself a defense to a charge of unethical conduct.
  2. If the demands of an organization with which coaches are affiliated conflict with this Code of Ethics, coaches clarify the nature of the conflict, make known their commitment to this Code of Ethics, and to the extent feasible, seek to resolve the conflict in a way that permits the fullest adherence to this Code of Ethics.
  3. When a coach is uncertain whether a particular situation or course of action would violate this Code of Ethics, the coach should consult with other coaches knowledgeable about ethical issues, with the RRCA Director of Coaching Education, or with other appropriate authorities in order to choose a proper response.
  4. When coaches believe that there may have been an ethical violation by another coach, they attempt to resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of that individual if an informal resolution appears appropriate and when intervention does not violate any athlete rights that may be involved.  If an ethical violation is of a serious nature and informal resolution is not appropriate, a coach may report the issue to the RRCA Director of Coaching Education for further examination of the issue in consultation with the RRCA Executive Director and if appropriate the RRCA Board of Directors. Based on findings of the RRCA, a gross violation of and refusal to change practices related to this Code of Ethics may result in the RRCA revoking the RRCA Certified Coach credential.

Adopted by the RRCA Board of Directors August 2014

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