Athlete Poaching & Etiquette

Athlete Poaching

Below is an article on Athlete coaching and coaching etiquette.

This was summarized and compiled by an Australian Coach.

I will look for more peer-reviewed materials next time.

I asked Darren for permission to use his article on Athlete Poaching.

And am very grateful he allowed me to share his views. 

In some countries, coaches can get warnings from their NSA if many complaints are filed about athletes’ continued poaching. 

Athlete Poaching



The Ethics of Changing Coaches

During their sporting career, athletes may, for one reason or another, consider leaving one coach or training group to join another coach or training group.

However, the transfer of athletes between coaches and/or training groups can be a delicate and sometimes emotional one for both the athlete/s and the coach/es affected. Therefore, any move between coaches requires careful consideration.

Also, an effort to maintain the dignity of everyone involved.

And avoid potential conflict that can be caused by such a move, the Australian Track & Field Coaches Association recommends that:


1. No coach or organization should ever entice athletes from one squad to join theirs. Poaching

  • I encourage all young athletes and parents to be wary of coaches who, knowing that an athlete already has a coach, still approach that athlete to join their squad.
  • Above all, this attempted “poaching” of athletes is questionable conduct.
  • And is generally frowned upon by the coaching community.


2. Each coach should respect the work of others

  • However, athletes and parents should be wary of coaches who “put down” an athlete’s current coach or indicate that they would be a better coach.
  • In an excellent article Tips for Choosing Coach, Grant Jenkins writes


“TIP: Don’t use a coach that slams other coaches. Great coaches are busy coaches, and busy coaches don’t have the time to bother themselves with gossip and put-downs.”


3. If a coach/athlete relationship ends, the coach should ensure that the parting is conducted amicably and with dignity.

  • Coaches have to take a mature approach to this process.
  • Also, it must be athlete-centred, not coach-centred. Simultaneously, a cooperative approach should be undertaken to ensure the best outcome for the athlete.
  • In saying this, I also believe that parents and athletes have as much responsibility as the coach to ensure that the parting is done amicably and with dignity.


4. When an athlete/parent enters into discussions with another coach to establish a new coach-athlete relationship, the athlete/parent should advise the current coach of their intentions.

  • This is rarely done well, if at all.
  • I understand how confronting and difficult it can be for athletes or parents to raise such a topic with a coach.
  • It is often not the news that a coach wants to hear.
  • However, as a coach, I much prefer people to be upfront with such things.
  • Therefore I respect the openness and honesty it requires.
  • A coach’s reaction to such a discussion demonstrates a lot about their character.
  • However, a poor coach reaction probably indicates that the athlete/parents are doing the right thing and looking elsewhere for coaching.


5. It is incumbent on the new coach to ensure that the current coach is informed of the potential athlete transfer before entering into a relationship with the athlete

  • The first question a coach should ask of an athlete or parent who is enquiring about their coaching services is:
    • “Do you currently receive any coaching?”
    • Or “Do you currently have a coach?”.
  • However, if the answer is “Yes.”
  • The new coach must insist that the current coach is informed of the athlete’s intentions to seek coaching elsewhere.
  • However, when I have been in the situation of athletes/parents wanting to join my training group from another group.
  • Also, I have gone as far as contacting the current/former coach myself. To make sure everything has been communicated to my satisfaction.


6. A transfer done amicably and ethically will leave all parties involved to converse with each other without hostility.

  • Also, a transfer done well should see everyone involved remain on good terms.
  • However, there should be no lingering awkwardness, suspicion, antagonism, or ill feeling.
  • Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
  • Therefore using the above recommendations will go a long way towards preventing these problems and promoting a positive outcome.

(Wensor, D. (2017, March 30)


Asking Athletes in the Philippines be allowed to decide their own coach? Please comment below why and why not and vote in our poll. And oh yes please SHARE THIS ARTICLE.

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The Importance of Legal Contracts Grassroots Coaching Agreements with Parents in the Philippines

It has become common practice for some Manila Colleges to approach Athletes’ parents to recruit athletes.

This sometimes will include a monetary exchange with the College giving money to the Athlete’s parents they wish to recruit.

In my view, we owe our parents a lot. 

This lump-sum payment or payments should be going to the Grass root coach that developed the athlete.

At the same time, the Parents clothed, fed, and supported their children. Therefore, parents did not develop the child as an athlete.

The coach did this.

It’s important to note without the effort of the coach.

The child athlete would not have reached the skill level to be noticed as a potential recruit by Manila College. 

This is why higher-level coaches mustn’t just see grass-root level coaches simply as feeder coaches who are used as Milking Cows.

 And that we want to recognize and appreciate our grassroots coaches.

Suppose recruiting coaches engage the athlete’s existing coach and not just the parents leaving the grass-roots coach out of the process altogether.

This is why coaching agreements are important.

I will argue that the parents are already benefiting from the child getting a free scholarship.

Let’s say a school gives a monetary incentive of 5k 10k or, heck, even 20k pesos to recruit the child. The parents will gain a lot more than that from the years of free scholarships and tuition fees offered. So the smaller amount should go to the Grass root coach.

Quite often, grass-root coaches will use that money to develop more athletes in the future. The grass-roots coaches often put their own money into buying things that their athletes need snacks, water, shoes, equipment, travel expenses, etc.

Not to mention the amount of time that the coach has put in. If this were Australia or any other country, the parents would be paying the coach for his time and services to train their child. But because a lot of parents don’t have much money. So the coach is pretty much doing what he does for free. 

Quite often, a coach is a DEPED teacher who is being paid as a teacher. And just doing coaching on the side out of a passion for no extra money. Or as an ex-athlete who likes to help kids. Suppose parents are given a monetary incentive from a recruitment school. They should hand that over to the coach for the time and effort the coach has made to help make their child skilled enough to get a college scholarship offer.


Grassroots Coaches and Parents

In this case, the disconnect is not with Manila Colleges and grass-root coaches. But between Grass root coaches and parents.

If this practice keeps happening. As coaches cannot enter into arrangements with minors. It may become necessary for grass root coaches to protect their livelihood by making parents sign legal contracts with them regarding remuneration if it becomes available. 

Pinoyathletics encourages engagement in open dialogue and discussion to better the sport, and we welcome all to join our ZOOM Chats.


Why do Athletes Change coaches?

Athletes rarely have one coach throughout their careers.

Coaches change for natural reasons:

Within the sports structure, you start with a junior coach and move to a different coach for a different age group as you get older, or you start training with a national coach and move to another city, often for study or work, joining a new club or university.

Elite athletes change coaches for many reasons:

“Chemistry” is gone after years of working together. Tensions, arguments, frustrations, and conflicts often increase. The athlete may still perform well.

Even with outstanding performances, the athlete is bored with routine workouts and sees new things around him/her. Other coaches may promise to boost the athlete’s performance (especially national coaches). Better circumstances, training, support, facilities, etc. often accompany this. The athlete will work hard to impress the new coach and the former coach.

Most athletes are upset that their growth has stalled after rigorous work. Injuries are most likely to slow progress. The athlete limps from injury to injury, misses championships, and spends more time rehabbing than practising.


Looking for a New Coach

In this instance, people start looking for a new coach, expecting he/she has a magic wand that would instantly heal ailments, resume training, improve performance, and break personal records. But this is difficult. The traumas caused connective tissue scars. Athletes must adjust to new training methods.

The new coach must assess the athlete’s abilities. This takes time, and the eager athlete sees the clock ticking. New coaches often have poorer training circumstances. The player didn’t switch coaches earlier for a reason. Better training and assistance may be why. The new coach may reside farther away, requiring frequent lengthier trips or possibly a move to another city or country.

Coaches of athletes with this background and history face great expectations and low odds. Athletes and coaches must work hard and be patient to succeed. Coaching outstanding athletes is never easy. Coaching elite athletes is hard (Kraaijenhof, H., 2020, Aug 21).



Choi, H., Jeong, Y., & Kim, S.-K. (2020). The Relationship between Coaching Behavior and Athlete Burnout:

Mediating Effects of Communication and the Coach–Athlete Relationship. International Journal of

     Environmental Research and Public Health17(22), 8618. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17228618

Kraaijenhof, H. (2020, Aug 21) Athletes Changing Coaches Retrieved from https://helpingthebesttogetbetter.com/? p=1981

Wensor, D. (2017, March 30). How to Best Manage the Transfer of Athletes Between Coaches. Coaching Young

Athletes. https://coachingyoungathletes.com/2017/03/30/how-to-best-manage-the-transfer-of-athletes-between-coaches/






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