Courtesy of:

Coaching Theory Level One (1988). National Coaching Certification Program. Coaching Association of Canada


Fair play is a philosophy of coaching. It is grounded in the belief that sport is a moral pursuit, and it emphasizes participation underlying the fair-play philosophy are certain principles. These principles have as their aim the development of a true competitive spirit, true sportsmanship.


The fair play philosophy emphasizes the following:

Respecting the rules of the game

Respecting officials and accepting their decisions

Respecting the opponent

Providing all participants with equal opportunities

Maintaining dignity under all circumstances


The following are some general implications of the fair play philosophy:

Emphasize that the pursuit of excellence is an important goal in and of itself

Emphasize that participating and doing ones best are more important than winning

or losing. The quality of the sport experience is more important than who wins or loses

Remember that all participants are special and important in their own right and

should be treated with respect and dignity

Let participants choose the priority they give to performance. Then listen to what

they say, and adjust your expectations and programs accordingly

Point out that sport is only one aspect of life



Ones self-image affects motivation, learning, athletic performance and personal relationships. You can do a number of things to help participants develop a positive self-image. Being aware of the importance of self-image is essential, but being more positive with participants is the most significant step you can take. Above all, being more positive means accepting participants, interacting with them as people, taking their feelings into account and showing concern for their problems. Make sure participants feel important and accepted regardless of how they perform.


Encourage participants to give one another positive feedback. Appreciation and praise are terrific morale boosters for everyone.


You need to be able to recognize and respect individual differences in this area, because participants drop out when programs do not match their reasons for being in sport. Put another way, you need to be fair to participants either work to give them the program they want OR recommend a program that will better suit their needs.



Participants often drop out of sports because they dont get to play regularly or because achievement is over emphasized. Too serious a program, too little fun, too few chances to play and too much criticism are all common reasons for dropping out of sports.


Remember that winning means much more than scoreboard victories. Winning is personal, and it is best measured in personal terms. So assess and reward individual and team improvement and help participants set achievable goals.