Return to play

Return to play - Clubs and Coaches

The below information has been created to summarise the key information in the British Triathlon Clubs and Coaches Guidance document which can be found here. This updated guidance only applies in England, for information about Scotland's guidance please visit Triathlon Scotland and for information about Wales' guidance please visit Welsh Triathlon

New guidance to support you through the process

Ahead of planning club or coaching activity, it is really important to ensure that all activity is planned in a Covid-19 Secure manner. The government have established guidelines to ensure participant safety when they are taking part in sporting activity. The guidance we have produced must be adhered to in order for our clubs and coaches to remain insured.

Key Requirements

1.    All community clubs must appoint a named Covid-19 Officer

2.    All community clubs must develop a Covid-19 Action Plan and Risk Assessment

3.    All clubs and coaches must comply with government guidance around social distancing before, during and after activity

4.    All clubs and coaches must capture pre-activity health questionnaires, including complying with the government’s ‘test and trace’ initiative across all delivery forms

5.    Clubs and coaches must ensure everyone at the session maintains good hygiene and that provisions are in place to allow for this

6.    All clubs and coaches must ensure additional measures and considerations are in place for all sessions that include children and young people under the age of 18.


Download the full guidance PDF


Before returning to activity, it is the club and coach’s responsibility to ensure they are able to run the session in a Covid-19 Secure manner.

All clubs must develop a Covid-19 plan and risk assessment before resuming activity.

Covid-19 Risk Assessment:

All community clubs must develop a written Covid-19 Action Plan and Risk Assessment prior to activity and maintain it throughout their operation. Ownership of this plan and its delivery sits with the club’s designated Covid-19 Officer on behalf of the wider club committee. This Action Plan and Risk Assessment template for clubs can be found here and for coaches here

Covid-19 Officer:

All clubs need to appoint a named Covid-19 Officer and they will be responsible for oversight of the risk and mitigation planning, communicating information to all parties and ensuring that the necessary standards are met. British Triathlon have created a role description for clubs to use when recruiting their Covid-19 Officer which can be found here

Planning for Social Distancing:

The expectation is that clubs and coaches implement social distancing of two metres across sessions wherever possible and only consider one metre plus mitigation where absolutely necessary.

Pre-attendance Official Symptom Check:

All participants, officials, volunteers and spectators must undergo a self-assessment for any Covid-19 symptoms. No one should leave home to participate in club activity if they, or someone they live with, has any of the Covid-19 symptoms.

Equipment and clothing:

The sharing of equipment (such as bikes, wetsuits, helmets, floats, etc) must be avoided where possible, particularly equipment used around the head and face. Where equipment is shared, it must be cleaned before another person uses it. 

NHS Test and Trace:

The opening up of the sport and physical activity sector (and the wider economy) following the Covid-19 outbreak is being supported by the government’s test and trace initiative. British Triathlon recommend that all affiliated clubs in England support the government’s COVID-19 initiatives by promoting the use of the NHS App amongst all club members, coaches, volunteers, administrators, and visitors (including parents) for all forms of delivery led by the club. This recommendation also extends to all coaches and volunteers operating independently outside of club settings across all forms of delivery.


Increased hygiene measures must be in place at all times. To view a full list of the requirements please view our guidance document here. British Triathlon has also produced an Individual Hygiene Guidance document which can be viewed here. 

First Aid provision:

Ensure access to first aid and emergency equipment is maintained. As there is no access to indoor facilities allowed, consideration should be made to house first aid equipment externally. Please ensure the first aid equipment has been updated appropriately for the Covid-19 pandemic and that first aiders have undertaken appropriate additional training.

Download the full guidance PDF


All clubs must develop a Covid-19 plan and risk assessment before resuming activity, and it is important to take the below points into consideration. 

Injury Treatment:

Injuries should still be treated as participant wellbeing is vital. The best way to protect yourself and others is through rigorous cleaning and personal hygiene. After contact with an injured participant, clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser at the earliest opportunity. Further information for those who may need to act as a ‘first responder’ role in a sports setting is available on this link.

Social Distancing whilst Training:

All participants must remain socially distanced during breaks in activity, with spaced areas for equipment and refreshment storage for each individual including volunteers and coaches. Water bottles or other refreshment containers should in no circumstances be shared. Participants are advised to bring their own in a named container.

Social Distancing on Arrival/Leaving and Post Training:

Before and after activity, participants must maintain government mandated social distancing for social interaction which is currently limited to six people indoors and outdoors. This includes in any available changing rooms and any clubhouse facilities or other venue participants congregate in before and afterwards. Showers in leisure facilities are generally not open to participants but clubs and coaches using such facilities should be guided by the centre’s own measures.

Spectating at Club and Coached Sessions:

Club and coached sessions should only be spectated by parents and/or guardians of children and young people under 18 years of age and limited to one per child/young person where possible. Where multiple parents are spectating at any setting, indoor or outdoor, this should be limited to the six-person gathering limits and all must adhere to social distancing.

Download the full guidance PDF


From 1st October 2020, clubs and coaches will be able to move away from the previous ‘bubbles of six’ concept in settings and move into an operational set-up more in alignment to pre-COVID allowances. This set-up is not a ‘return to normal’ and clubs and coaches are asked to take careful notice of the maximum group sizes within the range of settings and session types described. In summary, there are FOUR session types:

1.     Non-Led Club Sessions: Typically bike or run sessions (but could be any activity under the club’s operation) which are organised by clubs for club members but they are not led by a coach or activator. They have no technical coaching or session plan in place. Coaches and activators may be involved as a club member participant only. Session ownership is taken on the club and therefore it is included in the club’s risk assessment and action plan.

2.     Activator Led Club Sessions: Bike or run sessions led by a qualified British Triathlon Activator only. Note: Activators are not qualified to lead sessions in any other activity other than run and bike.

3.     Recreational Activity Outside of the Club or Coached Setting: Any session which is not led by clubs and therefore does not feature in their risk assessment and action plan. Accountability does not sit with the club and it is therefore not classed as ‘organised sport’.

4.     Coach Led Sessions: Coached session in swim, bike, run or allied activity (such as strength and conditioning activity for example) led by one or more qualified British Triathlon Coaches at Level 1, 2 (including Diploma) and 3. Technical in nature and structured as part of formal session plans. Most commercial coach-led activity will fall under this category.

For the avoidance of doubt, this guidance now enables level 1 qualified coaches to lead activity unsupervised. However, session plans must be designed and signed off by level 2 coaches. In addition, this allowance only applies to level 1 coaches who achieved their qualification AFTER OCTOBER 2016. For coaches who achieved their qualification before this date, they may only act in an assistant coach capacity.

Indoor environments are not shown on the graphics below but they are allowed in accordance with the maximum group sizes for each session type (and qualification level) described. Coaches must be qualified to deliver the activity they are delivering (for example, for strength and conditioning indoor sessions only suitable qualified coaches should deliver this).

Where group sizes are shown in the graphics below, this does not include the coach/activator.

As outlined in section 1.2.3, the exemption for organised sport is strictly only whilst people are actively participating. The ‘rule of six’ applies before and after all sessions, indoors and outdoors. Clubs and coaches should discourage their members and participants from congregating before sessions and afterwards as well as avoid all club-led social activities.









In order to run your sessions in accordance with our guidance it is essential to read it in full. Please download the full guidance PDF


Swimming Pool Coaching Ratios and Qualifications

When planning your pool-based sessions please refer to the bove section of this guidance summary which sets out the maximum group sizes for qualified level 2 and 3 coaches. It is 16 for level 2 and diploma coaches and 20 for level 3 coaches. A level 1 coach can act as an assistant coach when directly supervised by a senior level 2 or 3 coach.

Open water - Use of venues

When planning for open water swimming, we recommend a risk assessment of venue, water and session is completed prior to club open water training/activities, considering water temperature, safety considerations (water quality, visibility, access/exit points, current, drainage, source of water and expected water conditions, man-made and natural obstacles).

The club should review the venue’s safety procedures and cover; these may have changed since you last used the venue.

You should complete a dynamic risk assessment for every visit to the venue used.

Planning the club’s entry to and exit from the water prior to swimming is vital to ensure safety and social distancing.

Any pre or post session activities must be carried out in accordance with social distancing guidance.

The club must discourage swimmers from gathering in large groups to socialise. Arrive on time at the venue, but do not arrive earlier than necessary.

The lead coach must carry out a pre-session briefing which is fit for purpose including all safety arrangements. All swimmers and staff must attend these briefings. Social distancing guidance must be adhered to.

If you place the coach team and club volunteers around the prescribed course, consider how you will communicate with each other i.e. two-way radios, mobile phone, etc.

Coaches, swimmers and parents must follow social distancing guidelines at all times.

For more detailed information on what to expect from an open water venue, please see the SH₂OUT COVID-19 Guidance for Open Water Venues.

Private Venues and Insurance: 

Where affiliated clubs that own or are permitted exclusive access to privately owned open water the club is deemed to be acting and operating as an open water venue and as such should follow the Covid-19 Venue Guidance on the SH₂OUT website. They must also follow all social distancing restrictions that are in currently in place. They are also strongly advised to undertake our open water venue accreditation scheme through SH₂OUT.

Coaching Ratios and Qualifications:

Club open water swimming sessions should only be led by a qualified British Triathlon Level 2, Level 2 Diploma or Level 3 coach (see section 2 of the downloadable PDF). If the coach completed their level 2 qualification prior to October 2011, they would need to have completed the additional British Triathlon Open Water CPD module. If the coach completed their level 2 qualification after October 2011, the British Triathlon Open Water module was included in their course/qualification.

Coaching in non-club settings:

Self-employed coaches need to be conscious that they are solely responsible for their sessions, both planning for them and delivering them. They should ensure compliance with government guidelines and use this British Triathlon guidance as a support tool.

Whilst self-employed coaches are not required to have a Covid-19 Officer, they must follow Covid-19 guidelines.

Self-employed coaches, just like coaches in club settings, should develop and maintain a specific Covid-19 Action Plan and formal risk assessment that caters for all delivery, and seeks to enact all parts of this guidance.

Further information about coaching children and young people in pools and open water swimming can be found in our swimming guidance document

Please download the full guidance PDF

Children and Young People

Special consideration should be given for children and young people under the age of 18 when planning and delivering activity in a Covid-19 Secure manner.

To help plan sessions and activity, British Triathlon has summarised the information below:

  • To ensure social distancing can be adhered to, clubs should encourage a limit of only one parent/guardian attending the session to drop off a child.
  • Where appropriate, allocate specific drop off and collection times and communicate the process for doing so, for example, entry and exit points, one-way systems, and parking provision.
  • Parents should be advised that children are to arrive changed and ready for the session to avoid the unnecessary use of changing rooms and toilets.
  • Spectating is likely to be limited at venues, if at all, so keep those attending to a minimum and encourage only one parent/guardian per child. Where multiple parents are spectating, social distancing guidelines must be adhered to.
  • The practicalities of getting under 18s to and from the poolside must be considered, particularly as the majority of facilities will be in use by other user groups. Further information including the changing room policy and changing room guidance for parents can be found here.
  • A record of all U18s parent/guardian name and contact details should be kept as part of test and trace measures to ensure they can be traced should there be a need to.
  • All coaches must hold an in-date DBS check (less than three years old) with British Triathlon. If a DBS certificate has expired or is due to expire, please visit our DBS FAQs here.
  • All clubs and coaches must operate to the coach codes of conduct found in the British Triathlon Safeguarding and Protecting Children Policy here.
  • Report any concerns you have about the welfare of an athlete to your club welfare officer, British Triathlon at or for under 18s NSPCC at 0808 800 5000 or email

Download the full guidance PDF


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