Sports Code of Conduct for Players, Coaches and Parents

3 Jun 2022
Author: Andrea Twaddle

With winter sports starting, sport organisations are wise to review and update their Code of Conduct. Sport New Zealand recommends that Codes of Conduct should set out expected behaviours for all involved – players, coaches, officials and parents.

Done well, sport has the power to unify a wide range of people with a shared interest in the sport and enjoyment in participation. Ideally, this will be in a safe, respectful and inclusive environment. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and unacceptable behaviour is occurring within games and on the sideline, particularly in youth sport. 

A Code of Conduct is intended to include expectations about the acceptable behaviour for all involved. This can include different behaviours for specific groups, e.g. parents leading by example and being supportive and patient with referee decisions, even where these are not agreed with.

Once in place, a Code of Conduct should be circulated to parents and sports participants. It should be easily accessible and well known. It can be emailed with confirmation of player registration. Displaying a copy at the local club, or on the club website or social media can also help to raise awareness of the Code and its content. Team meetings at the start of the season should include a discussion about the Code and expectations of all involved.

In combating unacceptable behaviour, and its impact of deterring participation in sport, encouraging a collaborative, proactive approach is wise. This may include asking parents, whanau, volunteers and coaches to call out inappropriate behaviours, where it is safe to do so, and where participants have the skill to do so in a way that doesn’t escalate an unsafe situation. Rewarding good sportsmanship and positive behaviour, and making behaviour of concern easily able to be raised are helpful ways to minimise the risk of harm in sport. 

Sport New Zealand has a commitment to safeguarding people involved in play, active recreation and support. It has a template Code of Conduct Policy available online that sports organisations can download, adapt/tailor and use. [1] 

For advice in relation to sports law matters, contact DTI Lawyers Director, Andrea Twaddle on 07 282 0174 or


[1] policy-1-code-of-conduct-4_6.pdf (

Sports Code of Conduct for Players, Coaches and Parents
About the Author
Andrea Twaddle
Andrea is an experienced specialist employment lawyer and Director at DTI Lawyers. She advises on contentious and non-contentious employment law issues, including privacy, and health and safety matters. Andrea is AWI-CH qualified, and undertakes complex workplace investigations. She is a member of the national Law Society Employment Law Reform Committee, a former Council Member at the WBOP District Branch of the Law Society, and Coordinator of the WBOP Employment Law Committee. Andrea is a sought-after commentator and speaker on employment law issues at client and industry seminars. She provides specialist, strategic advice to other lawyers, professional advisors and leadership teams. You can contact Andrea at