Purpose of this Document
This document sets out the ECB guidelines on many aspects of the management, coaching and welfare of a junior cricket section. It should be used in conjunction with the club’s own welfare policies.
It is a basic requirement of all sessions and matches involving children that in all circumstances there will always be a minimum of two responsible adults present. Clubs should always plan accordingly and coaches must feel confident in raising concerns if they find themselves placed in a position where they have been expected to work alone and unsupervised. In matches there must always be at least 2 adults present and responsible for the team.
The ECB provides two different ratios which relate to working with children and it is vital that coaches and other key club personnel understand the distinction between these two types of ratios.
The ratios of qualified coaches to children are as follows:
• Net Coaching - 1 coach: 8 children
• Group Coaching - 1 coach : 24 children
• Hard Ball Coaching - 1 coach : 16 children
Supervision ratios relate to managing groups of children and ensuring that there are sufficient adults present to deal with any issue or incident that may arise.
The supervision ratios that must be adhered to as a minimum for clubs looking after groups of children are as follows:
• Aged 8 and under – 1 adult: 8 children
• Aged 9 and over – 1 adult: 10 children
Coaches under 18 years of age cannot be included in supervision ratios.
As part of our responsibilities in supervising children, it is vitally important to ensure that all players drink appropriate amounts of water to avoid any possible risks of dehydration during matches and practice sessions.
Coaches, Managers and Umpires are encouraged to:
• Ensure that regular intervals for drinks are arranged, particularly in matches of more than twenty over’s per innings or in hot weather.
• Plan drinks breaks in practice sessions and matches every 20-40 minutes on warm sunny days (This may sound excessive when first read, but on hot days players can need up to 2 – 3 litres each to stay fully hydrated.)
• Avoid waiting for children to say that they are thirsty before planning a drinks break as thirst is an indication of dehydration.
ECB Fielding Regulations are as follows:
• No young player in the Under 15 age group or younger shall be allowed to field closer than 8 yards (7.3 metres) from the middle stump, except behind the wicket on the off side, until the batsman has played at the ball.
• For players in the Under 13 age group and below the distance is 11yards (10metres).
• These minimum distances apply even if the player is wearing a helmet.
• Should a young player in these age groups come within the restricted distance the umpire must stop the game immediately and instruct the fielder to move back.
• In addition any young player in the Under 16 to Under 18 age groups, who has not reached the age of 18, must wear a helmet and, for boys, an abdominal protector (box) when fielding within 6 yards (5.5 metres) of the bat, except behind the wicket on the off side.
• Players should wear appropriate protective equipment whenever they are fielding in a position where they feel at risk.
In February 2000 the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) issued safety guidance on the wearing of helmets by young players up to the age of 18. In brief, the guidance recommends that:
• Helmets with a faceguard or grille should be worn when batting against a hard cricket ball in matches and in practice sessions
• Young players should regard a helmet with a faceguard as a normal item of protective equipment when batting, together with pads, gloves and, for boys, an abdominal protector (box)
• Young wicket keepers should wear a helmet with a faceguard, or a wicketkeeper face protector when standing up to the stumps.
With the assistance of schools, cricket clubs and leagues, the wearing of helmets by young players is now standard practice in cricket throughout England and Wales. Helmets are widely available and are covered by a British Standard (BS7928:1998). A face protector represents an alternative head protection system for young wicket keepers. Face protectors are, at the time of publication of this guidance, a relatively new innovation. Wicketkeeper Face Protectors are covered by a new British Standard (BS 79282:2009).
The original guidance allowed parents or guardians to give their written consent to allow a young player not to wear a helmet. However, now parental consent not to wear a helmet should not be accepted in any form of cricket.
This guidance applies to all players up to the age of 18, both in open age group cricket and in all junior cricket played with a hard cricket ball. The guidance also applies during all practice sessions. Any individual taking responsibility for players should take all reasonable steps to ensure that this guidance is followed at all times.
The ECB asks that the guidance is communicated to the parents or guardians of all young players through clubs and schools, and that young players are not allowed to bat or stand up to the stumps when keeping wicket against a hard ball without wearing appropriate protection.
4. Fast Bowling Directives
The Fast Bowling Directives are designed to raise awareness of the need to nurture and protect our young fast bowlers through their formative years, and have been warmly welcomed by a significant number of coaches and managers. Statistics clearly show that fast bowlers regularly win International matches, and if England is to achieve the vision of becoming the most successful and respected cricket nation, we must make every effort to produce bowlers to reach the goal. As coaches we should consider the welfare of the individuals under our supervision, the regulations are designed to minimise the possibility of injury.
The Directives relate to all competitions under the auspices of the ECB at Under 19 level and below as well as all Premier League matches. It should be emphasised that the age of the player is the key criteria and not the level of cricket being played. The restrictions will be reviewed annually, and the Directives have been amended slightly for the current season in relation to the number of over’s to be bowled in matches.
For the purpose of these Directives a fast bowler should be defined as a bowler to whom a wicket keeper in the same age group would in normal circumstances stand back to take the ball. These directives apply to girls and boys, and any reference to he/his should be interpreted to include she/her.
Directives for Matches:
5. Junior Players in Open Age Group Cricket
The intention of the merger of previous guidance documents was to clarify this area for clubs and leagues to assist them with planning and fulfilling fixtures.
As specified in the guidelines below, all clubs must recognise that they have a duty of care towards all young players aged under 18 who are representing the club. This duty of care also extends to leagues that allow the participation of young players in open age groups in their league. The duty of care should be interpreted in two ways:
• Not to place a young player in a position that involves an unreasonable risk to that young player, taking account of the circumstances of the match and the relative skills of the player.
• Not to create a situation that places members of the opposing side in a position whereby they cannot play cricket as they would normally do against adult players.
In addition the guidelines note the need for clubs and leagues to recognise the positive experience that young players should have in open age cricket and thus clubs should provide an opportunity for players to show their talents in an appropriate way. Children who are just used as fielders will not fully experience the game.
The guidelines are designed to help clubs to decide when to select young players in open age competitive cricket and how best to help their cricketing development when they play within open age groups.
• Under 12 age group players* and younger should not play in open age competitive cricket.
• Under 13 age group players* can play in open age group competitive cricket,
(i.e. players aged 12 and over) if considered by a qualified Level 2 coach or above that it is appropriate for their development.
• Under 13 years players will need prior explicit written parental consent to play as this recognises the need for parents or guardians to be aware of the significance of allowing their young child to participate in open age competitive cricket rather than purely junior cricket.
• Over 13 year old players are free to play open age cricket.
* Junior cricket age groups are set by the age of the player on the 31st August preceding the season of play.
6. Safe Hands Guidelines for Coaches Working with Children
Coaches have a vital role to play in safeguarding children in cricket and, at a club, will often become the focus for children and their activities. The ECB Coaching Philosophy states good coaching is about providing a fun and safe environment in which people, particularly children, can enjoy their first experience of cricket, gain some success and be motivated to want to go on playing. This philosophy ties into the ECB’s own core values, in particular, the “Enjoyment” value which the ECB has identified as central to the ethos of the “Safe Hands” Programme.
Coaches who work with children would be undertaking Regulated Activity for the purposes of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and, as such, the club needs to be aware of the legal obligations placed on the club as a consequence. For further details on the responsibilities for the club, please see the guidance document, ‘Responding to, Recording and Reporting concerns...’
This section of “Safe Hands” provides guidance specifically for those involved in coaching cricket and covers the following areas:
• Promoting good practice
• Poor practice
• Practical coaching guidance
• ECB Coaches Association Code of Conduct
The guidance is intended for all those involved in coaching, whether they hold coaching qualifications or not.
Promoting good practice
Child abuse and harassment can take place in many situations, from the home and school to a sporting environment. As a cricket coach you will have regular contact with children and you should adopt the highest standards of practice and be responsible for identifying those in need of protection.
As a coach they will look up to you and if a child decides to talk to you about abuse, you need to know what to do. You also need to understand your duty of care towards young cricketers, the current guidance on good practice, and the need to act responsibly when you are around children. This will protect the children you coach and reduce the potential for misunderstandings and inappropriate allegations being made. The following guidelines should help you know what to do if you are worried about a child, and demonstrate how you can create a positive culture in cricket.
Good practice means:
• Ensuring cricket is fun, enjoyable and fair play is promoted
• Treating all children equally, with respect and dignity
• Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol when coaching and being mindful of behaviour around the club at all times
• Always putting the welfare of children first, before winning or achieving goals by encouraging a constructive environment where healthy competition, skill development, fun and achievement are promoted in equal measures
• Always working in an open environment (for example, avoiding being alone with a child, and encouraging open communication with no secrets)
• Building balanced relationships based on trust, which enables children to take part in the decision-making process
• Being in line with Home Office guidelines, which state, if you are in a position of trust and authority, you must not have sexual relationships with 16-17 year olds in your care
• Not tolerating acts of aggression
• Recognising the needs and abilities of children, avoiding too much training or competition and not pushing them against their will
• Giving positive and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism
• Working to ECB guidance on physical contact, where children are always consulted and their agreement gained before any contact is made
• Keeping up-to-date with technical skills, qualifications and insurance in sport
• Ensuring if mixed sex teams are taken away, they are always accompanied by a male and female member of staff
• Ensuring while on tour, you do not enter a child’s room or invite them into your room – except in an emergency, i.e. when very unwell
• Finding out if any children you are coaching have medical conditions that could be aggravated during playing or training
• Keeping a written record any time a child is injured in your care, along with details of any treatment provided
• Promoting good sportsmanship by encouraging children to be considerate of other athletes, officials and club volunteers and by being modest in victory and gracious in defeat
• Helping the ECB to work toward eradicating harassment and abuse of children from cricket
Poor practice means you must never:
• Spend excessive amounts of time alone with children away from others
• Take or drop off a child at an event
• Take children to your home or transport them by car, where they will be alone with you
• Engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games
• Share a room with a child
• Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching or physical abuse
• Take part in, or tolerate, behaviour that frightens, embarrasses or demoralises a cricketer or affects their self esteem
• Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged
• Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun
• Make a child cry as a form of control
• Allow allegations made by a child to go unchallenged, unrecorded or ignored
• Do things of a personal nature for children or vulnerable adults that they can do for themselves
• Shower with a child
Any of these can leave you open to allegations.
Practical coaching guidance on physical contact
The following guidance is about safeguarding children as they learn to play cricket. It will also help to protect coaches from unnecessary or malicious allegations when working with children. Always conduct coaching sessions with at least one other adult present. The ECB understands physical contact between a child and an adult may be required to instruct, encourage, protect or comfort.
However, it is important to remember that in cricket today there is a multi-cultural mix of children from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, children who may be on the Child Protection Register or have previously been or are currently being abused at home. Not all children are used to, or are comfortable, with any type of touching, be it friendly or otherwise. In many cultures girls in particular are uncomfortable about any kind of touching by a stranger.
All adults must understand that this touching not only involves touching children when showing them cricket postures, but can also include responsive or pleasant actions, for example, when asking the child to carry out a task, or celebrating a win. If any child is not comfortable with physical contact it should be made clear they can make their feelings known privately to the adult. Any contact should be lead by the child and not the adult.
Physically or visually impaired children may need to be touched in order to help them understand, acquire or visualise a cricket posture.
However, it must be remembered that the guidance detailed below still applies.
In addition, adults must be appropriately dressed and professional when operating in a cricket environment with children.
Please remember children can stereotype people by their appearance.
Never touch a child inappropriately. As a responsible adult you should only use physical contact if its aim is to:
• Develop sports skills or techniques
• Treat an injury
• Prevent an injury or accident from occurring
• Meet the requirements of the sport
You should seek to explain the reason for the physical contact to the child i.e. reinforcing the teaching or coaching skill. Unless the situation is an emergency, the adult should ask the child for permission. Physical contact should always be intended to meet the child's needs NOT the adult's.
• If a child becomes injured during a coaching session and the injury requires the child to be carried to a place of treatment, always seek support from another adult before moving the child. Any first aid administered should be in the presence of another adult or in open view of others
• If the child seems uncomfortable in any way with the physical contact, stop immediately
• If the child you are working with is visually impaired, you should tell them who you are and ask their permission before you come into physical contact with them
• Never attempt to adjust the grip of a child when in the normal batting stance position
• Never find yourself in a situation where you are the only adult present around children, for example in changing rooms, showers, or on a minibus
• Where physical contact is for motivational or celebratory reasons, agree with the children, teachers or other appropriate adults that to praise good performance a ‘High Five’ or similar action will be used
• Never help children dress, for example, to put on pads, helmets, or clothing unless they request this and genuinely require assistance
• Never help children to put on an abdominal protector
• Never take on one to one coaching with a child unless another adult or parent is present
• If you need to communicate with a child for the purposes of coaching or passing on cricket information, follow SSCC’s Communication with Children Policy.
If any of the following incidents take place or are observed, you MUST report them to the Club Welfare Officer and make a written note of the event using the ECB incident reporting form and inform parents where appropriate if:
• You accidentally hurt a child
• A child seems distressed in any manner
• A child acts in a sexually inappropriate manner
• A child misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done
• Responding to disclosures, suspicions and allegations
There may be a number of reasons where a coach finds it necessary to report a concern including:
• In response to something a child has said
• In response to signs or suspicions of abuse
• In response to allegations made against a member of staff or volunteer
• In response to allegations made about a parent, carer or someone not working within cricket
• In response to bullying
• In response to a breach of code of conduct/poor practice
• Observation of inappropriate behaviour
Responding to a child who tells you about abuse
You need to:
• Stay calm; do not show disgust or disbelief
• Keep an open mind
• Do not dismiss the concern, make assumptions or judgements
• Listen carefully to what is said and take the child seriously. Let the child know that if what they tell you leads you to believe they are in danger, you will have to pass the information on to someone who can protect them
• Ask questions for clarification only and at all times avoid asking questions that suggest a particular answer
• Reassure the child they have done the right thing by telling you
• Tell them what you will do next and with whom the information will be shared
• Record in writing what was said using the child’s own words. Do this as soon as possible, using the ECB incident reporting form
• Avoid approaching any alleged abuser to discuss the concern
• Report the incident to the Club Welfare Officer
Recording the incident and confidentiality
Information passed to the ECB, children’s social care, LADO and/or the police needs to be as helpful as possible, which is why it is important to make a detailed record at the time of the disclosure/concern. Use the ECB Incident Reporting Form, wherever possible.
Information needs to include the following:
• Details of the child, for example, age/date of birth, address, and gender
• Details of the facts of the allegation or observations
• A description of any visible bruising or other injuries
• The child’s account, if it can be given, regarding what has happened and how
• Witnesses to the incident(s)
• The name, address and date of birth of any alleged offender
• Any times, dates or other relevant information
• A clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay
• A signature, date and time on the report
Be very careful not to promise that you will keep the information to yourself.