Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Nine Assumptions to Foster a More Inclusive Team Environment

Assumptions and biases are common but acknowledging them is key to personal growth. As a coach, it’s important to recognize the diverse experiences and identities of your athletes and avoid making harmful assumptions. In this article, we explore nine assumptions that coaches should be aware of and provide insights from TrueSport experts Kevin Chapman and Nadia Kyba on fostering a more equitable team environment.

Assumption: Having no biases.

We all have biases, shaped by our upbringing and surroundings. It’s essential to reflect on your potential biases and understand how they influence your decision-making process.

Assumption: Coaches should be “colorblind.”

Ignoring differences based on race, gender, religion, or other identities is not an effective approach. Recognize and celebrate diversity, as it enriches the team’s experiences and perspectives.

Assumption: Boys and girls train differently.

While gender identity influences athletes’ lives, avoid falling into gender stereotypes. Treat each athlete as an individual, considering their emotions and experiences irrespective of gender.

Assumption: You can see obvious differences.

In addition to visible differences in race and gender, there are subtle distinctions that deserve acknowledgment. Athletes may have different gender identities, religious beliefs, accessibility needs, or disabilities. Be open-minded and attentive to individual needs.

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Assumption: No need to discuss gender/race/sexuality unless there’s a problem.

Avoiding uncomfortable conversations hinders growth. Encourage open dialogue, particularly on topics like race and sexuality. Addressing these issues demonstrates support and builds trust with your athletes.

Assumption: You can speak to all athletes the same way.

Remember that athletes have unique experiences even if you are aware of their identities. Be mindful of their backgrounds, traumas, and personal triggers. Adjust your approach to ensure effective communication for each individual.

Assumption: Worldwide issues don’t affect the playing field.

Recognize that global events impact athletes’ lives and emotions. Stay informed about current social issues and check in with your team members to offer support and create a safe space for discussion.

Assumption: Lack of complaints means no diversity issues.

Don’t assume that a lack of complaints indicates an absence of problems. Consider different aspects of your team’s dynamics, such as resource allocation, representation, accessibility, and cultural sensitivity.

Assumption: Athletes will come to you with issues.

Create a safe and open environment where athletes feel comfortable expressing their concerns. Establish clear communication channels and encourage athletes to approach you with any issues, ensuring their needs are met.


Q: How can I address my biases as a coach?
A: Reflect on your potential biases and actively seek opportunities to educate yourself. Engage in conversations about diversity and inclusion, and be open to learning from your athletes.

Q: How can I create a supportive environment for my team?
A: Foster open communication and encourage athletes to share their experiences and needs. Regularly check in with your team members to ensure their well-being and address any challenges they may face.

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Q: What can I do to promote inclusivity in sports?
A: Educate yourself and your team about different identities and cultures. Incorporate diversity and inclusion into team discussions, training, and activities. Lead by example and create a safe space for everyone to thrive.


In order to create a more inclusive team environment, coaches must challenge assumptions and biases. By recognizing and embracing diversity, engaging in open dialogue, and addressing individual needs, coaches can foster a supportive and equitable atmosphere. Remember, acknowledging biases and assumptions is the first step towards progress. Join us in creating a more inclusive sports culture.

About TrueSport: TrueSport, powered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, promotes positive values and life lessons derived from youth sports. It encourages athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to prioritize sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance. For more expert-driven articles and resources, visit TrueSport’s comprehensive collection.