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June 21, 2012

CEO Parker Posts Clarification on Coach Policy

I am writing today to attempt to clarify a few concerns and questions expressed by the membership regarding the recently announced Personal Coach Policy. First, I think it is important to understand that managing coach access in the archers' area (defined for purposes of this document as the area forward of the spectator line, to the waiting line, including the archers' tent) is not new. USA Archery has enforced access restrictions at National events, and has encouraged all the USAT events to enforce a policy at their events as well.  These restrictions were aimed at allowing coach access in the archers' area during the qualification rounds, which many coaches have requested in the past, while still allowing one coach per archer access to the archers' area during the elimination rounds.

Question #1 - Why was this policy developed?

USA Archery was receiving feedback from our coach membership that they needed to gain access to the archers during the qualification round to provide better support to their students. The main concern with providing access to these individuals was:

  1. Managing the number of people in the archers' area. For example, as of yesterday, we have 525 archers registered for the Easton JOAD Nationals and National Target Championships. The archers' area simply cannot handle another 500 people in this area of the field. The area would be overflowing and we believe this would create a less than ideal situation for competitors. The same holds true at smaller fields where USAT Qualifier Series events are held; the field size chosen is typically commensurate with the number of expected competitors, so on a smaller field with smaller archers' areas, the same concern would arise.
  2. The other issue with providing access is managing the conduct of the coaches or support people. The majority of coaches understand the rules of the event and are appropriate while having discussions with their archers, but when contemplating access to potentially over 500 coaches and/or support people (which can be anyone from a parent to a friend to a significant other), there can be dramatic differences in personal conduct and knowledge of archery and safety.
  3. The third issue that has been a concern is access to athletes who do not wish to be coached, by coaches who are providing unsolicited "assistance. " When access is considered, USA Archery works to  try to "protect" the athletes - this includes protection from the distraction of a coach who gained access to the area to "coach" them uninvited. We believe it should be the athlete's right to be left in peace in the shooting area if that is what they choose.

With the new policy, which extended access to the archers' area during the qualification round for personal coaches, we tried to address these three major concerns.

  1. The charge of $20 per coach was determined to not be overly expensive compared to many international events which can range from $50-$150, but was significant enough to hopefully keep the number of people within the archers' area manageable for both the archers sharing this space and the organizers who have to plan for seating and safe walking areas around equipment. As the line between spectators and archers is very close and very accessible, if there is not a need to actually be behind the archer while on the shooting line, then for the management of the event, it would be better to encourage coaches and support individuals to be in the spectator area. However, in trying to be responsive to parents and coaches who feel their athletes need additional support during national events, we felt that we could implement this policy to allow coaches who could not previously do so, to gain access to their archers during qualifications. We felt that this addressed concerns from coaches and parents of the newest and least experienced archers who may need extra support, as well as requests from coaches of more experienced and/or highly competitive archers who may still need support.
  2. Two years ago, USA Archery released a Code of Conduct. This can be found on the website and generally addresses the expectations of behavior for all parties involved in USA Archery programs and events. We feel that it is important for all coaches that enter the archers' area to be aware of and abide by the USAA Code of Conduct in order to manage the atmosphere of the archers' area and be sure to provide a good environment for the competitors. In order to be bound by this, coaches need to be members when becoming accredited at events, and must agree to the Code of Conduct. In this way, the coaches then become responsible for their behavior while in this archers' area. In addition, by requiring membership at all national events, individuals are also covered by USA Archery insurance.
  3. The purpose of having the athlete request the coach was to ensure that we were not just providing access for anyone to walk the shooting line and provide unsolicited coaching advice to any archer. This is a distraction that we felt we needed to try to limit. By allowing the archer to provide the name, we are supporting that archer with their needs, while again trying to limit the number of people within the archers' area. A coach can coach as many individuals as they have requests from.

Question #2 - Do coaches have to pay $20 per athlete?

NO. The coach only needs to pay a one-time fee of $20 per event. This will provide them access to the archers' area during the qualification rounds. The coach can then provide coaching to all of the athletes that designate that coach as their personal coach.

Question #3 - What if I don't need to access to my athletes during the qualification rounds, but want to be behind the archer during the elimination rounds?

The point of the policy was not to change the current access for a coach to be behind the archer during elimination rounds. Because there are far fewer athletes and coaches in the archers' area during the elimination rounds, the issue of crowded space is eliminated. Therefore WE WILL NOT CHARGE A FEE FOR ACCESS DURING THE ELIMINATION ROUNDS, as over-crowding has not been an issue to date.

I realize this was not explained or outlined well on the initial release of the policy. I have added language to the policy to better clarify this. However, we still require that those coaches who will be in the elimination round area obtain a credential and will still require that they are requested by the athletes as points two and three above outline.

 Question #4 - How will the process work? Where and when do I obtain this accreditation?

During check-in at registration there will be a sign up sheet for all registered archers. The archer can provide the name of their coach at that time. Coaches can then at any point after that, go to registration, pay the fee (if access is during the qualification round) and obtain the accreditation. USA Archery will check membership status. If you are not a current member, you will be able to purchase membership on site. After the qualification rounds end, coaches can still obtain an accreditation from the registration tent and will not be charged for this accreditation during the elimination rounds of competition.

The Personal Coach credential is non-transferable. If a coach leaves an event and is replaced by another coach, the steps outlined above will need to be followed for any replacement coach.

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