The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

“Build the foundation. Create champions. Inspire the nation.” Although Gymnastics Canada’s (GymCan) mission statement refers to the sport of gymnastics, it could also describe their new project with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) to create a True Sport e-learning course for coaches.

What is True Sport?

If you’re involved in community sport, there is a good chance you’ve seen a True Sport banner hanging in a gymnasium or on the wall at a sport facility. But what are those eye catching banners all about?

True Sport defines Canada’s commitment to values-based and principle-driven sport. True Sport is based on the values of fairness, excellence, inclusion and fun; and driven by the seven True Sport Principles: Go For It, Play Fair, Respect Others, Keep It Fun, Stay Healthy, Include Everyone and Give Back. These values and principles were developed in consultation with Canadians who identified the potential of sport to instill character, strengthen community and increase opportunity for excellence, but who felt the sport system was falling short. Led by the CCES, True Sport is designed to give people, communities and organizations the means by which to leverage the benefits of good sport from a platform of shared values and principles.

Putting the True Sport Principles into practice

Over the last few years, GymCan has been building the True Sport Principles into the foundation of their sport. The organization believes embedding values and principles into the practice of gymnastics will help create champions, not only in the sense of medals, but in the sense of individuals that lead productive and positive lives and contribute to society.

GymCan’s True Sport journey began in June 2018 at a True Sport event at Queen’s University. Staff were deeply inspired by stories about the power of good sport to positively influence a wide range of societal goals, including child and youth development, crime prevention, education, social inclusion and economic and environmental sustainability (for more information see the What Sport Can Do: True Sport Report). In October 2018, at The Values Proposition Symposium: Building a Stronger Canada Through Values-Based Sport, participants were challenged to assess their current engagement with values-based sport, and to make a commitment to advance it within their sphere of influence. GymCan answered the challenge with a commitment to incorporating and activating the True Sport Principles within their coach education program.

To support action, a survey of members and stakeholders was launched to gauge how the organization’s values aligned with the True Sport Principles, and determine the viability of developing a strategy to incorporate more True Sport training for coaches, athletes and key leaders at the national level. Stakeholders were extremely engaged by the survey and results were positive and powerful.

  • 79% of respondents felt that GymCan’s values align with the True Sport Principles.
  • 100% felt adding the True Sport Principles to the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) courses is an effective strategy to provide coaches with the education and training they require in order to provide athletes with a quality sport experience.

Respondents expressed a clear desire to incorporate the True Sport Principles in every facet of GymCan’s work.

“I think it’s an excellent idea (adding the True Sport principles into the NCCP). It would help ensure gymnastics coaches from across Canada are promoting the same values. It’s a good way to help shift the culture of gymnasts in Canada to something more positive and inclusive. True Sport values are applicable to all levels of gymnastics from recreation levels to high performance.”

“Adding the True Sport Principles to the NCCP courses is one component of ensuring coaches provide athletes with a quality sport experience. Class planning and coaching with these principles in mind will allow for a positive experience for participants.”

GymCan staff at a True Sport Activation Workshop
GymCan staff at a True Sport Activation Workshop

New GymCan e-Learning course for coaches

The first concrete result of the journey is an online learning course for coaches that launched September 23, 2020. The Values-Based Coaching Module introduces gymnastics coaches to the values and principles of True Sport, expands their understanding of the connections between values-based sport and GymCan’s Safe Sport Framework and long-term development model, and provides practical exercises to help coaches implement key learnings in real-life situations. Throughout the module, coaches are provided with True Sport information, activities, ideas and tools to help them deliver values-based programming. This course also highlights how coaching through a True Sport lens will help ensure a positive and enriching gymnastics experience for all. Gymnastics coaches who complete the course will develop the skills and confidence necessary to create the fair, safe, inclusive environment participants need in order to experience all the benefits of good sport. They will also receive three Professional Development Points towards maintenance of their NCCP certification.  

A Slide from the Values-Based Coaching Module
A Slide from the Values-Based Coaching Module

Next steps

The Values-Based Coaching Module is a big step, but it is just the beginning. GymCan is fully committed to a values-based and principle-driven approach and will continue to seek out opportunities and methods to incorporate the True Sport Principles in their organization and sport. Through the collaboration, GymCan and the True Sport team hope to inspire other national sport organizations, and the nation, to think about intentionally integrating True Sport into sport at all levels.

To access the Values-Based Coaching Module click here.

If you would like to discuss how to activate True Sport in your sport organization, contact the CCES True Sport team at info@truesport.ca.


About the Author(s)

Gymnastics Canada

First established in 1969, GymCan has been supporting the mastery of movement in Canada for five decades as the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics in Canada. They work closely with 12 provincial federations and 700 local clubs to provide a broad range of programs and services to meet the needs of all participants. From athlete development, to coach and judge education, GymCan sets the operating standards and practices for the sport in Canada. Their mandate is to promote and provide positive and diverse gymnastics experiences through the delivery of quality and safe gymnastics programming. Visit www.gymcan.org for more information, or follow @gymcan1.

True Sport

The True Sport Principles define Canada’s commitment to values-based and principle-driven sport.  True Sport is an initiative of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and is designed to give people, communities and organizations the means by which to leverage the many benefits of good sport from a platform of shared values and principles. Learn more at www.truesport.ca