Starting September 1, 2021, USA Swimming, its Zones, LSCs and member clubs are required to implement the updated Minor Athlete Abuse Protection Policy (MAAPP) in full. This resource is intended to provide information to the Massages, Rubdowns and Athletic Training Modalities section of the policy.

Massages, Rubdowns and Athletic Training Modalities

Massages, rubdowns and athletic training modalities can present a risk for Adult Participants to abuse minor athletes. As a result, all massages, rubdowns and athletic training modalities performed on a minor athlete must be conducted in an observable, interruptible environment by a non-coach licensed professional and must always have a second Adult Participant present in the room.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an athletic training modality?
A: Examples of an athletic training modality includes stretching, physical manipulation, injury rehabilitation, stim treatment, dry needling, cupping, etc.

Q: Can a coach assist an athlete stretching a leg or working out a shoulder knot?
A: No. Under no circumstance is a coach permitted to perform a rubdown or massage even if the coach is a licensed massage therapist or athletic trainer.

Q: Is it permissible for a coach to use an applicator to help apply relief creams or work out a muscle? A: No. The use of instrument assisted modalities by a coach is not allowed.

Q: Does a legal guardian have to give permission for a massage therapist to work on their minor athlete? A: Yes. The legal guardian must provide advance, written consent to the licensed massage therapist or other certified professional, with a copy provided to the club, and the legal guardian can withdraw that consent at any time.

Q: Can a coach provide hands-on stroke technique guidance?
A: Yes. In doing so a coach should adhere to the following best practices:

  1. First, ask for the athlete’s permission. For example, “Is it okay if I show you where to hold your elbow?”

  2. Verbally explain what you are going to do and explain why. For example, “I’m going to hold your elbow into this position because this angle allows you to get better leverage in the water.”

  3. Educate team parents that they may at some point see you performing hands-on stroke technique guidance. Describe what this means, that you will always first ask for the athlete’s permission and will also verbally explain to the athlete what will be demonstrated. Allow the parents to opt-out of hands-on stroke technique guidance at any time.

  4. All hands-on stroke technique guidance must be performed within an observable and interruptible distance from another adult.