Social Media for Athletes, Coaches and NGBs.

In this article the aim is to cover the principles and a small amount of practical tips on the use of social media in sport.

LetsMeetinChelyabinskAt the recent world championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, the IJF and local organisers out did themselves when it came to the use of social media. The use of video streaming, websites, social networking and social media was high and had a direct impact on the success of the event.

Athletes, coaches and governing bodies can use the event as an example of the positive effects of sharing via social media.


Social media is a term used to describe the creation of “media” by individuals and shared online; especially via social networking. The difference between this and traditional media is that it is mainly about sharing by individuals rather than broadcasting by traditional means.

We share, rather than broadcast. We participate in a community rather than publish.

An easy example of of social media is this article. It is written and shared on a blog and is not published in a magazine for example. This blog is part of the wider Judo community and unlike magazines for example invites sharing and comments online.

Other examples of social media are sites like Twitter where 140 character posts are shared, instagram where photos are shared, soundcloud and podcasts where audio recordings are shared, blogs where long form test is shared and of course Youtube where videos are shared.


Social media allows the democratization of media, where anyone can share something online without the necessity of traditional publishing methods. Anyone can share their media and  equally, anyone can find the media and follow the creator.

For the creator, you are able to share with anyone. The act of sharing has the benefit of giving your thoughts public viewing. Creating the media is a creative process that is a wonderful way of crystallizing your thoughts via reflection. You also become part of a wider community and you can gain a huge amount of insight from the responses from people who reply to your posts.

As an athlete/coach or even NGB, the benefit of social media is that you can share the trials and tribulations of what you are doing. As an athlete you will have people interested in your career. Be it parents, friends, other athletes, coaches, fans or journalists. Social media allows you to share with them so they know you better and understand who you are and what you are all about. For an athlete you can develop a following, and audience, and if you are interested in ideas like crowd funding, this is vital as before you can ask people to support your campaigns you need followers/fans and social media is how you develop fans.

Social media for coaches and NGBs is important too as it is a wonderful way to share the efforts you are making. Again your fans/followers can follow you day to day struggle and get emotionally involved which leads to them supporting you when you need them. It also helps prevent negative opinions forming in the vacum. Social media allows you to share what is happening and that can help prevent people getting the wrong ideas of what is happening.

There is a perception held by some that the sharing can give away your secret edge. But the reality is that what you are doing is never a secret and the edge you have is a result of your doing not of people knowing what you are doing. There are a tiny minority of people whom I would suggest their ideas are worth keeping secret.  Sharing what you are doing does not mean people will be able to steal your idea and beat you; it’s the doing that matters. Equally, it is highly unlikely you (dear reader) are that special and unique. Whatever you are doing, others are probably doing it already and you sharing a little about what you are doing is not going to stop your success.


The benefits of social media are huge. The risks are normally NOT what you imagine. Sharing all your training online is not going to mean that other athletes can beat you. It is a common and naive worry and one you should discard today.

What is a real risk is that you damage your reputation with bad decisions on what and how you share online. I would encourage you to be true to yourself online in your social media; but that is under the caveat that you are not a bad person. Racist, sexist and rude social media content will do you  more harm than good. Of course the readers of this blof are not bad people, but it can be all too easy to say something that gets taken the wrong way.

Another bit risk is that you get embroiled in the negative views of the people online. Take a quick scan down teh comments on any youtube video and you’ll see some horrible comments. And it’s all too easy to react to it and blow your cool and get embroiled in a battle you can not win. My advice is to focus not on the critics (there will be many) and focus on your views and on the kindred spirits you will find online.

Act like anyone in the public eye, accept that there will always be people who dislike your views or even you as a person for no reason you understand. Ignore it and continue.

Obviously, the other big risk is that you share  personal information that can be taken advantage of by “bad people”. So no sharing of where you live, your home phone number, where you will be walking on a dark night.


  • Be honest
  • Be yourself
  • Share
  • Try all the different media you can, find the ones that suit you


  • Give away personal information
  • Don’t try and sell
  • Don’t lie
  • Don’t give up!


Social media for athletes is simply about sharing your journey online yourself. Share the pain and the tears, share the joy and the smiles. It is NOT about finding people to give you money. You may be able to grow a fan base and approach them for financial support, but that should NOT be why you share online. It has to be about you sharing. Social media is NOT a sales channel, a propaganda broadcast medium.

The benefits include having mediums to reflect and express yourself. Social media can act as a training diary, a postcard home.

I would invite you to start with a simple blog, just write a few words about your training today. Tell those who find it about the hardwork you are doing and let them see what you are doing. Maybe someone reading is an expert in a area you have issues and is drawn to help you. Perhaps they are a critic who goes from not liking you to being a fan as they see how hard you are working. This goes for coaches and NGBs too. If you genuinely feel you are doing good things, then share it.

Lastly, the work social is there for a reason. Social media is about sharing in a community. Join that community today, read some blogs, leave some positive comments, send some emails.

And start that by writing a comment on this article in teh comments section below or by email me your thoughts on social media (


Comments (2)

MarkSeptember 14th, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Thanks for those insightful words. You inspired me to begin writing, and I have to thank you for that.

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