Posted 25/03/2020 in Category 1

Offering a Sport Service Online

Offering a Sport Service Online


These are clearly very difficult times with the Covid-19 pandemic. The health cost is clear and growing. There is also an economic cost. The social isolation measures we are currently experiencing may be in place, to a greater or lesser degree, for up to a year as the government fights each wave of infection. For many people who offer a sport service, including those who list on our directory, it has had a dramatic effect. Whether you are a sports physio, chiropractor, osteopath or sports therapist so much of the work includes close physical proximity and touch.  It is difficult to treat a sport injury using manipulation if you are a chiropractor or do a sports massage remotely.  But it may be possible to advise on injury rehabilitation exercises, sports nutrition, sports psychology, and fitness training - including running actual fitness training classes online. It may also be possible to diagnose sports injuries online. 


Here at MySportsMap we recognise that this current situation is a challenge for our members. We just wanted to take the opportunity to discuss providing an online sport service. There may be a possibility to replace some of business that has been lost. It may also provide an additional aspect to your sports-related business when things return to normal. For example, someone who does a lot of work on sports massage may realise that there are additional opportunities through virtual sessions on prehabilitation that can continue once social distancing measures are relaxed. We have written about virtual consulting on our sister site SportingBounce (which focuses exclusively on sport psychology), and where you can find a sport psychologist online. Below we pick up and expand on some of these themes relating to the broader sport industry. So whether you are an expert in sports injury, nutrition, psychology or fitness below we discuss some of the benefits of online provision and provide some guidance. 


Regardless of the current situation offering your sport service online can be a very good way to bring clients and practitioners together who may otherwise not connect. For example, If I have a persistent knee injury and live in a rural part of Wales it makes it easier for me to access the expert in sport injuries based in Cardiff. So online provision is great for people who wish to access an expert but who may not have one in their local area, or are traveling so frequently the convenience of online support really fits in with their life. This latter point may apply in particular to professional and elite athletes. It is also great for practitioners to reach clients who may not be able to access their services because of travel or other constraints.


We have many professionals listed on our site and of course each professional governing body will have guidance on what type of support can be offered online. Some things will not be possible. We have already mentioned sports massage for example. But if online support is offered below are some brief thoughts that you may find helpful.

  • Ensure that you have electronic consent forms and ways of billing clients electronically prior to consulting. Client paperwork should be emailed and signed before the first session. Options for payment include direct BACS transfer, or an electronic system like PayPal. 
  • You should check with your professional indemnity insurance that you covered for offering support online. 
  • Make sure that you feel comfortable seeing the client virtually. It may be that for some clients based on the initial enquiry (e.g., a sports nutritionist suspects a clinical issue) it is best to refer someone for a face-to-face meeting. It may be possible to follow on an initial face-to-face meeting with online support. 
  • Set up an appropriate space for video consultations. It is important that this is quiet and you will not be disturbed during the sessions. Likewise, a private comfortable space for clients is important so please reinforce this. It is also important to think about the background – does this convey the professionalism you are after? Ensure the room is well lit as well so the client can see you clearly with the video angle suitable (i.e. the camera is not looking up your nostrils, or at the top of your head!). 
  • If you are a personal trainer or doing some rehabilitation exercises then make sure you have sufficient room - and crucially your client does too!
  • Advertise your services - including the online sport support you offer. Well that is where we come in! We invest monthly to promote our site and your services.  
  • Consider how you deal with technical difficulties. It may be possible to continue the session over the phone or alternatively reschedule.


These are some initial thoughts and one further important thing to consider is deciding which package to use. One concern is choosing a platform that delivers the required level of security that meets the privacy obligations demanded by some professional organisations (e.g., British Psychological Society). In general these organisations suggest that the consultant ensure that the network is as secure as reasonably possible and, as far as is feasible, assures privacy to clients. Of course please check with your relevant professional organisation for specific guidance. Most systems encrypt the voice into waveforms during digital transit across the internet, but of course the information is potentially vulnerable before encryption and after decryption. If we take sport psychology as an example the British Psychological Society’s guidelines note “If an end user’s computer has been compromised by any form of malware, then there will be a risk of eavesdropping, data theft and/or denial of service.” So it is important to ensure that clients are aware of this, and that the consultant takes responsibility to unsure their computer is updated and antivirus software are installed. You can find further tips to protect against malware here.


The three systems below are all popular, free, and use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bits encryption and could be used in online consulting.  

Skype

You can find out more information on Skype here, and can download it here

ZOOM

For more information on Zoom security you can click here or you can find more information on its use here.

Facetime

For more information on encryption with apple devices you can click here and find more information on Facetime here.


We hope you found this interesting. You can see the full range of services our directory offers here. And if you would like to list on the site then we would be delighted to host you and you can join here.