How to Get Into Sports Coaching – Training and Qualifications
All athletes, from beginners to the world’s biggest sporting stars, have one thing in common – they rely on coaches to help them to reach their full potential. If you’re a budding sports coach, read on to find out how you can get the training and qualifications you need at every stage of your career.
Courses and Qualifications for New Sports Coaches
You don’t need to have been a professional or elite sportsperson to get into sports coaching, although you will need to be passionate about your chosen sport and, ideally, have an in-depth knowledge of its rules and relevant training techniques. You don’t need to be a qualified P.E. teacher either.
You will, however, need to obtain a qualification that’s recognised by your chosen sport’s national governing body (NGB). The first place to start, therefore, would be to contact that organisation and see exactly what qualifications you’d need to have.
The Football Association (FA), for example, has a core coaching pathway in place. Initially, you’d need to attend a FA Safeguarding Children Workshop and the FA Emergency Aid Course. When you have gained certificates from these courses, you can register for the “Level One Certificate in Coaching Football”.
There are also FA pathways designed for those who want to specialise in areas such as goalkeeper coaching or futsal. To find out more about the FA’s courses and book places on them, contact your local branch.
One of the main awarding bodies for sports qualifications in the UK is 1st4Sport. This organisation offers more than 230 sports coaching qualifications in 39 disciplines, so whether you want to help badminton players, cricketers, cyclists, gymnasts or rugby players win trophies and medals, they have a course for you.
Young people hoping to forge a career in the industry will also find that many colleges offer relevant courses, including programmes leading to BTEC or City and Guilds qualifications. There are also plenty of universities in the UK that run sports coaching degree courses.
If you don’t think that college or university is the right option for you, you may be able to get an apprenticeship at a local sports centre or sports club. This enables you to get practical, paid experience, and many organisations also give their apprentices the chance to study for sports coaching certificates as part of the arrangement.
If this isn’t a suitable option for you (for example, because you’re an older person looking to switch careers) you could start off by contacting clubs in your area and asking if you can help out on a volunteer basis. You don’t need any specific qualifications to do this, although your sports club would check your criminal record by requesting a Disclosure and Barring (DBS) check.
You can then gain practical experience while obtaining the qualifications you need to progress. The UK’s technical sports coaching agency, Sports Coach UK, has some excellent information about this on its website. The website also includes some bite-sized training courses.
Sports Coaching – Professional Development Options
Training opportunities don’t stop when you’ve qualified either. You can usually improve your skills by taking further qualifications at a higher level. In addition to its Level 1 Award in Coaching Rugby Union, for example, 1st4Sport also offers the following courses:
- Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Rugby Union (QCF)
- Level 2 Award in Leadership through Rugby Union (QCF)
- Level 2 Award in Identifying and Responding to Signs of Concussion in Sport
- Level 3 Certificate in Coaching Rugby Union (QCF).
Most sporting bodies also offer a range of other continuing professional development (CPD) options, such as seminars and workshops. Many provide online resources too.
You may find that you need to participate in CPD in order to continue in your role. Table Tennis England’s rules, for example, require coaches to complete CPD at least once during each two-year period in order to keep their licence. The organisation offers a host of training options, however, including workshops, training camps, video analysis exercises and reading tasks.
The FA offers an extensive selection of options, including online CPD courses on subjects such as “Behavioural Management”, “Creative Attacking Play” and “Technical Principles for Young Goalkeepers”. It also runs webinars and workshops, while each county branch runs its own CPD events.
Sports Coach UK also runs a number of CPD courses and workshops focussed on topics such as inclusivity and creating engaging sports sessions for children.
Finally, if you’re more interested in the theoretical side of the subject and already have a related degree, you could take a postgraduate course. Institutions such as Staffordshire University, the University of Stirling and Cardiff Metropolitan University run Masters-level sports coaching courses.
Are you a sports coach? How did you get the role and what qualifications do you hold? Which courses or CPD options have you found to be the most useful? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook, or share your opinions in the comments section below.