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Sports Coach

Sports Coach

Tell me about it
Sports coaches work with people taking part in sport and exercise. At any level, coaches help people learn the skills they need to participate safely and to the best of their ability, advising them where and how to improve further, and motivating them to achieve their goals. Some coaches work in exercise and fitness, others in team sports or with individual competitors.

Coaches working with top-level competitors have to ensure that they are in peak condition for their competition, often working with others such as nutritionists and physiotherapists. They may use video and computerised technology to analyse strengths and weaknesses. They may also look after administration, transport and accommodation. In amateur sport or exercise, coaches usually have people of different abilities in a group. They make sure everyone can participate and improve.
Some coaches become personal trainers, giving detailed information to individual clients on exercise, nutrition and lifestyle.

Entry level
The national governing bodies (NGB) often provide part- or full-time courses in their own sports areas.  For example, bodies such as the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) and the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) offer courses for coaches and provide official recognition and registration.  There is some higher education provision with higher national diploma (HND) courses and foundation degrees in leisure studies, and more especially degree courses in PE, movement studies, sports science or coaching.
The UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC) endorses many NGB qualifications, giving you a nationally recognised qualification and also a progressive development pathway. There are currently 25 sports with UKCC endorsement. Each sport's programme varies, depending on the nature of the sport. 

If you are helping out at a club or group, assisting a coach, you do not need any formal qualification to get started. A level 1, sport-specific qualification is, however, advisable. Your club or group may also require you to have knowledge of first aid and safeguarding children as well as a CRB check. Your club should be able to guide you.

Coaches in professional sport are often ex-professional sportspeople who have gained coaching qualifications. Others have helped out with children's sports clubs.

Making the grade
Generally, coaching qualifications begin at level 1 and go up to level 4. 

If you want to coach independently, clubs and governing bodies of sport usually require you to have a minimum standard of training - often leading to a level 2 sports-specific coaching qualification. Most will assist on guiding you to obtain this. 

You could develop your coaching by taking a level 3 qualification or by deepening your skills in a particular area (such as coaching disabled sports people).

Sports Coach UK offers personal development courses for coaches from all sports and at every level of experience, to help develop your knowledge and skills.

Personal qualities
As a sports coach, you would need a good level of physical fitness, detailed knowledge of and enthusiasm for your particular sport, and excellent communication and listening skills.

You would have to be a good motivator, skilled at analysing problems, with an awareness of nutrition and how the body works.

Looking ahead
Full-time coaching jobs are scarce, and competition is fierce. Of an estimated half a million sports coaches in the UK, 80% are volunteers. Some coaches operate on a part- time basis. Many are self-employed, working for several clubs or teams.

Potential employers include local authorities, private schools, professional sports clubs, sports councils and national governing bodies, sports centres and health clubs, and the armed forces.

Alternative suggestions
You might also consider training as a chiropractor, leisure services manager, osteopath, PE teacher, physiotherapist or professional sportsperson.

Take-home pay
The number of full-time, paid coaching positions is limited, with little standardisation in rates of pay. Salaries vary depending on the employer, whether the position is full- or part-time and at what level coaching is required. In professional sport, you would be likely to receive a basic salary with bonuses, depending on how much prize money is earned or how well an individual or team performs. As a full-time coach, you might expect to start on around £17,000 to £28,000. The hourly rate can depend on how many people are being coached and at what level, but usually ranges from £10 to £25. Experienced coaches working full-time may have the potential to earn up to £60,000, although those in professional soccer or tennis would anticipate considerably higher financial rewards.

Coaches usually work evenings and weekends, and early morning sessions are common. Some coaching takes place during the day, for instance in football clubs or schools. In some sports, the work is seasonal. Coaches also spend time helping their athlete prepare before competitions, and preparing training programmes.

Coaching at all levels can involve considerable travel. At the highest level, this can be international.

Sources of information
Sports Coach UK:
Sport and Recreation Alliance:
Association for Physical Education:
SkillsActive, Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure and Learning:
Sports Leaders UK:

Sport England:
Sport Scotland:
Sports Council for Northern Ireland:
Sport Wales:





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