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Sports coach

Sports coaches, assistants, coordinators or instructors help pupils get the most out
of sports and PE activities in schools.

They can organise and plan sporting activities and support the work of a PE teacher. Teaching assistants can also support sports in schools. 

What’s involved

A sports coach's role can cover:

  • implementing the school sport programme effectively
  • promoting physical fitness and healthy lifestyles
  • teaching students about safety in such areas as swimming pools, athletics fields, gymnasiums
  • making sure all pupils you work with are included and involved

Skills and experience you will need

School sports coaches generally need to have:

  • interest and enthusiasm for many sports
  • good spoken communication skills
  • the ability to inspire confidence and motivate performance
  • the ability to analyse problems
  • perseverance and patience
  • good organisational skills
  • a sensitive and supportive approach
  • first aid skills
  • excellent team working abilities
  • enjoy working with young people

Entry requirements

It is up to schools and local authorities (LAs) to decide what qualifications and experience applicants need to have, so it is important to check locally. Some may employ people on the basis of their experience and potential alone. Others may require a qualification. Qualifications in subjects such as coaching, sports science, sports studies, movement studies, physical education, instructing exercise and fitness, are desirable. 

If you are assisting a coach, you are unlikely to need a formal qualification to get started but a Level 1, sport-specific qualification will give you more confidence in your ability. To coach independently, you would usually be required to have a minimum standard of training - often leading to a Level 2 sports-specific coaching qualification. 

The following qualifications are available for those not yet employed in the role:

  • Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools
  • Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

However, these awards are solely theory-based, without requiring a placement in a school, so it is important to check with the school or LA whether they would accept the qualification.

Some schools also offer apprenticeships, which are work-based training programmes which lead to qualifications.

Look for vacancies here: http://schoolapprenticeships.co.uk/index.php/jobs

Find out more here: http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/be-an-apprentice.aspx

Training and development

As a sports coach in a school, you may also be interested in becoming a higher level teaching assistant.

To progress in your coaching, may wish to take a Level 3 qualification or deepen your skills in a particular area by attending a training course.

The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) run a continuing professional development programme. Visit the CIMSPA website for details.

Sports Coach UK also offer training courses.

If you need more help speak to the person at work responsible for your career development or your union learning representative.

Useful links

Youth Sports Trust: www.youthsporttrust.org

Sports Coach UK: http://www.sportscoachuk.org/

For more information in Scotland, contact Skills Development Scotland

In Northern Ireland contact Careers Service Northern Ireland

In Wales / Cymru contact Careers Wales