JOB PROFILE: Sports Coach
Qualifications and courses
All sports coaches must hold a qualification that has been accredited by the National Governing Body (NGB) of their chosen discipline. You can start working towards recognised qualifications at the age of 16, but must be 18 or over to work as an independent coach.
Accredited courses are available directly from the NGB, or you can undertake a college or university course. NGB qualifications are equivalent to studying for NVQs from Level 1 to 4, and no academic qualifications are required, although sometimes a First Aid certificate is essential and you will need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to work with children. NGB qualifications are usually studied on a part-time basis.
Relevant courses at college include BTEC HNC/HNDs in sports coaching or leisure studies and Foundation degrees in sports coaching are available. Typical entry requirements for these courses include 1 A level/H grade and 4 GCSEs/National 5s (C or above, or 4 or above in England). Degrees in sports science, sports coaching, health science, and sports management may improve employment prospects and degree courses usually require 2 A levels/3 H grades and 5 GCSEs/National 5s (C or above, or 4 or above in England), including English and Maths, for entry.
You could start out as an assistant coach on a voluntary basis, then take a Level 1 qualification to progress to higher levels. Coaching is also often a second career for ex-professional sportspeople.
What the work involves
Sports coaches provide specialist support, motivation and knowledge to athletes in order to help them attain their best performances and achieve personal goals.
As a competitive coach, you could work with a variety of levels of athlete, ranging from children's football or netball teams, through to professional and even world class sports professionals.
At a non-competitive level, you will focus on providing fun and accessible exercise sessions for participants with a range of abilities and fitness levels.
You will usually coach one specific sport.
Type of person suited to this work
You will need excellent communications skills. You will also need to have good motivational abilities in order to inspire and encourage sports players to push themselves.
You will need an in-depth knowledge of your chosen sport, and an understanding of nutrition and physiology is also useful.
It is also essential that you understand a variety of training methods and principles so that you can provide an informed and beneficial service to your clients. Patience and determination are also vital qualities.
You will usually work early mornings, evenings and weekends. This is when the majority of your athletes will be available.
If you are working in a seasonal sport such as cricket or football, you might have to supplement your income with another job during the quiet months.
You will spend hours on your feet, and might also have to undertake activity in order to demonstrate methods and principles to athletes.
The vast majority of sports coaches working in the UK work on a voluntary or part-time basis. Competition for full-time positions is fierce.
Career prospects will depend on the level of success you achieve in your work. If you gain credibility, you could move into a related development or management position.
You could be self-employed, work for a local authority, or in a school, gym or professional sports club.
You will be teaching the sport you love to a range of people and developing their interest in it.
You may have the opportunity to work with talented athletes.
You will have to spend long periods of time standing outside in all weather conditions.
As a newly qualified coach working for an employer, you could earn between £14,000 and £22,000, depending on experience and employer.
Experienced coaches who work for a NGB or professional association can earn between £30,000 and £35,000.
If you work at the highest level of your sport, such as coaching Premiership football players, you could earn in excess of £100,000.
Coaches working with amateur teams or individuals usually earn between £10-£20 per hour.
Content generously provided by Indigo Trotman.