Sports coach: job description

Sports coach: job description

Sports coaches/instructors help children and adults to realise their potential in a sporting discipline through the provision of instruction, advice and encouragement.
Gaining qualifications accredited by the National Governing Bodies (NGB) for your sport may be beneficial.

What do sports coaches do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Coaches are responsible for planning, organising and delivering an appropriate range of sports activities and programmes for individuals and teams.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • teaching relevant skills, tactics and techniques
  • monitoring and enhancing performance by providing tuition, encouragement and constructive feedback
  • identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • advising about health and lifestyle issues
  • developing training programmes
  • undertaking administrative tasks
  • assisting with sports promotion/development.

Typical employers of sports coaches

  • Schools
  • Colleges
  • Local authorities
  • Fitness centres
  • Sports clubs
  • Holiday camps
  • Sports national governing bodies
  • Sports councils

Competition for vacancies varies: popular sports (such as football and swimming) tend to have a greater number of jobs available than less mainstream sports (for example, basketball and lacrosse). Opportunities are advertised online, in local, regional and national newspapers including the Times Educational Supplement, publications such as Opportunities (which specialises in the public sector), Leisure Management and Leisure Week as well as their online equivalents, and vacancy lists produced by local authorities.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into coaching for both university graduates and school leavers.

There are university sports coaching courses and qualifications; in order to coach independently you will usually need a qualification approved by the national governing body of the sport. These broadly correspond to National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Levels 1-4.

A degree in sports science, sports management, recreation or leisure studies, physiology or psychology may be beneficial.

Relevant practical work experience is also essential. This can be gained via voluntary, part-time or paid employment as a coach, fitness instructor, recreation assistant or leisure or fitness centre attendant.

A specialist postgraduate qualification (for example, an MSc in coaching studies) can be useful – although courses are often aimed at those with substantial coaching experience.

To find out how to get into a career in this area via a school leaver route, visit the teaching and education section and the hospitality and travel section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for sports coaches

  • Physical fitness
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Teamworking skills.