Job descriptions and industry overviews

Sports coach: job description

29 Jan 2024, 14:59

Sports coaches/instructors help children and adults to realise their potential in a sporting discipline through the provision of instruction, advice and encouragement.

Confident sports coach standing on an athletics track with a blurred stadium in the background.

Jump to: What do sports coaches do? | Typical salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

What do sports coaches do?

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.

What are the salaries for sports coaches?

Salaries for sports coaches are around £25,000–£28,000, according to job adverts. Many positions are part time and jobs with schools will be term time only, in which case you will be paid pro rata.

Who are the typical employers of sports coaches?

  • Schools and universities
  • 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). You can find opportunities online through organisations such as UK Sport.

What qualifications do you need to be a sports coach?

SkillsActive, the sector skills council for active leisure, learning and wellbeing, sets the National Occupational Standards that form the basis of qualifications in the sector and also runs courses.

You can also study sports coaching at undergraduate or postgraduate level. If you are considering applying for postgraduate study in this area, a degree in sports science, sports management, recreation or leisure studies, physiology or psychology may be beneficial. You're also likely to need substantial relevant practical work experience, which you may have gained via voluntary, part-time or paid employment as a coach, fitness instructor, recreation assistant or leisure or fitness centre attendant.

In order to coach independently, clubs and governing bodies of sport typically require you to have a minimum standard of training. Most will help you to obtain this. Coaching qualifications begin at level 1 and go up to level 4. Some local authorities maintain registers of coaches who are approved to work in schools and may provide their own guidance on minimum standards. You can find out more about minimum standards for sports coaches, including for coaches working with children and young people, from UK Coaching.

What are the key skills for sports coaches?

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

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