Coach the next generation

Have you got what it takes to be a coach?

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Express your passion and help the stars of the future achieve their own dreams, writes Robert Hicks.

Coaching children is a fantastic way to keep involved with and be a part of a sport you’ve always loved. It’s a chance to get active, express your passion and help play a positive role in other people’s involvement in sport. Coaching is a chance to give something back to a sport and the people who play it, that has over the years given you so much.

If it wasn’t for coaches, many of whom are unpaid volunteers, would you have had the same opportunities to play sport, meet people who you now perhaps call friends and had experiences and memories you will never forget? Probably not.

There are many ways to get involved in coaching: you can go and support your local club, helping assist sessions and training evenings; you can become involved with your own children’s sport; or, if you are interested in leading and managing your own team or even coaching individuals, you can sign up to courses leading to accreditation.

What do I need to become a coach? 
If you are volunteering and helping a club, group or team by assisting a coach, then you won’t need any qualifications to get started. However, it is advised that you obtain a Level 1 coaching certificate in the sport you wish to coach. While it’s not a requirement, it will certainly help develop an understanding of what is required of you.

The majority of sport clubs will request a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. DBS was formed in 2012 by merging the functions of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). It identifies those who may be unsuitable for specific work, especially that which involves children. It is illegal for anyone barred by the DBS to work, or apply to work from any category of employment from which they are barred.

If you want to coach independently, whether that’s taking control of training sessions or coaching a team, you will need a set standard level of training and qualifications. Most clubs and organisations require a Level 2 standard coaching qualification, which involves being able to construct and instruct sessions that will help develop skills.

“If it wasn’t for coaches, many of whom are unpaid volunteers, would you have had the same opportunities to play sport, meet people who you now perhaps call friends and had experiences and memories you will never forget? Probably not.”

It’s worth noting that every sport has different coaching and training qualifications and, as you progress through each level, your understanding and knowledge of the sport will deepen, and you’ll be tested on the finer details and intricacies of the sport, such as tactics, youth development and progression.

Getting started – Do I have what it takes? 
First, you must ask yourself whether you have what it takes to become a coach? After all, it’s not for everyone. Follow our coaching checklist. If you tick all the boxes, then being a coach might be the job for you:

  • Passion for sport: It’s impossible to be a coach in any sport unless you’re genuinely passionate about what you are coaching. You’re there to teach kids the fundamental skills that will help them develop. If you haven’t got the drive and enthusiasm then how are the kids expected to learn?
  • Enjoy working with children: If you don’t like kids or enjoy being around them, then becoming a coach isn’t for you.
  • Communication: You can’t be an efficient coach without being able to communicate in a simple, clear and concise manner.
  • Control and discipline: You aren’t just there to coach but to ensure they adhere to the rules and behave correctly. A good coach must be able to control their group and create an environment where children can learn.
  • Organisation: This is an important skill to have. A coach must keep on top of their equipment (e.g. Football – bags, balls, cones, bibs) as well as develop and run stimulating sessions. Groups can easily become bored if sessions are too similar and not holding their interest. As a coach you must be aware of each individual, their ability, their goals and organise each session accordingly.
  • Safety: The safety of the group is absolutely paramount. An insurance policy covers you for any accident that occurs to you or the people in your group, but it’s also down to you to ensure that each session is safe and puts you and the group at minimal risk. Whether it’s a child with an earring, not wearing shin pads or glass on the pitch, you are in charge and responsible for their wellbeing.

If you think coaching is for you, there are many charities whose vision is to drive the development of sports coaching in the UK and put coaching at the heart of sport, enabling every child, player and athlete to have fun and fulfil their potential. They run introductory workshops, give help and advice and have the local contacts you need to get involved in coaching straight away.

Robert Hicks writes for Insure4Sport a specialist sports insurance provider who provide coach and instructor cover for over 200 different sports and activities.