How do you become a sports coach?

Being a sports coach is something that appeals to a lot of people. The thought of actually becoming a sports coach however puts a lot of people off. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Becoming most things becomes a lot easier when you have someone explain to you how to do it.

The first part of becoming a sports coach is you making a commitment to yourself, to the people you will support, and your chosen sport(s) that you will become a coach and become the best coach that you can be. Remember, when it comes to sport “Winners never quit and quitters never win”.

Once you have made that true commitment to yourself, those you will support, and your chosen sport(s) then you can start to explore the finder details of how to become a sports coach. Let’s explore some of those aspects now.

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Choose a sport you are (or can be) passionate about

It might seem obvious and you might think it would be a natural decision for people, but you have to choose a sport that you are passionate about. Passion, and spirit, are hugely key components of sport. Enthusiasm tends to breed enthusiasm.

You should want, because you need, your enthusiasm to be infectious. If you can’t convince people to try the sport you are talking about it’s going to be very difficult for you to convince someone to keep coming to sessions, especially the ones you coach, if you don’t bring a positive and engaging vibe and atmosphere to them.

You don’t have to be the best motivator in the world from day one. But you should be able to see yourself being able to become that motivator in a few months and years time with some training and experience.

You don’t have to be good at the sport you choose

This is vital, and often over looked. You do not have to be good at your chosen sport to become a sports coach. That’s not what coaching is about. That is what playing is about. That doesn’t mean to say that being good at the sport you chose won’t help you, because it absolutely will.

But coaching is about being able to help others find the best of their abilities. Their are lots of ways you can coach someone, help, and support someone to realise their potential. Being able to practically demonstrate how to perform skills and techniques probably isn’t even a top 10 requirement of being a sports coach.

Get a coaching qualification in that sport

So, you’ve chosen the sport you want to become a coach in. Now you have to get qualified. Not only will becoming qualified give you a solid foundation to coach from. But it also demonstrates the same work ethic that you want your athletes to have. i.e. ‘Here is a challenge, I need to overcome it.’

Not only will coaching give you some skills and knowledge to become a better coach. But it essentially gives you a license; much like a driver’s license. Being a coach is a huge responsibility. People’s physical, mental, and emotional health and safety becomes your responsibility. Getting your qualification is a way of confirming that you have the competency required to guide your athletes.

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Get membership to an association

Once you have become qualified the next thing you will want to, and probably need to, do is become a licensed member of your sports governing body. This will allow you access to various support and information.

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Get insurance in case of an accident

Once you’ve become qualified and become a member of the governing body you need to make sure that you have the appropriate insurance to deliver the sessions that you intend to. There is every chance that at some point someone, including yourself, will have an accident. Accidents happen, they are a part of sport, but to make sure that people are covered in the event of an accident it is important to have insurance in place to cover and costs that might arise.

Develop your style

Coaching has evolved a lot over the years. There are a whole range of identified styles of coaching. The best advice is to be yourself. But also, recognise that you will likely need to evolve and adapt and that the ‘you’ that you are when you start coaching will probably be different to the ‘you’ you are when you finish coaching.

A basic place to start would be to establish what type of coach you think you are; autocratic, democratic, or laissez-faire. Just by doing this simple exercise you will be able to establish your identity as a coach and have a foundation from which to build.

Develop your skill set

Coaching is mostly about planning, organising, delivering, analysing, and communicating. So, to begin with if, you know you could be better at one of these things then find a way to start working on how to improve it. Naturally, the list of skills that a coach can have is endless, so research, research, research and learn as much as you can about things that will help you improve your skillset.

Play to your strengths, but work on your weaknesses.

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Apply to work in a coaching role

To begin with you might not get paid. But if you are coaching just for the money then the truth is coaching probably isn’t for you anyway. But if you can’t get a paid position then volunteer. It may lead to future paid coaching opportunities.

Remember, getting a coaching position is a competition in itself. It’s basically a sport that you need to win. But if you aren’t coaching you are going to struggle to get better at it. This is why volunteering to begin with is a great way to start if you can’t secure a paid coaching position.

Star your own sports coaching business

You could always start your own coaching business. If your situation allows you to and you have the right qualifications, insurance, and policies in place there is no reason why you can’t set up your own sports coaching business and create your own opportunity to coach.

Commit to learning and training

This is taking the developing your skillset section a little bit further. Studying and researching are great. But, you could also look to gain further coaching qualifications and get experience from elsewhere.

Good coaching is good coaching. Good coaches are versatile and adaptable. There are lots of areas that sports coaching covers these days; nutrition, psychology, strength and conditioning, skills, and even media training. So, maybe you want to specialise in one of these areas. Or maybe you want to have skills in lots of areas. The choice is yours. But just remember there is more to being a coach than just being qualified to coach your sport.

Practise reflective coaching

Good coaches reflect. They reflect on the performance of their athletes and they reflect on their own performance. When done well this allows them to analyse performances and look at ways that they could have done things differently and potentially do things better next time. If you want to be a good coach become a coach that reflects.

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Continually evolve with your community

Finally, any coach is a member of a community; be it your team, your club, your neighbourhood, your city, or even your country. So, it’s important that coaches engage with their communities. Because you need them and they need you. It’s also important that coaches learn to evolve with the needs of their community. There are lots of things that need to be in place in order for a sports club to exist and provide everyone with the opportunity to participate in sport.

If your community needs something that isn’t directly related to the sport you coach, maybe you can still find a way to help them.


Born in Wolverhampton. Raised in Wolverhampton and Exmouth. Educated in Wolverhampton, Exmouth, and Kingston. Living in Exeter.

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