What Qualifications Do Sports Coaches Need?

Ever wondered what qualifications you need to be a sports coach? This all depends on the National Governing Body of each sport. They can range from Level 1 Coaching Courses to Level 4 International qualifications and beyond.

Coaching courses can cost a lot of money and can take time to compete. We have used our 16 years in experience in sport and education to discuss what we think potential coaches need to know before completing a coaching qualification and how to best prepare beforehand.

In this post, we explain:

  • What a national governing body is
  • What qualifications you need to be a sports coach in the UK
  • UK Coaching Recommendations
  • How you can find coaching courses
  • Examples of different sport coach qualifications

What is a National Governing Body?

A National Governing Body (NGB) is responsible for managing a specific sport, from league tables to the rules of the game. Another part of a NGB is setting out the expectations and requirements for coaching qualifications for each sport. In England, the NGB for football is the FA (Football Association) and rugby is the RFU (Rugby Football Union). Sports coaching qualifications are also developed by the United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) and are national recognised qualifications by many NGBs.

Below are examples of some of the major NGB’s in the UK:

  • Rugby Union – Rugby Football Union (RFU)
  • Rugby League – Rugby Football League
  • Athletes – UK Athletics
  • Basketball – British Basketball Federation
  • Cricket – England & Wales Cricket Board/Cricket Ireland/Cricket Wales
  • Cycling – British Cycling
  • Gymnastics – British Gymnastics
  • Tennis – Lawn Tennis Association

In the UK, most sports also have specific country NGBs. For example in Basketball, the British Basketball Federation is responsible for the UK sport however this is also broken down into Basketball Association of Wales, Basketball England, Basketball Scotland and Basketball NI.

There are hundreds of different NGBs within the UK. Having working with a number of NGBs over the years, they will be happy to provide further information about the sports coaching qualifications in the sport.

What qualifications do Sports Coaches need?

Most people start by achieving a Level 1 coaching course from the NGB in their chosen sport. For some NGBs, this will enable you to become a coaching assistant under the direct supervision of a qualified teacher or a level 2 sports coach. After time, you will gain experience to be able to plan and lead successful coaching sessions and gain the skills needed to complete further qualification. This is more and likely to be a Level 2 Coaching Qualification.

Coaching courses for different sports vary in price and time to complete the course. The total qualification time to achieve a Level 1 in Football Coaching with the FA is 43 hours and costs vary with the average price being £120-£180.

However, if you want to coach on your own then a level 2 coaching course is essential (for most if not all NGBs). Should you want to work in a school or with young children there are more requirements needed.

The Level 2 in Football Coaching course with the FA can vary between £450-£550 and the total qualification time is 145 hours. There are a number of requisites before you can apply to study the course. You can find out more here.

UK Coaching Recommendations

UK coaching suggests five recommendations to coach in a school or with young children. From experience, having all of the below recommendations will place you in a far better position.

  • You have to be aged 18 or above to get paid to coach in schools or with young children. It may be possible to complete a Level 1 qualification and work as a coaching assistant from the age of 16, subject to the rules of the individual NGB.
  • Most NGBs if not all, provide a Level 1 coaching course as an entry level however to coach in a school, UKCoaching suggest a UKCC Level 2 or equivalent.
  • Check that you are insured or the company/provider has insurance before carrying out any activities
  • Understand the schools policy and procedures
  • An enhanced DBS check (you may need to pay £13 a year).  Employers can check the criminal record of someone applying for a role and this is through a DBS check.

Read here for more information about qualification and skills from UKCoaching

How to Complete and Pass A Sports Coaching Course?

Coaching courses have developed over the years and the standard needed to pass a coaching course has also increased. With the introduction of UKCC qualifications, we recommended that you gain some experience in sports coaching before you fork out money and time to complete one. We have previously wrote about how to become a sports coach and one way of gaining experience is by volunteering.

We also recommend that you speak to other sports coaches about what qualification they have studied and what they think makes a good coach.

Want to find out more?

UKCoaching have created a document with further information on qualifications in sport. Find more here.

It is advised that you check with your NGB and your employer that you are covered before taking on any coaching activities.

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New to sports coaching? Then you may want to check out our guide to sports coaching. Here you will be able to learn techniques and strategies that will excel your coaching career. Topics include Stages of LearningMethods of Training and Leadership Styles.

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