Sports coaches or instructors teach sporting skills and techniques to players of all levels and ages, from novices to top professional sportsmen and sportswomen.
You could be:
- working with schools, community groups or competitive sportspeople and teams
- working with individuals or with teams, depending on the sport
- planning programmes of training to meet performance targets, combining practice on the field with watching videos of games and discussions of good play
- watching participants training, correcting their mistakes and giving advice and encouragement
- helping players train safely and, if necessary, working on recovery programmes for injured players, including working with other specialists such as physiotherapists
- fostering good team spirit among the players
- monitoring the physical and psychological condition of each player and advising on nutrition
- attending competitions
- helping to look for possible sponsorship deals.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of the company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
In a full time job you might earn £16,000 to £25,000 a year. Recent vacancies for sports coaches in Scotland have been at £9 to £16 an hour. Some self-employed coaches earn much more than this as they build up a reputation and a client group.
- Full time jobs as coaches are not always easy to get – many contracts are part time.
- You might work as an employee, be self-employed, or be an unpaid volunteer (many coaches of amateur groups and clubs are volunteers).
- Work might be seasonal, and you might have periods of unemployment.
- Evening and weekend work is common.
- You could work both indoors and outdoors in all weathers.
- You might have to travel to games and sometimes spend time away from home, possibly abroad.
Workforce Employment Status
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- There are many routes into sports coaching, both paid and voluntary. You may attend college or university to gain qualifications in the relevant sport or gain experience by working with a qualified and experienced coach.
- A National Qualification (NQ) or National Certificate (NC) in a sports subject – for some courses you need 3 subjects at National 4 or 5.
- A Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND), degree or postgraduate qualification in sports coaching and development or sports science – for entry you usually need 1-2 Highers for HNC or HND, 4-5 Highers for a degree.
- The SQA National Progression Awards (NPAs) in Sports Coaching are available at SCQF Levels 4, 5 and 6 (UKCC Levels 1, 2 and 3). These qualifications are delivered through the centres that work with sportsscotland and the Scottish Governing Body of Sport. You would be expected to have at least UKCC Level 1 as a new coach.
- A coaching award from the national governing body of the sport you wish to coach – some HNC, HND and degree courses include these awards.
You also need:
- to be very fit and have played your chosen sport at competitive level
- to know the rules of the national governing body of your chosen sport
- a first aid qualification
- to have a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
You could work in a sports centre, gymnasium, school, swimming pool, activity centre or hotel. Coaching job vacancies are also often advertised in the journals of the governing bodies.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You need to be:
- enthusiastic about your sport
- supportive, patient and encouraging
- able to analyse and solve problems
- good at listening and communicating
- observant, to give useful feedback on performance
- able to put together suitable training programmes
- willing to work unsociable hours
You need to have:
- the ability to motivate others
- specialist knowledge of theory and practice of your sport
- stamina and perseverance
- a good awareness of health and safety.
- To begin coaching you will need a specific qualification from the National or Scottish Governing Body (NGB or SGB) of your sport.
- To become a top coach or instructor you will need to gain more advanced qualifications from the national body of your sport.
- You could also take short training courses in coaching which are run by sportscotland.
- Sports Coach UK also run coaching workshops in a variety of different subjects.
- Your progress depends on your record of success.
- You would also need to keep up to date with sport related topics, for example increasing your knowledge of sports psychology and nutrition.
- You may start with seasonal work, perhaps moving to become assistant coach in a sports centre or with a sports club.
- You may move on to become a senior coach or instructor.
- You might get to coach a national team.
- You could possibly become a high performance coach, coaching at a high level and passing on skills to locally based coaches.
- All coaches must undergo continuous professional development (CPD) programmes to keep at the top of their game. sportscotland offer several CPD programmes. See their website for details.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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