How to become a Sports Coach

Sports coaches teach individuals and teams how to improve the way they play and practise their sport by analysing their performances, instructing them in relevant skills, providing motivation and enhancing their capabilities.

Personal requirements of a Sports Coach

  • Thorough understanding of preferred sport
  • Good communication skills
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Enthusiastic, disciplined and dedicated
  • Flexible and innovative
  • Prepared to travel and to work long hours, evenings and weekends

Education & Training for a Sports Coach

You can work as a sports coach without formal qualifications. Each sport has its own coach qualification framework managed by the state and/or national governing body. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have a background in the specific sport and/or have qualifications in a relevant discipline. You may like to consider a VET qualification in sport coaching or sport development. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a sports coach through a traineeship in Sport Coaching. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school. Alternatively, you can become a sports coach by completing a degree in sports coaching, sport development, exercise and sports science, sport management or human movement. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry or physics are normally required. A number of institutions in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Institutions have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Sports Coach

Sports coaches may perform the following tasks:

  • observe individuals’ performances to determine the level of instruction required
  • teach techniques to help sportspeople acquire additional skills or improve existing skills
  • supervise practice sessions
  • plan training programs
  • supervise athletes’ physical development
  • organise and liaise with sports science support staff
  • arrange entries into competitions
  • plan and direct game strategy, sometimes in consultation with club officials
  • analyse the progress of games or competitions and give signals and instructions to players
  • carry out post-competition analysis of performance and evaluate strategy
  • undertake related administrative tasks such as booking venues, organising tours and budgeting
  • travel with individuals and teams to competitions
  • recruit players and other coaching staff.

Working conditions for a Sports Coach

Sports coaches operate on a professional (paid) or honorary (unpaid) basis. They usually specialise in a particular sport. The degree of personal proficiency required to coach a sport varies widely, and can include experience as a voluntary junior coach through to an elite coach of a highly commercialised sport.

Employment Opportunities for a Sports Coach

There are limited full-time positions for professional sports coaches. Coaches are employed by sporting clubs and associations, government agencies, government-funded centres (such as the Australian Institute of Sport, state, territory or regional institutes or academies of sport), holiday resorts and centres specialising in particular sports (such as horse-riding schools), swimming centres, health clubs, community institutions and educational institutions (schools and tertiary, for example). In some sports, coaches may be self-employed in a sports training centre that they own or lease. Many sports coaches also work on a voluntary basis. There are a number of sports that have coaching development officers who are responsible for coordinating the many part-time and voluntary coaches who contribute to the sport. Job opportunities depend on the number of people playing various sports, corporate sponsorship and media coverage of sporting events, the performance of Australian sporting teams and individuals and the level of community interest/involvement in these performances. Other factors include the acceptance of sports as part of a healthy lifestyle, the amount of money available to sporting clubs, the effectiveness of sports promotion, as well as the trend towards professionalism in many sports, including football, basketball, baseball, netball, hockey and soccer.

Additional Information
It is recommended that coaches become accredited. The National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS), coordinated by the Australian Sports Commission (www.ausport.gov.au), offers education, training and accreditation to coaches. NCAS training programs include components for both general coaching principles and sport-specific skills, techniques and strategies. These programs are available in more than 70 sports, providing the industry-standard qualification for coaches. Contact your national or state sporting organisation for information on how to become an accredited coach.
Related careers