Premier Education

What Qualities do you Need to Become a Sports Coach?

You’ll never forget a good sports coach.

As a role that contributes to the health and wellbeing of young people, it is a highly rewarding career choice with many opportunities for professional growth and development.

Sports coaches benefit from a broad range of qualities and passion in abundance. These qualities include:

Here at Premier Education, coaches will have some of these qualities when they start working for us but we ensure there are plenty of opportunities to develop these important skills along the way.

The sports coach’s role

The job of the sports coach is to help participants to realise their potential.

They are responsible for the planning, organisation and delivery of impactful physical activity  programmes which are engaging and exciting for students yet grounded in foundational principles of participation, teamwork, perseverance, resilience and growth.

Sports coaching can involve:

  • Teaching rules, skills and techniques
  • Exposing kids to a wide range of sports and physical activities
  • Keeping pupils active
  • Session planning
  • Evaluating and monitoring performance
  • Providing feedback with positivity and motivation
  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • Instilling confidence
  • Integrating cross-curricular links
  • Enhancing PE, school sport and physical activity provision and 
  • Promoting wellbeing

The role can vary depending on the setting. Sports coaches work at schools and sports clubs, for community teams and can either specialise in a particular sport or teach across the entire sporting spectrum. At Premier Education, coaches teach across 40 different sports and activities.

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There are plenty of ways to get into coaching, with apprenticeships, college courses and university degrees – all providing suitable qualifications and opportunities. There are also volunteering opportunities to gain experience or develop sports skills.

The UK Coaching website has useful information about entering the profession, however, Premier Education can help you get into the profession no matter what stage you are at. Find out more about becoming a coach at Premier Education.

Essential qualities to be a great sports coach

Anchor Point: good-communication

Good communication skills

Many coaches have fantastic people skills and there’s a good reason for that.

When coaching, a coach needs to dial up or down their language or delivery depending on the needs, moods or attention spans amongst participants. Some children may feel frustrated, others may be experiencing problems in their personal life. A coach will be able to tailor communications to suit the situation.

Through both verbal and non-verbal communication, such as body language, coaches must communicate effectively, remaining approachable and supportive throughout their delivery. 

This will enable a coach to ascertain the needs and ambitions of learners, relay information, and provide constructive feedback where required. These are essential coaching skills, along with patience and a positive outlook.

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Anchor Point: leadership-skills

Excellent leadership skills

Through effective communication, a coach will assume a natural leadership role.

A good leader will also be consistent, professional and approachable. They will be a calm yet authoritative presence, a pragmatic thinker, and able to assist and problem-solve.

They will be respectful and inclusive and set a good example; in summary, an excellent role model who looks out for everyone in their care.

Anchor Point: great-organisation

Great organisation

Sessions should be planned and organised in advance, with equipment checked and ready for action.

Good coaches will put a great deal of energy into preparation, making sure that the session is clearly defined and well structured, with equipment in good condition for use.

If a session needs to be moved to a new location (such as if there is poor weather or overbooked sports fields), a coach should prepare for the change of environment and plan accordingly.

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Anchor Point: motivational-skills

Motivational skills

A successful coach understands that a positive attitude and enthusiasm for sports will give them the ability to motivate and inspire students.

It’s important to find a balance between encouragement and skills development instruction that will help learners to believe in themselves and to give everything their best, even if it’s something new or unfamiliar.

It’s also about leading by example. A coach who gets stuck in, excites kids and brings demonstrations to life will be more effective than a static coach blowing a whistle from the sidelines.

Above all, being a motivational coach involves demonstrating the joy in movement and the fun to be had in all forms of physical activity.

Anchor Point: keen-listening

A keen listening ear

Part of the coaching process is adapting communication to get the best from learners. As well as being a good communicator, a good coach will also have excellent listening skills.

Sharp listening skills will help a good coach to identify if a child needs additional support, or if they need to modify the lesson to suit the class. They will be able to show empathy and, as a result, learners will feel listened to and understood, which can help to promote good relationships between teachers and students.

By listening keenly a great coach will form positive relationships and be sure to inspire the best in their sessions.

Anchor Point: knowledge-of-students

Knowledge of students

Every child is different.

One child may love physical education while another needs more encouragement. Some students may have a serious desire to progress in sports whereas others are happy just to have a break from the classroom!

An excellent coach will take account of the diversity of their students. They will know each child’s strengths and weaknesses, areas of interest and potential for growth. A good sports coach will tailor PE lessons to the needs of everyone in the class, making them inclusive and fun, getting the best out of everyone.

The same goes for equipment or space at a coach’s disposal. A coach can adapt a coaching session to suit the available resources and environment.

Schools appreciate having a coach with that level of knowledge and would expect a good sports coach to be able to give feedback on individual students when prompted.

Anchor Point: commitment-to-learning

Commitment to ongoing learning

A good coach may know a lot about sports but a great coach will be committed to ongoing development and the learning of new training techniques.

It doesn’t matter what stage in your coaching career, ongoing professional practice will help a sports coach stay on top of the latest industry developments, sector-specific research, and news coming from national governing bodies.

Any reputable coaching qualification will provide excellent foundations in coach education, but they may wish to explore other areas of their role, taking more extended courses in behaviour management or leadership.

Undertaking regular CPD is an important part of career progression. Coaches should sign up for  training courses every few months to refresh their knowledge.

What Qualities do you Need to Become a Sports Coach

Speak with other coaches or your employer to identify suitable training programmes. Don’t be afraid to assess your own performance and identify areas for growth.

Anchor Point: passion-and-enthusiasm

Passion, energy and enthusiasm

A positive attitude is essential in sports coaching.

Not only that, it’s infectious – so a coach who comes to sessions with energy and enthusiasm is more likely to engage those taking part, inspiring them to give it their all.

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Anchor Point: integrated-thinking

Integrated thinking

Good coaches won’t see their role in isolation.

Whether it’s working alongside apprentices or support staff, school leaders or parents, a good coach will understand that they’re part of a team. If a coach is able to work well with others in the school community they will be more effective at their job and take a holistic view of the children they teach. This is where good listening and communication come back into play.

The same goes for forging links with sports organisations, a local sports club, community groups, fitness centres, or a national governing body. These connections may enable a coach to offer outreach opportunities to students, such as sports events, tournaments, matches or sporting activities. Plus, a good relationship with the local authorities is vital.

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Anchor Point: safety-training

Safety training and awareness

It goes without saying that when you work with children, safety is incredibly important. A safe environment must be created with strict safety requirements and protocols followed.

Here at Premier Education our coaches not only undergo a full DBS check but training includes paediatric first aid, safeguarding, infection prevention, mitigation and management, food hygiene (for activities where food is involved), Covid-awareness and equality and diversity.

Extra training is provided for coaches working with children with additional needs or disabilities.

The health and safety requirements change with each setting or class of children a coach works with, so they must be alert, responsible and adaptable.

Become a sports coach

There’s no doubt that sports coaching is a hugely rewarding career.

At Premier Education we have a network of over 1,000 dedicated activity coaches who deliver physical education and activity sessions in thousands of schools across the country. Their professional standards, their expertise and their ability to build meaningful relationships with schools and students make them a valuable part of the delivery of PE, school sport and physical activity.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a coach? Find out more about becoming a coach with the UK’s no.1 provider of sport and physical activity to primary schools.