Our guide to coaching
Alistair Stafford

Our guide to coaching

First published date October 30 2013 Amended date November 13 2013

Fancy improving your communication skills while gaining a qualification? Believe you have good team-leadership skills that could be shared with others? It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a full-time coaching career, a course that will enable you to help run your child’s sports team or just something to give your confidence a much-needed lift – there’s a coaching course to suit your level of interest.


Why bother?

Whether it be your old Sunday league football team, your children’s swimming lessons or the beginner’s golf sessions you took part in – none of those would have been possible to run without sports coaches. Some coaches will have decades of experience; others will have taken part in a short, part-time programme just to earn a qualification to allow them to help their local club. Without them though, there would be nobody there to educate and develop your children’s sporting talents, leaving the clubs unable to run.

From an individual’s point of view, taking part in a sport coaching course is also a chance for you to develop some transferable personal qualities, as having to put together assessed coaching sessions will highlight your time-management skills and ability to work under pressure, while studying in small groups will allow you to show off how you can work as part of a team. You can even tailor your coaching to a sport of interest to you, with the 1st4sport qualifications offering programmes in a wide range of sports.  


But I don’t like sport...

You don’t have to be a sports fanatic to get involved in a coaching programme. As long as you’ve got great people skills, you can help to nurture and develop others in a variety of different ways.

If you’re a good listener and a strong communicator, then you have the ideal qualities to become a life coach. A life coaching  course will enable you to help people take control of their lives better, as you’ll be setting them objectives and planning them tasks to improve their personal development. As a coach, your role could include helping the person improve their work-life balance or supporting them to boost their self-confidence. There’s no specific career route you have to take for life coaching, but many go on to study counselling at university.

An alternative way of benefiting people is through career coaching, which allows you to offer careers advice and support to people of all ages. By being able to give people support with CV writing and filling in job applications, as well as how to handle interviews, you’ll be significantly boosting their employability chances. Plus, by knowing the top tricks and tips to get a job, it may even enhance your own career prospects.


What makes a good coach?

Think you’ve got it takes to be a coach to a team or an individual? See if you still do after reading inspirational quotes from famous coaches:

‘Coaches have to watch for what they don’t want to see and listen to what they don’t want to hear’ – John Madden, former NFL player and SuperBowl winning coach.

‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’ – Bill Shankly, former Liverpool manager.

‘The hardest skill to acquire in this sport is the one where you compete all out, give it all you have, and you are still getting beat no matter what you do. When you have the killer instinct to fight through that, it is very special.’ – Eddie Reese, coach of 18-time Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Michael Phelps.


The next move

If you’re confident that you’re set for a sports coaching career, then an undergraduate degree will allow you to develop your skills and gain further qualifications. Similarly, if you feel you can benefit others with their personal or career development, further education courses in careers advice or counselling might be of interest to you.

Even if you went on to decide that coaching isn’t necessarily for you, the communication and people skills you will have acquired from any coaching course will have set you in good stead for any profession. 

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