Community Sport Coaching

Community Sport Coaching
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission)
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Dr Andrew Dawson, Centre for Exercise and Sport Science, Deakin University, and Simon Woinarski, Program Coordinator Coaching and Officiating, NSW Sport and Recreation (April 2016)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 15 February 2018
Please refer to the Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer page for
more information concerning this content.

Community Sport Coaching
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The effective delivery of community sport programs relies upon the recruitment, engagement, and ongoing development of coaches. Coaches play a central role in organising sports participants, teaching sports skills and strategies, as well as improving athlete fitness and motivation to train and compete.

Overall, the coach-athlete relationship forms a key component in a participant’s rationale for entering, and then continuing in a sport. The quality of coaching also contributes to a participant’s satisfaction with his/her sporting experience and continued performance development.

Key Messages 


Coaches have a key role in the engagement and retention of sports participants, as well as their performance development.


Education, training, and ongoing professional development of community coaches has been shown to improve their effectiveness.

Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission) has developed a Coach Workforce Survey (CWS) to help National and State sporting organisations understand the training and support needs of their coaches. 

The CWS will help sports to complete ‘Step 3:  Know Your Workforce’ when developing their coaching frameworks using the Framework Toolkit.

Please note: Access restrictions apply for the Coach Workforce Survey. If you are involved with an NSO or SSO and require assistance please email

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) captures information about paid and unpaid involvement in sport and whether this is in a playing or non-playing role.

The 2010 survey found that there were 1.6 million people, 9 per cent of the population over the age of 15 years, who were involved in at least one non-playing role in organised sport and physical activity during the previous 12 months. In addition, about one-third of non-playing participants were involved in more than one role. There are about 643,300 people who identify themselves as coaches, instructors, or teachers of sport; 370,300 men (57.5%) and 273,000  women (42.5%).  Other background statistics:

  • More than 60 per cent of coaches were engaged in junior sports programs.
  • 73 per cent of coaches served in a voluntary capacity or received only reimbursement for out-of- pocket expenses.
  • About 56 per cent of coaches had received some type of qualification relevant to their role.

Similar surveys conducted by the ABS in 2001, 2004 and 2007 show a slight downward trend over time in the overall number of non-playing sport participants, including coaches. However, the percentage of women engaged in coaching/teaching/instructing sport and physical activities rose slightly. The ABS 'Perspectives on Sport' series provides a snapshot of data from the 2007 survey for comparative purposes. This report also provides a profile by age-groups, paid or non-paid status, and time devoted to coaching.

Coaches are recognised worldwide for their valuable contribution and significant influence on the physical, psychological, and social development of sports participants; adding value to the participant's sporting experiences and outcomes. The importance of community (i.e. grassroots level) coaches has been recognised by international sport organisations such as the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE), International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASIOF) as well as national sporting organisations in Australia and in many other countries.

In recognition of the role of the community coach, the majority of national sporting organisations in Australia and their state affiliates have endeavoured to implement robust coach development systems that improve the capability of coaches to deliver quality sports programs and better individual/team performance.

Community coaching insights: How can clubs support community coaches? (PDF  - 427 KB), Australian Sports Commission (2015). Good coaches (and good coaching) will encourage greater participation in sport and a bad coach will turn them away. Despite having such a pivotal role, there may be as many as 500,000 people currently coaching in Australia who have no formal training to do their job. This paper identifies three segments within the population of community coaches: (1) happy helper – typically a parent having a child playing sport, they volunteer their time; (2) community committed – very likely a former player or a parent who has stayed on after their child has moved on, and; (3) opportunist – typically a teenager who is currently playing the sport, looking for additional skills, insight into the sport, and part-time employment. Each segment will have different training, accreditation, and club support requirements. 

The attraction, retention/transition, and nurturing process of sport development: some Australian evidence (PDF  - 831 KB), Sotiriadou K, Shilbury D and Quick S, Journal of Sport Management, Volume 22, Issue 3 (2008). Sport development stakeholders and their strategies come together to facilitate three sport development processes occurring within the Australian sport system: (a) attraction, (b) retention/transition, and (c) nurturing process. The evaluation of strategies affecting athlete performance indicates that coaches are one of the most critical success factors. Therefore, the link between the organisational structure of coaching and athlete development is inextricable. 

Making Mentors: A guide to establishing a successful mentoring program for coaches and officials (PDF  - 4.4 MB), Layton R, Australian Sports Commission (2002). Practical experience is critically important for coaches and officials undergoing training or accreditation. Linking a quality mentoring system to the accreditation process will not only improve the learning experience for the coach or official, but it will also help to motivate them and allow more experienced practitioners to share their knowledge with others in the sport. This resource has been written to help sports to develop mentoring programs for the initial and ongoing education and training of sports coaches and officials. 

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has produced a comprehensive, long-term, development plan ‘We are Football’. In this document, nine growth and development areas are targeted by the sport: football community, coaching, facilities, refereeing, administration, fan connection, competitions, player development, and national teams. FFA has adopted a holistic approach to coaching, with interconnecting and integrated pathways for development. It recognises that both formal and informal learning opportunities must be available. “Good coaching will be measured by a coach’s ability to help a player enjoy Football and fulfill their potential at whatever level that may be.” (p.37) FFA has identified four essential behaviours for all coaches:

  1. Responsible – Coaches have a responsibility to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment where players are encouraged to learn and participate without criticism.
  2. Organised – Coaches need to be organised in order to facilitate training and evaluate performance of players and themselves.
  3. Positive – Coaches who provide positive reinforcement, encouragement, instruction and leadership with less criticism, produce players with higher self-esteem and confidence, and greater enjoyment of the sport.
  4. Player Focused – Coaches who encourage player-coach interaction, intra-team cohesion, and promote opportunities for everyone will have happier players and better retention rates.

As part of their overall coach development strategy, FFA recognises that many parents will engage in coaching/teaching activities as part of their volunteer commitment to a club and their children’s sporting experience. Many of these ‘Football Helpers’ are not interested in gaining a coaching accreditation, but FFA (through their associations and clubs) must provide them with resources, support and recognition to enhance their experience and create options for a coaching pathway. It is very important that these ‘helpers’ understand and exhibit most of the essential coaching behaviours.

More information about engaging parents and recruiting/managing volunteers can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport portfolios, Engaging Parents in Sports and Volunteers in Sport.

Coaching is the segment of the sport sector workforce having the longest history of structured education and training programs. Australian sports organisations have developed successful coach training and/or recognition programs (akin to contemporary accreditation programs) from the 1950’s. Internationally, coach training philosophies and systems have evolved in Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States and many European countries.  

The value of quality trained sport coaches (PDF  - 63 KB), Institute for Sport Coaching (2010). Sport coaches play an integral role in human development as they interact with the millions of young people participating in sports ranging from recreational leagues to Olympic competitions. The ability of sports coaches to influence youth underscores the necessity to properly prepare them for the tasks and challenges they face, no matter what level of athlete(s) they coach. This ‘white paper’ examines the issues and supports the premise that coaches are a valued and essential part of the sport system. 

Position Paper: Coaching and Participation (PDF  - 1.0 MB), Sports Coach UK (2014). Sports Coach UK believes that good coaching brings more people into sport, increases their enjoyment of sport, and makes them more likely to stay involved in sport and physical activity. Fitness and enjoyment may be more important benefits than performance improvement alone; coaches can create an environment where participants can achieve their sporting goals, learn, and experience enjoyment. Current research also indicates that participants who become involved in sport are more inclined to be physically active for an extended portion of their lives. Coaches can help this process through positive interaction with their athletes, building competence and self-confidence as well as higher levels of performance. This document outlines how activators fit within the coaching space. Most sports need inspirational individuals who motivate people to take part and stay involved, and the activator is usually a parent or coach. 

Legacy of the Australian Coaching Council

The Australian Coaching Council (ACC) was established in 1978 as an initiative of the Sport and Recreation Minister’s Council. The ACC began as an independent organisation governed by its’ own board of directors, but was later amalgamated into the Australian Sport Commission. The ACC established the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) to help standardise some of the knowledge base components contained in coaching courses. The NCAS also provided a platform for National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) to develop courses and accreditation criteria that service different levels of coaching, from beginning to advanced and high performance. More than 70 NSO’s have incorporated the NCAS structure into their individual coach education and development pathway.

During the late 1980's and through the 1990's the ACC delivered many conferences, workshops, seminars and training programs to assist NSOs in the development of coach education strategies, programs, and resource materials. Through the NCAS, coach accreditation programs were established for entry level (community coaches), advanced coaches, and elite level coaches. 

In September 2017, after consultation with the sector and in recognition that since the establishment of the schemes, adult learning theory and practice has shifted, new technologies are available, participant expectations of the sport experience have changed and parental involvement in sport is different, the Australia Sports Commission (ASC) officially retired the NCAS and NOAS (officiating) programs.  Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission) will continue to develop content and programs that assist the sport sector, including the online Community Coaching General Principles and Community Officiating General Principles as well as other generic coaching and officiating resources.

The legacy of the NCAS remains in the established system of coach education and ongoing development used by Australia's sports, with individual variations on a sport-by-sport basis. 

Legacy of Aussie Sports

Community coaching is a concept often associated school sports as well as club sports. At the club level the majority of coaches are volunteers, who may not be committed to a career path in coaching. In the mid 1990’s the ACC developed the ‘Level-O’ course (non-accreditation) curriculum to train both primary school teachers and club coaches at an entry level, with specific emphasis on working with young children.

More information on the impact of the Aussie Sports program can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport, Aussie Sports.

Legacy of Active Australia campaign

Active Australia was an Australian Sports Commission campaign (1998 to 2002) that was designed to encourage a more active community through sports club participation.  One of the strategies to achieve this objective was the development of more sustainable and effective sports clubs. Key development areas were club structure and operation, and volunteers (including community coaches). A focus on the important role that club coaches (many of them volunteers) have in the club environment was another step forward for community coaching.

More information about club development and volunteers can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Club Development and Volunteers in Sport.

Legacy of the Active After-school Communities program 

The Active After-school Communities (AASC) program was launched by the Australian Sports Commission in 2005 to deliver two outcomes: (1) engage primary school-age children in a structured physical activity program during the 3:00pm to 5:30pm time period, and; (2) provide opportunities for ongoing participation in organised sport by introducing participants to sports skills through fun activities.

For the AASC to achieve its’ objectives, it needed to develop the skills of community coaches. Lessons learnt from the ACC Level-O and general principles of coaching curriculums were applied to community coaching qualifications sanctioned under the AASC. The ‘Playing for Life’ philosophy was also adopted and integrated into community coach training and AASC program design. The philosophy is based on the ‘game sense’ approach to coaching that is designed to create a fun and inclusive environment within which children can experience sport and other structured physical activities. The objective is to create positive and successful experiences that will carry forward into sport participation and lifelong engagement in physical activity.  The Playing for Life philosophy incorporates these principles, which are linked to the underpinning training that coaches receive:

  • The game is the focus, rather than isolated drills.
  • The coach is a facilitator, rather than a director of the activity.
  • Coaching is discrete, instructions and demonstrations are kept to a minimum. Children are challenged to solve problems through the activity.
  • Role models are used to emphasise good technique and/or strategies.
  • Players are encouraged to question.
  • Coaches consistently observe and provide feedback, changing activities as required to engage all participants.

Validation of Playing for Life philosophy for children aged five to 12 years (PDF  - 4.3 MB), Australian Sports Commission (2013). The ‘Playing for Life’ (P4L) philosophy has been a key underpinning of junior sport programs; it is based on a theoretical approach that uses games rather than drills to introduce the skills and tactics of the particular sport or structured physical activity being delivered. Research conducted by Victoria University’s Institute of Sport, Exercise an Active Living (ISEAL) was conducted to examine: (1) the effectiveness and appropriateness of the P4L philosophy for children aged 5 to 12 years; (2) the appropriateness of P4L for children aged 13 years and above, and; (3) if the P4L philosophy can assist in overcoming the barriers to sport participation for children.

Helping Kids and Communities get active: An interim report of the evaluation of the Australian Sports Commission's Active After-school Communities program 2005-2007 (PDF  - 2.2 MB), Australian Sports Commission (2008). During the first three years of the AASC program, 22,000 persons completed the Community Coach Training Program; and more than 53,000 community coaches were trained and registered under the AASC program overall.

Technical and further education 

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) was first introduced in 1995 to underpin the national system of qualifications in Australia that encompass vocational education and training. The AQF was phased in over a five year period and contained a ‘Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package’ that offered Certificate I through IV qualifications under the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system. A number of NSO’s have aligned their sport specific courses to VET competency standards so that qualified coaches obtain skills that are transferrable within the broader sport and recreation industry. Other NSO’s have structured their coaching education and qualification courses simply to meet the training demands of their sport. Coaching qualifications generally have a core skill-set as well as a sport specific skill-set. 

Advanced coaching qualifications have also been developed. The Australian Sports Commission supported the development of a Graduate Diploma of Coaching course that is now offered by several Australian Universities. Other tertiary qualifications can be used to support the technical and professional skills used by sports coaches. The most common tertiary qualifications held by coaches are in the applied sciences or physical education. In addition, business qualifications have been identified as a useful skill-set for high performance coaches.

Training Framework

On a practical level, Sport Australia (formerly ASC) supports NSO’s by providing an online ‘Beginning Coaching General Principles’ course that is a free service. The General Principles course provides generic information that is applicable to all sports, and complements the sport specific content offered by NSOs in their approved coaching accreditation courses. The General Principles course covers a range of topics, including: the role and responsibilities of a coach; planning; safety; working with parents; communication; group management; and inclusive practices. The General Principles course has been completed by over 233,000 persons [source: ASC website].

Moving forward on the legacy of past ASC programs and lessons learnt from the former National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) and its companion, the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme (NOAS), has led to the development of a Framework Toolkit. The development of the Framework has been led by the Sport Australia, in partnership with its NSO clients. This coaching development framework can be used by National Sporting Organisations to address these questions:

  1. What information is available about participants in my sport, and what information do I need to acquire; how can I use this in planning?
  2. How can my sport develop a package of training options that is suitable for the needs of the sport and its prospective and current coaches?
  3. How does my sport develop a strategy to deliver training for optimum impact?

Coach/Official Framework (PDF  - 333 KB), Australian Sports Commission (2015). This document provides a step-by-step outline that National Sporting Organisations (NSO) can follow to develop a framework for either coaches or officials.

Framework Toolkit: A guide for the development of coach and official frameworks, Australian Sports Commission (2017). This Framework Toolkit  and the related Training Program Toolkit have been designed to support national sporting organisations (NSOs) to develop their coaches and officials. These materials are not prescriptive but should be used as a guide to help develop training in your sport. 

Training Program Toolkit, Australian Sports Commission (2017). Quality training programs are essential if NSOs want to recruit, train, support and retain their coach and official workforce. This toolkit has been designed to support NSOs developing training programs.

It is clear that the policies and philosophies that drive community sport programs are closely linked to quality coaching, and this is determined by the skills coaches have and the training they receive. Once a person makes the decision to engage in sports coaching, learning experiences can be undertaken in several ways. The core elements of professional (i.e. 'professional' in terms of skill competency, not necessarily paid employment) development used by National Sporting Organisations are: (1) a training/education strategy, (2) practical experience opportunities, (3) valid assessment of competence, and (4) ongoing support for personal improvement.

There is no universal agreement on what should be included in the content of a course, particularly at an entry level to coaching. Certainly the rules and technical background of a sport are important; but equally important are the skills necessary to communicate, manage, and plan effectively. Modern coaching is more than teaching skills and developing the fitness of participants. Engaging children in sport is an increasingly difficult task because of the number and diversity of activities available to them. If sport is to become a child’s activity of choice, then coaches must deliver an experience that satisfies a number of personal and social needs. A significant part of a community coach’s training must incorporate a ‘child centred’ approach to teaching sport specific outcomes.  This may mean that sport specific knowledge becomes a value added part of the initial training.

Participation coaching curriculum: A guide for governing bodies of sort (PDF  - 855 KB), Lara-Bercial S, Haskins D Jolly S and Hawman C, Sports Coach UK (2012). The capabilities for coaches are outlined in this document, based on the philosophy that coaching is a ‘whole participant’ development activity. Coaches need to adopt an educational role to engage with youth in the context of sport.

Practical experience and ongoing support are essential components of training/education and are often delivered through a mentoring approach. Mentoring allows the accumulated knowledge of an experienced coach to be retained within a sport by passing it on to the next generation of coaches.  There are two forms of mentoring programs typically used by sports. First, mentoring can be part of an apprenticeship scheme, whereby a novice coach spends a period of time working under the direction of a more senior (experienced) coach. The second form of mentoring is the development of a professional relationship between someone at the start of their coaching career pathway and someone advanced along that pathway. This method allows the novice to coach autonomously, but receive assistance and advice from an experienced coach, when and where required.

Ongoing support for coaches can come from a number of sources – the club, sporting association, vocational and tertiary institutions, and coaching associations. The type and quality of ongoing professional development support has been shown to positively influence the decision of beginning coaches to remain in their sport. Opportunities for professional improvement will also encourage professional advancement of coaching as a career choice.

There is no doubt that technology has shaped the way we communicate, learn, and interact. Therefore the design and delivery of coach education has moved into the online learning space. Learning experiences have become more flexible and will continue to evolve with the use of new technology.  Online training allows access to persons in almost any location, as well as offering the flexibility of instruction on demand – rather than at a set time and place. Technology also has the potential to allow much greater individualisation of course content, to ‘tailor’ the instruction to suit the needs of the coach.  Mentoring can also be facilitated online, or integrated into other forms of instruction. The high acceptance of Sport Australia's online Coaching General Principles course confirms the potential of online learning methodology. Many National Sporting Organisations have adopted various aspects of e-learning in their coach education and support strategies.

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport portfolio, Sport Workforce Development

Education, learning and accreditation are closely intertwined. Accreditation programs are intended to add structure, value, and quality assurance to formal education as well as ongoing learning. One of the positive aspects of an accreditation system for community coaches is the inclusion of course content and learning outcomes in areas not directly related to the technical requirements of a sport. This is important if minimum standards for risk management and competency assessment are desired. From a risk-assessment perspective, the inclusion of many ‘general’ topics such as health, safety and coaching ethics is desirable.

A large body of research also suggests that a coach’s understanding of how social factors can influence the sporting environment will contribute to coaching success. Interpersonal skills, such as effective communication with athletes and empathy with their motivations and aspirations are also seen as desirable attributes for coaches. The possible inclusion of topics in a coaching education program can be extensive. The implementation of accreditation requirements can help make the case for which topics and learning outcomes are important to good coaching practice. An accreditation system attempts to identify what a coach must know, how that knowledge is obtained, and the validity of assessment protocols used. Accreditation systems also support good practice in teaching/learning methodology, as well as a strong focus on sport specific content.

Accreditation schemes serve to document what a coach should be expected to know and assess competency to some predetermined standard. Accreditation programs may also be linked to continual learning, as a means of documenting or tracking a coach’s long-term professional development. Educational or practical experiences that improve a coach’s ability can be planned or mapped as part of an accreditation program to address the question, “Can the coach meet the required standard?”

Assessment of a coach’s skills and competence is a key part of accreditation. A robust assessment process will identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in a coach’s knowledge and practice. The current trend in vocational training in Australia is ‘competency-based’ assessment rather than assessment of course content. That is, can a coach demonstrate that he/she can perform the necessary tasks to achieve the expected results? Knowledge-based assessment of course outcomes is still important, but it is only one predictor of actual coaching success, particularly at the junior sport level.

There are many advantages in having a coaching accreditation system, there are also some limitations or disincentives to new coaches, particularly those who are volunteers. The ASC commissioned research ‘Advancement in Sport Coaching and Officiating Accreditation’ (see reference under 'Research' below) draws attention to potential difficulties in a competency-based assessment system: (1) there is an inherent difficulty in accumulating sufficient evidence within the context of relevant sport settings; (2) competency assessment may require key supervisory personnel and involve a lengthy assessment period; and (3) the expertise of the assessor and the independence of the assessment process must be considered. These factors can pose a barrier to novice coaches as time consuming, often expensive, and possibly intrusive. On the other hand, creative use of competency-based assessment has the potential to individualise assessment within the real-life circumstances of the coach.

Community Coaching: Literature Review (PDF  - 1.4 MB), Marchant D and O’Connor D, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL), Victoria University, submission to the Australian Sports Commission (2012). This document provides the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) with a literature review on Community Coaching in Australia. The evidence base is intended to assist NSOs in the formulation of strategies and actions to develop their own (sport specific) community coaching strategy. Areas covered by the literature review include: (1) the value and suitability of accreditation for community level sports coaches; (2) the qualities of successful community coaches; (3) barriers to coaching in community sport; (4) pathways for coaches within community coaching, and from community coaching to high performance coaching; (5) recruitment, retention, training and support of sports coaches, and; (6) benchmark data, if available, to assist in measurement of progress. 

Research and existing survey statistics confirm that the majority of sports coaches (particularly at entry level) are volunteers. Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys indicate that about 56 per cent of all coaches have received some specific form of training relevant to their role in sport. However, this does not automatically mean that coaches who have not received formalised training do not have the competencies to function effectively. There are many factors associated with successful coaching that may be difficult to quantify or assess.

  • Another bad day at the training ground: coping with ambiguity in the coaching context (PDF  - 138 KB), Jones R and Wallace M, Sport, Education and Society, Volume 10, Number 1 (2005). This paper argues that the rationalistic assumptions on which the coach qualification process rests are rather unrealistic. It may be difficult (if not impossible) to measure the attainment of unquantifiable goals, such as promoting the enjoyment of participation or the ‘progressive’ development of athletes. Coaches can never gain absolute predictive control over their charges’ learning and actions, let alone their minds or emotions.
  • Coaches outside the system (PDF  - 1.0 MB), Nash C, Sproule J, Hall E and English C, Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh (2013). A survey was conducted, collecting information from 204 active coaches representing 34 sports who did not hold a coaching qualification recognised by Sport Coach UK. Reasons given for remaining outside the sport sector’s qualification/recognition program included: (1) sporting organisations offered little or no support, (2) coaches felt excluded because of a low level of qualification, (3) information on coaching could be found via the internet, and (4) sporting organisations presented a ‘political agenda’ that these coaches did not support.

Coach accreditation programs have gained acceptance in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand and although they are not perfect, evidence suggests the contribution to the overall effectiveness of coaches at the beginning as well as the advanced stages of their professional development is substantial.

Coach education and accreditation programs that are based upon an assessment of competency (i.e. the ability to successfully perform a task) may incorporate many learning strategies that come from both formal and informal learning experiences.  

  • Formal vs informal coach education (PDF  - 179 KB), Mallett C, Trudel P, Lyle J and Rynne s, International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, Volume 4, Number 3 (2009). Sports coaches participate in a range of learning opportunities (informal to formal) that contribute to their development to varying degrees. In this article, the authors present their understanding of the varying types of learning opportunities and their contribution to coach accreditation and development. A number of studies in Australia, Canada and the UK have highlighted that coaches’ learning in community, developmental, and elite sports environments is sourced from many different learning situations. Formal learning opportunities have the advantages of being packaged, having access to experts, formal assessment procedures, quality assurance measures, and recognition of achievement. Informal learning opportunities, regardless of whether they are intended to be part of a wider program or not, offer certain benefits; particularly if they are combined with mentoring. Coaches are at liberty to consult any or all sources of information to help them address their own specific coaching issues. However, limitations in informal learning situaitons can result from the lack of quality assurance. Overall, several studies on coaches’ learning have highlighted the significant contributions that informal learning experiences can make, within limits.

In 2010, the International Council for Coaching Excellence collaborated with international, national, and community sport organisations to develop a framework that would guide coach development pathways. 

  • International Sport Coaching Framework (PDF  - 3.4 MB), ICCE, International Council for Coaching Excellence and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (2012). The purpose of the Framework is to provide an internationally recognised reference point for the education, development and recognition of coaches. The Framework represents a significant step toward establishing consensus on the primary functions of a coach; roles and responsibilities of a coach in athlete development; qualifications, knowledge and core competences needed for coaching effectively; and the methods by which coaches are educated, developed and certified.

Increasing children’s physical activity (generally) and increasing participation in organised sport (specifically) are policy objectives of Governments. Research has linked sports participation to a number of personal (health, fitness, academic achievement), and social (socialisation, inclusion) benefits. A key issue in attracting and then retaining children and youth into sports programs is the quality of their experience. In many respects, coaches serve as the face of sports programs and their interaction with participants is likely to influence short and long-term participation outcomes.

To understand the role of the coach, it’s helpful to review the reasons why individuals, particularly children, engage in sport. The research literature suggests that there are a number of determinants of participation and each has both positive and negative factors:

  • Psychological / Psychosocial – Sport presents a number of positive factors such as fun, enjoyment, confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy, positive motivation, physical literacy, and social interaction. Sport may also present negative factors that drive children away from participation, such as lack of purpose, anxiety and negative motivation.
  • Physical – Sport offers benefits in fitness, health, and skill competency. Sport may also present negative factors such as burn-out (over use), injury, and poor body image.
  • Behavioural – Sport presents a number of strong role models and children can be influenced both positively and negatively. Parental attitudes and behaviours have the strongest influence, but coaches also have a significant presence.
  • Environmental – Sport participation can be influenced both positively and negatively by geographical factors, availability of facilities, social networks and community demographics.
  • Demographic – Age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and disability can have both positive and negative influence on sport participation.

The coach is uniquely placed in the sport environment to shape activities and relationships so that primarily positive outcomes are delivered. Coach education programs have generally addressed this fact by emphasising many of the non-technical aspects of coaching; such as understanding the individual psycho-social needs of participants, presenting skill and fitness activities in a fun way, using contemporary communication techniques, being sensitive to gender issues, and awareness of inclusive practices.

  • Coach and peer influence on children’s development through Sport (PDF  - 1.6 MB), Cote J, Chapter 26 in ‘Psychological Foundations of Sport’, Silva J and Stevens D (editors), Allyn & Bacon publishers (2002). In this chapter, the author analyses the influence of the coach from three perspectives: (1) the psychological development of children; (2) physical development, and; (3) development of social values.
  • Encouraging kids' physical activity engagement and wellbeing by improving their experiences in organised sport. European Commission (2014). Insufficient levels of physical activity are one important contributor to childhood obesity in many European countries. One setting which holds implications for children’s participation in physical activity is organised youth sport. However, many children involved in sport choose to drop out by the time they reach adolescence. Research has found that one of the important determinants of whether a child continues playing sports or decides to quit is the motivational climate created by coaches. The European Union (EU) funded research project ‘PAPA’ involved a training program for community based football coaches, Empowering Coaching.™ Within the PAPA project, researchers in the United Kingdom, Norway, Spain, France and Greece focused specifically on engagement with children aged 10 to 14 years through grassroots football. The research team partnered with football associations in the 5 countries to train coach educators to deliver the Empowering Coaching™ workshop to grassroots coaches. In all, 1,159 grassroots football coaches were trained during the period April 2009 to September 2013. Although a final project report is not yet available, preliminary data suggests that the coach training programme had measurable effects on children’s ongoing participation. Trained coaches made children feel that they were playing in a more empowering environment, and these children reported that they were more likely to continue playing. Trained coaches in a club setting were also more likely to engage with parents than coaches in a school setting, and thus help to change the attitudes of parents to become more ‘encouraging’ of their child’s participation in sport.
  • Social climate profiles in adolescent sports: Associations with enjoyment and intention to continue (abstract), Gardner L, Magee C and Vella S, Journal of Adolescence, Volume 52 (2016). This study explored whether adolescent sports participants' perceptions of the social climate fall into distinct profiles, and whether these profiles are related to enjoyment and intention to continue with organised sport. 313 Australian adolescents, mean age 13 years, participated in this study. Four distinct profiles were identified: (1) positive social climate; (2) diminished social climate; (3) positive coach relationship quality, and; (4) positive friendship quality. Participants reporting positive social climate and positive coach relationship quality profiles were most likely to continue in organised sport. The results highlight the value of positive coach-athlete relationships and an overall positive social climate for retaining adolescents in sport programs.

In November 2017 UK Coaching released the final report from a 4 year research project looking at the experiences of people who were either coached or not coached. Additional questions were added in the final year to focus on the reasons why people stop taking part in sport or physical activity. Participants were grouped into several market segments: active committed; active at risk; active returners; and inactive dropped out. Overall the results indicate that both adults and young people who are being coached are more likely to continue being committed to sport and physical activity, less likely to stop participating, and more likely to return to activity if they do stop (i.e. due to injury). However, the responses also demonstrate that people being coached are just as likely as those not being formally coached to think about stopping. Positive coach/participant relationships, and matching delivery to individual needs are important aspects for maintaining participation for all age groups.

  • The Impact of Coaching on Participants 2017, UK Coaching, (November 2017). This report presents the results from a four year study examining the experience of both adult and young participants who were either coached or not coached. [held by Clearinghouse for Sport]

Additional research by UK Coaching also examined the value of developing coaches to deliver high quality coaching sessions in the Tyneside community. The research concluded that the Social Return on Investment (SROI), which included physical wellbeing; mental wellbeing; individual development; social and community development; and economic development, was £3 for £1 invested.

Modern coaching methodology also places an emphasis on working appropriately with parents, families, and communities to create a positive environment. Coaches can serve as a powerful role model because of their leadership position. Quality coaching not only delivers optimal physiological, technical, and tactical aspects of a sport, it provides experiences that hook participants (and their family) into a sport by providing appropriate contexts, activities, encouragement, and motivation in a safe and fun environment.

  • The impact of coaching on participants, Hopkinson M, Sports Coach UK (2015). This report presents the findings from the first year of a four-year study of the impact of coaching (and coaches) upon sports participation. The current results provide evidence to support the belief that quality coaching can help bring people into sport, enhance their enjoyment, and increase how often they play and the likelihood of them staying involved. Key results from the survey identify how important quality coaching is. The report suggests that both adults and young people will have more positive playing experiences the higher the quality of their coach. The survey aimed to gather views from both people who are coached in their chosen sport, and those who play but do not receive coaching. [held by Clearinghouse for Sport]
  • Increasing participation in sport: The role of the coach, North J, Sports Coach UK (2007). This briefing paper provides an overview of the evidence and arguments on increasing sport participation with particular regard to the role of coaches. It reviews information from a number of disciplines including the sport and exercise adherence literature and coaching science. Key finding were:
  • The coach is well positioned to provide the individualised, responsive and dynamic environments that the research suggests are important to encouraging sport participation among children and youth.
  • The ‘coaching resource’ has generally been underutilised as a means of increasing participation.
  • Research with children suggests that coaches provide participants with fun and enjoyment, encouragement, sport development, social development, confidence; these factors contribute to lifelong involvement in sport.
  • Research suggests that coaches contribute to the psychological and social development of participants.
  • Research suggests that coaches can be used to target participation in specific communities; for example, socially excluded groups.
  • There is evidence to suggest that coaching is linked to increased sports participation intensity as well as participation frequency.
  • There are research gaps in exploring the link between sports participation and coaching.

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport portfolios, Engaging Parents in Sport and Junior Sport Framework.

Identifying how and when prospective coaches become engaged, as well as the factors that are likely to either encourage or discourage their entry and retention in coaching, is vital to any coaching system development strategy.

Research Essential: Pathways into Coaching (PDF  - 118 KB), Sports Coach UK (2011). This brief report provides a summary of information obtained from a survey of 1200 UK coaches, it provides some insight into a coach’s first experience.

  • There are two peak entry points into coaching. The majority of coaches began their experience at 16-18 years of age, or after 30 years of age. The first entry point probably represents a carry-over from sport participant to coach and the second entry point reflects the parent-volunteer coach who supports their child’s participation. In fact, 20 per cent of coaches surveyed indicated they started because of their child’s involvement in a sport.
  • High achieving athletes are likely to try coaching within a few years of retirement as a competitor. Former athletes with a lesser record of sporting achievement tend to enter coaching approximately five years later, on average.
  • Women are more likely to start coaching at a younger age than men. This is probably due to lifestyle considerations.

A six year research study from North America looked at the behavioural characteristics of coaches who were classified as ‘favourite coaches’ by former athletes. This research supported other investigations reporting that coaches exhibiting positive behaviours toward their athletes were remembered and described as the ‘most favoured’ and they were often described as role models. Favoured coaches were generally positive and creative in their approach, using frequent positive feedback. Although these coaches demanded high levels of effort, they did not negatively criticise or belittle athletes. Conversely, coaches described as ‘least favoured’ generally stressed winning, were not fair in making decisions, and did not communicate effectively with their athletes.

More than half of the positive behavioural characteristics associated with favourite coaches were related to social support – that is, showing concern for the athlete’s welfare, providing a positive environment, and exhibiting a professional yet personal relationship. About 30 per cent of positive characteristics were related to the coach’s perceived competence and technical skill, and; about 10 per cent were related to firm, but democratic decision making and communication.  Male and female former athletes were very similar in the way they evaluated coach behaviour.

Research suggests that the strongest motivation for entering coaching is the feeling of contribution to the sport and the club. Perhaps this is why a large portion of new coaches are parent-coach volunteers who wish to support their child’s participation. The sense of ‘giving back’ to the sport and a desire to positively guide the development of children through sport appear to be strong motivating factors. Perhaps these personal reasons are initially stronger motivators to enter coaching than the technical aspects or knowledge of the sport. However, many studies have shown that beginning coaches greatly value coach education and ongoing technical training to develop skills in their sport. Mentoring programs are also viewed as a valuable aspect of support provided by sports administration at club and association level.

With all the positive reasons for becoming a coach, why is the drop-out rate so high? In Australia, and generally in other countries, the trend is similar – the majority of community coaches are volunteers who remain in the sport for about three to five years and then move on; although they frequently remain active in another capacity within their sport. Insufficient administrative support, lack of recognition, and poor ongoing development opportunities are often cited as reasons for leaving coaching.

  • Should I stay or should I go? Retention of junior sport coaches (PDF  - 239 KB), Rundle-Thiele S and Auld C, Griffith University, open access document (2010). Using data from focus groups and archival material, the aim of this research was to examine the extent to which interactions between volunteer coaches, the immediate club setting, and the broader Australian Football League context influenced the decision of coaches to either leave their club or remain involved in coaching. The findings reveal that the decision by volunteer junior football coaches to stay centred on: enjoyment; success (manifested through team improvement); the nature and level of support from parents, the club and the league.

Employment status and salary, in terms of remuneration based on skills and time commitment, are frequently cited as barriers to continued coaching. If the decision is made to pursue coaching as a vocation, then other barriers are encountered; such as having a clear career pathway and balancing the time commitments of coaching with family responsibilities. Many sports do not have a clear development pathway for coaching that encompasses professional training, practical experience, and career progression. There is also evidence of gender imbalance in coaching, particularly beyond an entry-level. This may be due to family and child-care commitments of female coaches. Many studies have also shown that fewer opportunities for full-time employment exist for female coaches, and significant salary differences also exist between male and female coaches.

More information about gender issues in coaching can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport, Women’s Sport.

Coaching persons with disability is within the broader theme of ‘inclusive coaching’; this means that coaching practices should ensure that every participant, regardless of age, gender, ability or disability level, ethnic or socio-economic background has the opportunity to participate in sport. Good coaching practice should be based upon an understanding of the participant’s ability, then adapting practices to suit. Much of the decision making rests with the coach, although sporting organisations usually develop policies, strategies and a range of resources that provide guidance.

Knowledge of basic coaching principles, when applied through an inclusive philosophy, is usually sufficient for community coaches working with persons with disability. Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission) has developed resources that are complemented by the work of National Sporting Organisations in implementing the principles of inclusion. The Sport Australia website identifies these qualities and skills of an inclusive coach: (1) patience – recognising that some participants will take longer to develop and achieve their goals; (2) respect – acknowledgement of individual differences and treating all participants as individuals; (3) adaptability – having a flexible approach to coaching and communication; (4) organisation – recognising the importance of preparation and planning; (5) safe practices – ensuring every session is conducted with the participant’s safety in mind, and; (6) knowledge – understanding how to maximise the potential of every participant.

Many disability sport organisations or advocacy groups, as well as State/National Sporting Organisations (SSOs and NSOs), provide useful information about how coaches can interact effectively with persons with a disability in a sporting environment; these tips can be incorporated into coaching practice; for example:

  • Top Tips for including people with hearing impairments in your coaching sessions, Milner S, Connected Coaches, article published online (30 July 2015). People with hearing impairments may not necessarily have any other physical impairment. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing will have varying levels of hearing and may or may not choose to wear a hearing aid during sports participation. The coach must be aware that wearing a hearing aid neither corrects language nor restores perfect hearing. Therefore, coaching persons with a hearing impairment requires certain communication skills. This article provides helpful tips on ways coaches can communicate effectively with their hearing impaired athletes. 

The Coaching Association of Canada has published a useful manual that covers several themes that address situations that are unique to coaching athletes with a disability.

  • Coaching Athletes with a Disability (PDF  - 5.5 MB), Coaching Association of Canada (2011). People with a disability who get involved in sport are first and foremost athletes, and they have the same basic needs, drives, and dreams as any other athlete. Coaching is a crucial factor to the quality of their sporting experience. Many coaches who have never worked with athletes with a disability feel that to be effective they need highly specialised skills, knowledge, or training. This is a misperception, as most coaches who work with athletes with a disability soon discover that coaching these participants is fundamentally no different than coaching any other athlete. The challenge is to truly understand the athlete, to focus on their abilities, and to see what they can achieve.

More information can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport portfolio, Persons with Disability and Sport.

A common challenge facing community coaches is the recognition of common learning disabilities among young sports participants. Two common disorders are Auditory Processing disorder (APD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The difference between the two disorders is the source of the distracters; for APD the distracters are external and for ADD the distracters are internal. Auditory Processing Disorder is a neurological dysfunction that affects how a person processes auditory input. The difficulty is not in the ability to hear sounds, but the delay in processing sound input or difficulty distinguishing among various sounds in the environment. Processing of auditory information involves attention, detection, identification, comprehension, and memory of a signal. A child with APD may have difficulty in understanding or making sense of what they hear. Attention Deficit Disorder is a neuro-behavioural disorder of childhood. There are different types of ADD – inattention; hyperactive-impulse, and; combined symptoms.

Although every child that is hyper-active does not have ADD and every child that is a poor listener does not have APD, the coach must recognise that some children need extra help. Sport can provide a positive environment for children demonstrating APD / ADD symptoms if the coach responds with understanding. There are many strategies that a coach can implement to effectively work with a young athlete that is experiencing difficulties in one or several learning/behavioural areas.

  1. Communication is key, coaches can ask parents or teachers about strategies that work with an individual. Always let the athlete know why you are using specific communication methods and tools.
  2. Delivery style must be concise and clear. Sometimes saying less is better, as the child can then concentrate on the message. Competing noise (distraction) is often a problem and the coach may need to address this.
  3. Having the athlete in front of the coach and close enough to use visual information may help the athlete focus their attention.
  4. The technique of ‘pre-teaching’ is a good strategy; reviewing the training session before it begins may give the athlete more time to absorb key messages. Key messages that are repeated will be easier to remember. Having the session plan posted on a whiteboard helps those athletes who are better visual learners than they are auditory learners. By pre-teaching, the athlete will know what to expect. This will also help to organise an individual within a group.
  5. Use visual aid frequently with APD and ADD athletes.
  6. Monitor the athlete’s reception of messages, look for signs of recognition and understanding – verbally reward these behaviours. The athlete also needs to take responsibility for letting the coach know if they don’t understand.
  7. Finally, show compassion and be a positive influence in the athlete’s life. Help them feel successful by showing them that with hard work they can achieve their goals even though there are obstacles to overcome. Often these athletes have a low self-esteem, so the sport setting is a good opportunity for them to excel to the best of their ability. [source: adapted from 'ADHD 101:Tips and strategies for coaches', USA Swimming (2008)]

Sport integrity issues of concern to coaches include: behaviour and code of conduct, harassment and discrimination, performance enhancing drugs, and match fixing and sports betting.

Play by the Rules is a program that represents a partnership between Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission), the Australian Human Rights Commission, the NSW Commission for Children and Young People, and all state and territory sport and recreation departments and anti-discrimination agencies. Various risk management strategies are identified which may help coaches maintain a safe, inclusive and fair environment for sport participation.

Harassment-free Sport: Guidelines to address homophobia and sexuality discrimination in sport (PDF  - 166 KB), Australian Sports Commission (2000). Sexuality discrimination and homophobia may be hidden, ignored, and brushed aside. A coach, because of his/her position of authority must be aware of potentially discriminatory practices or a culture of discrimination. This document will help those engaged in sport to: (1) recognise forms of discrimination that operate within a sporting organisation; (2) recognise forms of discrimination and harassment to which you or others might be subject, or might participate in; and; (3) deal with homophobia and sexual discrimination in appropriate ways.

The use of physical punishment of children and youth in sport and recreation (PDF  - 445 KB), Position Statement, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (2013). The CCES defines physical punishment of children and youth in sport as any activity or behaviour required as a consequence of poor sport performance or some other undesirable behaviour that causes an athlete physical pain, discomfort or humiliation and is: (1) disconnected from, or not logically related to, the sport performance or behaviour it is intended to change; or (2) disconnected from, or not logically related to, improving performance in the sport; and (3) not consented to by the athlete (and/or their parent or guardian) engaged in such activity or behaviour. Coaching practices based upon ‘punishment’ are not acceptable in a sporting environment.

Child protection policies in sport are intended to keep children safe from abuse and protect them from persons (usually adults) who are unsuitable to work with children in a sporting environment. While there is no national legislation to underpin child protection, there are laws in every state and territory jurisdiction. Each set of legislation contains a form of working with children screening requirement that may include signed declarations, appropriate probity checks, or a criminal history check. Every coach must comply with the applicable legislation if they are working with children.

More information on Child Protection in Sport can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport.

Netball Australia

Netball Australia (NA) is the National Sporting Organisation responsible for governance of the sport. NA has developed policies, strategies and resources to support its many thousands of coaches across the country. Netball Australia has outlined a comprehensive coach development strategy in its ‘blueprint’.

  • Coaching Blueprint (PDF  - 6.9 MB), Netball Australia (2015). Netball Australia (NA) recognises that coaches play an important role in supporting and enhancing the participation experience as well as developing players to progress along the athlete pathway. To articulate a clear and purposeful direction to its coaches, while making them feel connected to the wider coaching community, NA has developed this coaching blueprint. It reiterates Netball Australia’s commitment to invest in coach development and to work collaboratively with key partners to ensure that coaching has the maximum positive impact on players in all environments and at all levels.

Netball Australia supports its coaching strategies with an underpinning philosophical rationale.

  • Coach Approach (PDF  - 7.8 MB), Netball Australia (2015). This document outlines Netball Australia’s philosophical approach to coaching and promoting player learning. Player-centred coaching allows athletes to take ownership of their learning by creating awareness, responsibility and self-belief. Many of the ideas embedded in the Coach Approach are not new, but they serve to reinforce best practice in coaching and player development. An important role of the coach is to develop resilient and competent players who are motivated to enjoy their participation in netball and able to positively influence their own development, regardless of their level of participation. This philosophy is underpinned by the experience of experts as well as evidence.

In addition, Netball Australia provides various resources to assist coaches and administrators.

Swimming Australia

Swimming Australia Limited (SAL) is the National Sporting Organisation (NSO) recognised by Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission) as the governing body for the sport of swimming; SAL is affiliated to the International Swimming Federation (FINA). SAL’s stakeholder structure consists of affiliated state/territory swimming associations, plus the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA) as well as the Australian Swimmer’s Association (ASA). ASCTA, as a professional membership organisation and a stakeholder within SAL, has specific responsibilities for swimming coach education, training, and ongoing development. ASCTA assists Swimming Australia in the administration of accreditation courses sanctioned under the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme and provides a licensing system for swimming coaches to operate under the umbrella of SAL and ASCTA.

Swimming Australia and ASCTA work closely together to provide coaches with initial education, ongoing support, up-to-date resources, and various professional services. The swimming coach’s accreditation program offers a multi-level competency-based training and performance recognition system.

A unique aspect of the organisational relationship between SAL and ASCTA is that the ASCTA also has qualified swimming teachers within its membership. Swimming teachers gain their qualification within the aquatic industry’s Vocational Education and Training standards, but usually operate outside of the jurisdiction of the sport’s club system. ASCTA, as well as other registered training providers, offer bridging qualifications to encourage swimming teaches to add competitive swimming skills to their qualifications. Thus, ASCTA is able to offer a clear pathway from teacher of swimming to coach of swimming.

Swimming Australia Ltd. has developed policies and programs that are inclusive of coaches, recognising their fundamental role in the overall development of athletes and the sport of swimming. Swimming coaches, as a stakeholder group within SAL, are part of any consultation process and have a role in implementing policy.

Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission)

Programs developed by Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission) have gained national acceptance and are delivered in a number of formats. The General Principles Coaching Course is available online from Sport Australia and many National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) have incorporated these general coaching principles with sport specific content in their coaching courses.

The National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) was developed in 1979 as a model for coach education and recognition. In September 2017, after consultation with the sector and in recognition that since the establishment of the schemes, adult learning theory and practice has shifted, new technologies are available, participant expectations of the sport experience have changed and parental involvement in sport is different, the ASC officially retired the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS).  Sport Australia will continue to develop content and programs that assist the sport sector.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Economic Development Directorate, Sport and Recreation Services, offers a variety of workshops of interest to sports coaches.

New South Wales

The Office of Communities, Sport and Recreation, delivers a variety of courses and workshops for sports coaches.

Northern Territory

The Department of Sport and Recreation facilitates training for coaches in beginning and intermediate General Principles of coaching courses, a coach mentoring program, and presenter and assessor training courses. The Department also works with sporting organisations and clubs to develop workshop topics to suit their needs.


The Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing offers a variety of courses and workshops of interest to sports coaches.

  • Workshops for community coaches and volunteers, Sport and Recreation (2017). The Building Active Communities Workshop Program provides free workshops to increase the skills and knowledge of community sport and recreation volunteers such as committee members, coaches, team managers, officials and administrators. The workshops aim to: (1) focus on key local issues to build capacity of local clubs through the skills and knowledge of volunteers; (2) inspire new ideas and help participants take on challenges; (3) increase involvement with sport and recreation clubs and organisations in Queensland. 2017 programs are subtitled ‘Plan, Prepare, Perform’.

South Australia

The Office for Recreation and Sport, through the State Coaching and Officiating Centre offers courses, seminars and workshops for sports coaches.


The Department of Premier and Cabinet, Sport and Recreation Tasmania, provides funding to the Training and Business Company to deliver all generic Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission) coach accreditation. These courses include Beginning and Intermediate Coaching General Principles, Presenter/Facilitator, Assessor and Mentor courses.


Sport and Recreation Victoria supports State Sporting Associations in their delivery of coaching accreditation courses. Special target groups include: women and girls, culturally and linguistically diverse populations, urban growth corridors and regional population centres, and support for new sport delivery programs (for example, Tennis Hot Shots).

Western Australia

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries has established a Coaching Advisory Group that advises the Department on strategies and initiatives to facilitate the recruitment, education and training of sports coaches as part of their people development strategy.  The Department also conducts free General Principles of coaching courses around the state and conducts professional development programs of interest.

The majority of Australia’s National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) provide programs and services for their coaches. Coaches in some sports have formed membership associations to further advance education and professional development opportunities for their members. Associations of like-minded coaches may also have an advocacy role within their sport. Examples of sport coach’s associations in Australia include:


The Coaching Association of Canada unites stakeholders and partners in its commitment to improving the skills of coaches and the stature of coaching programs; ultimately expanding the reach and influence of coaches. The National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) is delivered through partnerships between the federal and provincial governments.  The NCCP offers training courses and workshops to inform, educate, and inspire coaches; giving them the knowledge and confidence they need.

  • Community Sport Coach, Coaching Association of Canada. Community coaching is part of the entry level training program.

New Zealand

Sport New Zealand recognises the huge contribution that quality coaching makes to sport and communities and has developed a national coaching strategy, supporting policy framework and plans.

  • Coaching Starter Pack. This online training package for beginning coaches contains modules on: the role of the coach; principles of fair play; sport for everyone; how athletes learn; developing skills and understanding; communicating effectively; the elements of an effective coaching session; and competition.
  • Coach and Athlete Development Continuum, Sport and Recreation New Zealand (2014). We all understand that coaches work with and develop athletes. There are also people who develop coaches (Coach Developers), and people who train coach developers (Trainers). Having these different roles identified and understood helps ensure that the specific support and development requirements of each role are met, which in turn strengthens the coach development system.
  • New Zealand Coaching Strategy (PDF  - 244 KB), Sport New Zealand (2012).  The Coaching Strategy provides a visual representation of the strategic framework underpinning coach development over the next eight years. In doing so it highlights that coaching is primarily participant and athlete focused and that coach development should focus on coaching communities that align with the different stages of participant and athlete development.
  • New Zealand Community Sport Coaching Plan 2012-2020 (PDF  - 3.4 MB), Sport New Zealand (2012). New Zealand now has a clearer focus on Community Sport development so it is important to focus on the coaching communities that service the community sport area. The issues and challenges within the Foundation and Development Coaching communities are significantly different to those within the High Performance community. The Performance Coaching community is the transition stage between community sport and high performance sport. Both the High Performance Coaching Plan and the Community Sport Coaching Plan address this area, but as HPSNZ has a very defined and targeted focus on the High Performance area, the Community Sport Coaching Plan will take the lead in fostering collaboration across the performance area.
  • The New Zealand Coaching Workforce: Literature Review (PDF - 2.7 MB), Sport New Zealand (September 2014). Sport NZ commissioned this literature review to support the implementation of its ‘Community Sport Coaching Plan’. The review aims to identify key factors about the recruitment, training and retention of coaches. This information may help sports administrators understand the profile of coaches at all levels of sport, both paid and unpaid, and ranging from community to high-performance settings. It also provides a synthesis of key findings from the international literature. The review identifies a number of gaps in the evidence base; such as, there is little in the way of published information about the impact of strategies to enhance coaching and coaching systems.

United Kingdom

UK Coaching is a registered charity dedicated to placing coaching at the centre of sport.  The organisation works with its network partners to help develop coaching programs and resources, provide information and advocacy about coaching, and conduct research into coaching practice.  Key partner organisations that deliver coaching programs include: Department for Culture, Media and Sports (UK Government), Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland, Sport Wales, Sport Scotland, UK Sport, Youth Sports Trust, National Skills Academy, SkillsActive, and the Association for Physical Education.

  • UK Coaching Framework (PDF  - 7.8 MB), Smith C (editor), National Coaching Foundation, Sports Coach UK (2008). Effective coaches play a vital role in developing, sustaining and increasing participation in sport, as well as in the attainment of international success. This framework will help to clearly map the key goals, structures, and resources needed to advance coaching; identify the working arrangements among stakeholders; identify the specific role played by Sports Coach UK as the recognised leading agency, and; identify the agreed processes and procedures required to provide cutting-edge services, products, and systems supporting coaching at all levels.
  • UKCC Level 1 Guide (PDF  - 3.9 MB), Sports Coach UK (2012). This guide provides the potential new coach with basic information about the 27 sports in the United Kingdom that have qualification standards at an entry level for coaching, as part of the UK Coach Certificate program.
  • UK Coaching Research Resource Bank. UK Coaching undertakes a number of different research projects each year, including coaching surveys, ROI research, and participation research. The reports are generally freely available on their website. 

There is a recognition in the UK that participation in physical activity (generally) extends beyond the framework of organised sport. The Active Lives research project covering England reported that a significant proportion of the population (both adults and children) do not receive the recommended amount of physical activity. Physical activity providers, particularly those outside of the organised sport sector, can improve upon the way they engage with people who are not active, or not active enough.

Traditional coaching education courses may not place enough emphasis on providing physical activity leaders with sufficient insight, so they can attract and retain people by offering a positive experience. There is evidence that quality coaching improves the likelihood that participants will stay active for longer. Likewise, many coaches/instructors are guilty of focusing on skill and game development while ignoring the motivations of ‘less sporty’ (i.e. poor skills and motivation) participants.

The Sports Marketing Network, as a coach/instructor training provider, distinguishes between the role of ‘coaching’ (i.e. improving sport skills of committed participants) and ‘activating’ (i.e. improving the satisfaction and commitment of participants). They define an ‘activator’ as a person in a leadership position who removes the barriers inactive people experience when wanting to become more active. Activators focus on keeping participants motivated, engaged and physically active; skill development and game sense (although important) may be secondary. Four key attributes of a successful activator are:

  1. They must be connectors – Connectors are people who know lots of people; but they are not always leaders. A connector continually creates new relationships and acts as a voice for the community.
  2. They must be welcomers – Welcomers are persons who ease new participants into a new situation or activity and they become advocates for the new participant’s concerns.
  3. They must be great communicators – Activators must be able to communicate effectively with many different kinds of people; those who participate, as well as parents, officials, coaches and other members of the community. An activator's ability to communicate provides leadership and inspiration to everyone.
  4. They must be great follow-uppers – A key part of retaining a participant is to follow-up on their experiences. Using the philosophy that ‘it was great to see you yesterday and we are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow’ as well as sharing experiences via social media platforms.

United States

There are a number of organisations in the United States that are involved in coaching in various capacities; such as training, advocacy, and research. Different organisations represent commercial, not-for-profit, and academic sector interests. From the not-for-profit sector, the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA) is concerned with the training of volunteer coaches, having trained more than 2.5 million coaches since its inception in 1981. Volunteer coaches must complete the NYSCA training program to be eligible for membership.  The NYSCA is part of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), also a not-for-profit organisation, which is a leading advocate for positive, safe, and inclusive sports activities for children.

  • National Standards for Youth Sports: Modifying the sports environment for a healthier youth (PDF  - 753 KB), National Alliance for Youth Sports (2008). The standards serve as a blueprint for how sport and recreation organisations and professionals or volunteers deliver youth sports programs. The standards ensure that everyone involved in sport strives to make the environment safe, positive, and fun for all children. Coaches must receive information and training about a program’s philosophy, policies, and procedures; as well as specific knowledge required by each sport; and everyone is held accountable for their behaviour and high quality program delivery.
  • Changing the Game in Youth Sports Project. The mission of the Changing the Game Project is to ensure that youth sports in the United States becomes more child centred. Because parents and other adults are so influential, this project provides the information and resources they need to make sports a healthy, positive, and rewarding experience for their children, and their whole family. Parenting and coaching young athletes is an art, not a science, and the information provided can help adults make better decisions.

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.


  • National Coaching Resource, Basketball Australia, (2017). Released in October 2017 as part of Basketball Australia’s ongoing commitment to supporting coaches at all levels of the sport. Coaches can discover coach development activities in their region and store them in their e-calendar, as well as watching an extensive video library of coaching clinics from FIBA, Basketball Australia and each State/Territory Association. Additional resources include blogs and factsheets from Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence staff and other contributors.
  • Coach Developer Program Resources, Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission). Because the recruitment, training and retention of coaches is critical to attracting sport participants, developing athlete skills, and delivering a quality sporting experience at all levels of sport – Sport Australia has partnered with a number of National Sporting Organisations to pilot a ‘Coach Developer’ (CD)Program. The CD program will produce generic resources that sports can use / adapt / or modify according to their needs.
  • Coaching Framework Toolkit, Sport Australia (formerly Australian Sports Commission). This resource will help National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) develop their coaching and officiating pathways. The framework is designed to draw from, and align with, the NSO’s Strategic Plan and support both participation and high performance plans. The planning process will allow NSOs to make strategic decisions about how they allocate resources for training and ongoing support. It will also provide coaches and officials with a clear map of training and professional development opportunities and career progression.
  • The Inclusion Club: inclusive sport and active recreation for people with disability. This information sharing website links an international community of like-minded people committed to the inclusion of people with disability in sport and active recreation. A number of information resources are available about coaches and coaching methods.
  • Inclusive Coaching (PDF  - 95 KB), Australian Sports Commission (2010). Athletes with a disability compete from club to international level in a wide range of sports. While there are some considerations concerning rules, equipment and sometimes technique, coaches, teachers and sports leaders in general do not need to treat athletes with a disability differently from any other athletes. The different stages of learning and the basic techniques of skill teaching apply equally for athletes with disabilities. A coach, teacher or sports leader can ensure their approach is inclusive by applying the TREE principle: Teaching/coaching style; Rules and regulations; Equipment; Environments.
  • Planning, developing and implementing a coach licensing scheme: A guidance tool for governing bodies of sport (PDF  - 1.9 MB), Sports Coach UK (2014). A licence to practise as a coach within a specific sport is a measure of currency of coaching practice that builds upon qualifications and experience. This guidance tool has been developed for governing bodies of sport who are looking to develop or who are reviewing an existing coach licensing scheme.
  • Planning and managing a mentoring programme in sport, Sports Coach UK and Sport Northern Ireland (2012). This resource explains how to set up and run mentoring programs for sports coaches.  The explanations and guidance offered aim to support governing bodies of sport and other organisations in planning, implementing and reviewing structured mentoring programs.
  • Play by the Rules – resources library.
  • Positive Coaching Alliance. The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is a USA based organisation dedicated to developing better athletes who are better people. The PCA supports education and training for coaches, parents, and administrators; to do this the PCA maintains an online resource centre that contains useful articles. PCA resources reach about 8.6 million youth in the USA.
  • Sport, children’s rights and violence prevention: A sourcebook on global issues and local programmes (PDF  - 2.2 MB), Brackenridge C, Kay T and Rhind D (Editors), Brunel University, London (2012). This book provides an expanded set of evidence and resources to back up the 2010 UNICEF report Protecting Children from Violence in Sport: A review with a focus on industrialized countries. Article 19 of UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children have the right to be protected from violence, calling on governments to take all appropriate measures for the protection of children, including while in the care of others. Measures include strengthening child protection systems; increasing awareness and strengthening the protective role of parents, teachers, coaches and others caregivers; and developing and implementing standards for the protection and well-being of children in sports. The protection of young athletes starts by ensuring that those around children regard them in a way that is appropriate to their needs and that is respectful of their rights.


  • Addressing the decline in sport participation in secondary schools—Findings from the Youth Participation Research Project (PDF  - 3.8 MB), Australian Sports Commission and La Trobe University (2007). The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) is committed to keeping sports relevant and viable, whilst supporting all Australians to develop their physical literacy for active and healthy lives. The ASC is aware that the sport environment is changing and is dedicated to supporting our national sporting organisations to thrive and maximise their ability to contribute to participation outcomes. A key component of this commitment is the sharing of high-quality information, research and data to enable better decision making concerning participation.
  • Advancement in sport coaching and officiating accreditation (PDF  - 346 KB), Dickson S, University of New England and Australian Sports Commission (2001). This research sought to explain why the vast majority of coaches and officials remain at the lowest rung of accreditation. Notable findings with respect to coaching accreditation barriers were: (1) costs associated with courses, (2) specified criteria for attending courses and gaining accreditation, (3) geographical location of respondents, (4) personal commitments and lack of time, (5) the perceived gap between accreditation levels. Notable findings that support accreditation programs were: (1) the value of face-to-face course instruction, (2) the contribution of support networks, such as mentoring, and (3) the quality of assessment.
  • Coaching changes lives: summary report, sports coach UK, (October 2016). This document briefly summarises the findings of Sports Coach UK and StreetGames’ SROI evaluation, conducted on Tyneside between September 2014 and July 2016. The full report, including an introduction to SROI, a full glossary of SROI terminology and the rationale for all decisions taken in the research, can be found on our website. It also includes confirmation that the full report has received report assurance from Social Value UK, the national network for social value and social impact
  • The Coaching Panel: A review of coaches and coaching in 2014 (PDF  - 491 KB), Sports Coach UK (2014). This report reflects the comments of coaches participating in a national survey in the United Kingdom. The core of the coaching workforce comes from the 35-55 age-group, but it is kept alive by a steady stream of younger recruits, especially those aged 16-19. However the evidence suggests this stream of recruits may be in decline. Coaching (as an occupation) remains under-represented by women, cultural and ethnic minorities, and persons with disability. Sports clubs are at the heart of coaching activity, with 70 per cent of all coaching session taking place in clubs, schools and leisure centres. About 76 per cent of coaches have undertaken some form of continuing personal development during the previous 12 months, but learning through new coaching experiences is the most popular way for coaches to develop. The impact of different forms of learning varies between those that make a significant impact (talking to and observing others, reflection, mentoring) and those that make a short term impact (online learning, social media, reading). Coaches are split on the value of technology to coach development. The level of qualification a coach holds will often determine the type of information they will seek in the future. About 79 per cent of coaches feel they are supported by their governing body or coaching organisations. However, more than half of the coaches surveyed would like to see improved access to coaching knowledge, mentoring, and help with the cost of attending development programs.
  • Community Junior Sport Coaching (PDF  - 990 KB), O’Connor D and Cotton W, University of Sydney (2009). A comprehensive report on research conducted by the University of Sydney in collaboration with the New South Wales Department of Sport and Recreation, the Australian Rugby Union, and NSW Rugby League about junior coaches. Findings from this research identify a number of characteristics, attitudes and practices of junior rugby coaches. Key findings include: (1) an average of 5.6 years of experience in coaching; (2) training sessions that consisted of 45 per cent skill development, 20+ per cent game development, 20+ per cent deliberate practice, and 10 per cent fitness training; (3) an average of four interventions each session for technical explanation and positive modelling; (4) twice as much positive corrective feedback than negative; (5) observation was the most dominant coaching behaviour; (6) 13 per cent of a coach’s time was spent on management and organisational tasks; (7) 84 per cent of activities were whole group and 16 per cent were pair or individual activities; (8) 69 per cent of coaches felt they regularly achieved the goals of their training sessions; (9) coaches who did not hold a qualification conduced significantly longer training sessions than those having a coaching accreditation; (10) more experienced coaches spent significantly more time questioning their players.
  • ‘Current directions in coaching research’, Gilbert W and Rangeon S, Revista De Iberoaerica de Psicologia del Ejercico y el Deporte, Volume 6, Number 2 (2011). Based on a review of the literature and awareness of the field, the two major research themes identified are coaching effectiveness and coach development.
  • ‘Fast track’ and ‘traditional path’ coaches: affordances, agency and social capital (PDF  - 133 KB), Rynne S, Sport, Education and Society, Volume 19, Number 3 (2014). A recent development in coach accreditation structures has been the ‘fast tracking’ of former elite athletes. Former elite athletes are often exempt from entry-level qualifications and are generally granted access to shortened versions of the accreditation courses undertaken by ‘traditional path’ coaches. This case study compared and contrasted the learning opportunities and personal agency of a fast track coach with that of a traditional path coach.
  • Identifying excellent coaching practice along the sporting pathway (PDF  - 683 KB), Allen J, Bell A, Lynn A, Taylor J and Lavalle D, Sports Coach UK (2012). Recognising that coaches operate in different contexts and with different participant groups is fundamental to understanding what ‘best practice’ coaching looks like. This research looked at the coach development model used by Hockey Great Britain. Participant populations were: children 5-11 years old, youth aged 12-18, adults, and high performance. Four higher order themes emerged from the data: (1) ability of coaches to understand the ‘big picture’ of athlete long-term development; (2) understanding the interpersonal context of coaching and coach-athlete relationships; (3) program management and session content; and (4) implementation of coaching practice – working with athletes, program delivery, and intervention skill.
  • The impact of coaches providing healthy snacks at junior sport training, Belski, R., Staley, K., Keenan, S., Skiadopoulos, A., Randle, E., Donaldson, A., O'Halloran, P., Kappelides, P., O'Neil, S. and Nicholson, M., Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, (18 October 2017). Sports clubs provide an opportunity to tackle childhood obesity rates through targeted interventions. Our study aimed to investigate if coaches providing healthy snacks to participants before junior netball sessions at five clubs in Melbourne, Australia, increased consumption of healthy foods and influenced coach perceptions of participants’ attention/participation levels. Baseline: Ice cream and cake were the most frequently consumed snacks. During intervention: Fruit, cheese and crackers and vegetables were the most frequently consumed snacks. Coaches ratings of participants’ attention/participation increased significantly (baseline: 6.4 ± 0.17, intervention: 7.5 ± 0.36; p=0.02) where the same coach undertook ratings at both time points. The authors conclude that coaches providing healthy snacks before sessions at sports clubs increased consumption of nutrient-dense foods at the session, and may have positively affected participants’ attention/participation.
  • Impact of coaching on disabled people’s participation, English Federation of Disability Sport and sports coach UK, (January 2015). The findings are based on ‘The impact of coaching on participation’ July 2014 from sports coach UK. We worked with sports coach UK to review data so to explore experiences of disabled people and their difference to non-disabled participants. 
  • Influences of coaches, parents, and peers on the motivational patterns of child and adolescent athletes, Chan D, Lonsdale C and Fung H, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Volume 22, Issue 4 (2012). This study assessed the relative impact of social influences initiated by a coach, parents, and peers on children and adolescent athletes' motivational patterns (self-rated effort, enjoyment, competence, and competitive trait anxiety). Data was collected on 408 youth swimmers, aged 9 to 18 years, from Hong Kong. The analyses generally showed that the social influence from a mother was strongest in childhood (mean age=10.8 years) and the influence from peers was greatest in adolescence (mean age = 16.3 years). The social influence from a coach was greatest on athletes' effort and enjoyment during childhood, and for competence during adolescence. The authors concluded that age appeared to moderate the impact of social influence from significant others on young athletes' sport experiences. Also, the type of influence a coach has on an athlete’s experience will change from childhood to adolescence. 
  • ‘Investigating the impact of coach leadership on positive youth development through sport’, Vella S, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, School of Psychology, University of Wollongong (2011). This research examines how the positive developmental experiences of adolescent athletes can be optimised through coach leadership and coach education.
  • Lapsed Coaches: a baseline study of the attitudes of lapsed coaches (PDF  - 321 KB), Sparks M, SportInfo (2004). The Coaching and Officiating Unit of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) in partnership with SPORTINFO conducted a survey of coaches, registered under the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme, who have failed to renew their coaching qualification. The survey was designed to provide baseline information on these coaches, their attitudes towards accreditation and reaccreditation, the NCAS and their sports role. A total sample of 452 lapsed coaches completed the survey. Key findings from the survey were: (1) one in three coaches responding to the survey were unaware that their accreditation had lapsed; (2) reduced financial burden (such as cheaper insurance) and greater assistance and support from clubs and associations would encourage coaches to return; (3) most of the non-active coaches were not practicing, but would renew their accreditation if they resumed coaching; (4) there was widespread support for the coach accreditation process and strong agreement that accreditation provides a valuable start for coaches; (5) results suggest a lack of understanding of, and commitment to, the renewal process and uncertainty as to whether the ASC or sports drive this scheme.
  • Objectively measured physical activity in Danish after-school cares: Does sport certification matter? (PDF  - 348 KB), Domazet S, Moller N, Stockel J and Reid-Larsen M, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, published online 2 December 2014. This study was conducted during 2011 in 10 Danish after-school care centres, 5 using certified coaches and 5 having staff without sport qualifications. Physical activity data was collected on 475 children aged 5–11 years over 8 consecutive days. In Denmark, a sport certification program was introduced in 2008 for after-school care workers. The certification is managed by the Sports Confederation of Denmark and the Danish Gymnastics and Sports Associations. The program is intended to increase children’s physical activity through continuing education of all pedagogical personnel, development of a movement policy, accessibility of sports facilities and encouraging play environments. The data from this study did not support a statistically significant difference in the overall physical activity level of children in the two types of after-school care centres. Children’s activity levels were found to be quite similar across all centres and were considered to be high. This study did not conduct a qualitative analysis (skills learnt, etc.) of the children’s physical activity.
  • Perceptions of coaches and coaching, Sports Coach UK, (April 2015). Research to understand how the general public perceive coaches and coaching in order to help raise the profile of coaching, improve recruitment practices into coaching and examine how attitudes towards coaching can affect sports participation. 
  • Profiling the Australian coaching workforce (PDF  - 2.2 MB), Dawson A, Phillips P, Salmon J, Wehner K, and Gastin P, Centre for Exercise and Sport Science, Deakin University (2013). This report provides population data about the Australian coaching workforce across all levels of sport participation.
  • What works in coaching and sport instructor certification programs? The participants' view (PDF  - 137 KB), McCullick B, Belcher D and Schempp P, Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, Volume 10, Number 2 (2005). This study looked at the strengths of a coaching certification program, based on the perceptions of the program participants. The themes that emerged from the participants’ responses revealed four major factors viewed as enhancing their training as sport coaches: (1) the format of the program must be logical and sequential; (2) pedagogical knowledge should be taught; (3) sport specific content knowledge is essential, and; (4) the link between sport pedagogy (teaching and learning methods) and subject matter (sport strategies and skills) must be apparent.


  • ‘Authenticity in formal coach education: Online postgraduate studies in sports coaching at The University of Queensland’, Mallett C and Dickens S, International Journal of Coaching Science, Volume 3, Number 2, pp 79-90 (2009). Formal coach education can and does positively contribute to understanding and developing good coaching practice if integrated appropriately with practical experience. In this paper the authors advocate for formal coach education (integrating authentic learning experiences) through online learning.
  • Coaches, sexual harassment and education (PDF  - 131 KB), Fastinga K and Brackenridgeb C, Sport, Education and Society, Volume 14, Number 1, (2009). Interviews were conducted with 19 female elite athletes who were sexually harassed by their male coaches to determine the characteristics of the harassing coach. They found that such coaches could be described as one of three types: (1) a flirting-charming coach; (2) a seductive coach; and (3) an authoritarian coach. Sexual harassment prevention is often either missing from coach education programs altogether or subsumed within broader themes. The authors conclude that since the coaching environment is so closely linked to traditional male values, a transformation of the coaching culture and associated re-scripting of coach behaviour might be easier if more female coaches were involved in sport.
  • Coaching insights: coaching statistics and analysis 2015/16, Sports Coach UK, (2016?). Copy of a presentation reporting some key statistics and insights from coaching surveys. 
  • Coaching players with a disability. Tennis Australia (TA) provides information and coaching tips to assist coaches working with players with a disability.  The TA website contains information on coaching deaf players, wheelchair players, players with an intellectual disability, and blind players.
  • Consequences of sexual harassment in sport (PDF  - 70 KB), Fasting K, Brackenridge C and Walseth K, Journal of Sexual Aggression, Volume 8, Number 2, pre-publication copy published online (April 2002). This article reports on the findings from interviews with 25 elite female athletes in Norway who had experienced sexual harassment from someone in sport. The analyses of the qualitative interviews revealed that some of the incidents of sexual harassment, especially cases of harassment by another athlete, seemed to have no particular consequences for the athletes. However, sexual harassment episodes from a coach had damaged the coach-athlete relationship and led to changes in the athlete’s behaviour towards the coach.
  • Do coaches need knowledge of impairment to coach? The Inclusion Club explores this question to clarify the issues that impact on the required knowledge of impairment a coach should, or should not, have to coach an athlete with a disability, available online (2014).
  • 'Junior Sport Framework Review, draft briefing paper: Role of adults in junior sport', Mallett C and Rynne S, UniQuest, prepared for the Australian Sports Commission (2012). Coaches can play multiple roles within a junior sport context, each role has a distinct influence on the subsequently response and impact upon sports participants. This review looks at the available evidence (and identifies gaps in the knowledge base), describing the behaviours of community coaches and the subsequent interaction with, and impact upon children and youth. (note: the Clearinghouse for Sport holds a copy of this document)
  • Male coach/female athlete relations: gender and power relations in competitive sport, Tomlinson A and Yorganci I, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Volume 21, Number 2 (1997). The authors cite a number of cases that demonstrate the gender nature of the coach-athlete relationship. They comment on the context and dynamics of power and control. They conducted a survey of British elite female athletes (N=154) and followed up with 18 in-depth interviews to determine the extent and nature of sexual harassment in sport. The research found that many female athlete/male coach relationships were based on a patriarchal, autocratic model of authority and that sexual harassment (when it occurred) was rarely reported or challenged.
  • Resource Guide in Sports Coaching (PDF  - 314 KB), Jones R; Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (2005). There is a growing school of thought that scholarly investigation into coaching have only begun to explore the essential nature of the activity, which is considered to be complex, multi-faceted and integrated. What are a coach’s roles and associated responsibilities as they relate to the dynamic, intricate and often ambiguous nature of coaching which are dictated by context. This guide maps out coaching research along disciplinary lines; for example, work based in sport psychology, sociology, etc.
  • 'Junior Sport Framework Review - draft briefing paper: Role of adults in Junior Sport', Mallett C and Rynne S, UniQuest Project Number 00715 (2012). This draft report was preprared for the Australian Sports Commission. The quality of the sporting experience for sports participants is contingent upon the quality of adult leadership. Coaches can have multiple roles and exert considerable influence within a junior sport environment. This review looks at the available evidence (and identifies gaps in the knowledge base) describing the behaviours of community coaches and the interaction with, and impact upon, participants; primarily children and youth. Based upon available evidence, this review recommended that community coaches should: (1) focus on holistic development of junior sport participants – including general and specific physical, technical and tactical skills, as well as psycho-social skills; (2) develop their knowledge and skills in three broad areas – interpersonal knowledge (understanding others) – intrapersonal knowledge ( self-reflection and learning as a coach), and – sport specific knowledge; (3) focus on how they coach as much as what they coach and consider how they explicitly contribute to athletes’ outcomes such as competence, connectedness, confidence, and character. 
  • A review of published coach education research 2007-2008, Rynne S, Mallett C and Tinning R, International Journal of Physical Education, Volume 46, Issue 1 (2009), access full text through Research Gate. Formal coach education and accreditation is considered to be essential to the ongoing process of professional development of sports coaches.  This review looks at published research during the period 2007 to 2008.
  • ‘Twenty years of Game Sense sport coaching in Australia: 1993-2013 – where are we now?’, Zuccolo A, Spittle M and Pill S, Proceedings of the 28th ACHPER International Conference, Melbourne 2013, pp. 188-196. The Game Sense (GS) approach to coaching in Australia can be traced back to 1993 as a methodology that integrates technical, tactical and fitness training. Since then the concept of GS has been refined and further developed as a coaching approach. The GS approach now appears as part of the curriculum in some sporting organisations, as well as in some states’ Physical Education curriculum frameworks. The GS approach is included as part of the Australian Sports Commission’s Beginning Coaching General Principles online course and the Active After Schools Communities Playing for Life Coaches Guide. The inclusion of the GS approach in coaching documentation is also aimed at recreation, elite professional coaches, junior and youth development programs; this suggests that a GS approach to coaching can be implemented at all levels of sport development. This paper traces the growth and refinement of the GS approach and invites readers to reflect on the refinement and current state of GS as a preferred coaching approach for Australian sport.
  • Using coach education to reduce drop out (PDF  - 810 KB), Atubra S and Bonner K, presentation at the 2011 UK Coaching Summit, Belfast, Northern Ireland. A case study of British Gymnastics and how coaching practice (among other factors) contributes to the rate of athlete drop-out. Nearly one-third of parents surveyed expressed concern about coaching, including comments such as: coaches should be more encouraging; sessions need to be more ‘fun’ and less serious; coaches need to respond to athlete’s social and age-related needs, and; coaches need to provide more feedback to parents. Limitations to the existing coach education structure were highlighted, they included: vertical coaching pathways were linked to technical skill level; all coaches received the same training, regardless of context; coaching status was related to accreditation level, not necessarily effectiveness, and; many coaches wanted to remain a ‘recreational coach’ rather than become a career coaches. Recommended changes to the coaching system were: (1) introduce a generic level-3 course; (2) place more emphasis on coaching relationships; (3) greater application of knowledge in a coaching context, and; (4) framing coaching as a complex social endeavour.


  • Wayne Goldsmith's tips for parents and junior coaches, Sport New Zealand/YouTube, (27 November 2017). A series of six short videos aimed at parents and coaches to help support children to play and enjoy sport. 
  • Continuous Improvement - Getting Better at CoachingMoreGold Performance Consulting/YouTube, (19 September 2016). Great coaches realise that success is a moving target and to stay relevant they must be committed to life-long learning, honest personal and professional evaluation and continuous improvement.
  • Community Coaching - Matthew Richardson coaches junior football team (Part 1), Sport Australia/YouTube (2015). Three-time AFL All-Australian Matthew ‘Richo’ Richardson volunteers his time to help out his local junior football team; but Richo finds himself in a sticky situation when he is met with a bunch of unruly children. See how Richo overcomes these challenges and becomes a better coach.
  • Community Coaching - Matthew Richardson coaches junior cricket team (Part 2), Sport Australia/YouTube (2015). AFL Legend Mathew ‘Richo’ Richardson thinks he has what it takes to coach his local cricket team. But even with his professional playing career behind him, it proves to be tougher than it seems. See how Richo overcomes these challenges and becomes a better coach.
  • Recruiting Coaches, Carol Byers, Netball Australia.
  • Playing for Life Activity Cards, Sport Australia/YouTube .
  • Turn to Sport and Play for Life, Sport Australia/YouTube .
  • YourChild in Sport (animated video), Canadian Sport for Life (2015). This six-minute video focuses on the five healthy child development principles that a coach must offer: (1) that the coach is a caring adult; (2) the child has the opportunity to make friends; (3) the child has the opportunity to play; (4) the child has an opportunity to master skills, and; (5) the child has the opportunity to participate. The video also looks at the role that parents can play in supporting their child in sport.
  • Game Changers (episode 9) Zach Parise, National Alliance for Youth Sports. The NAYS Game Changer video series features successful athletes discussing their youth sport experiences. In this episode, professional ice hockey player, Zach Parise, tells how playing many sports as a child helped him develop sport skills and lifeskills.
  • Game Changers (episode 8) Marshall Faulk, National Alliance for Youth Sports. The NAYS Game Changer video series features successful athletes discussing their youth sport experiences. In this episode, ex-gridiron (American Football) player Marshall Faulk talks about how his coaches helped to shape his behaviour and attitudes, making him a better person.
  • Game Changers (episode 7) Mike Conley Jr., National Alliance for Youth Sports. The NAYS Game Changer video series features successful athletes discussing their youth sport experiences. In this episode, professional basketball player, Mike Conley Jr., talks about having his Olympic athlete father as his youth coach.
  • Game Changers (episode 6) Adam LaRoche, National Alliance for Youth Sports. The NAYS Game Changer video series features successful athletes discussing their youth sport experiences. In this episode, professional baseball player, Adam LaRoche, talks about having his father as his youth coach and the life lessons learnt from sport.
  • Game Changers (episode 5) Orel Hershiser, National Alliance for Youth Sports. The NAYS Game Changer video series features successful athletes discussing their youth sport experiences. In this episode, retired baseball player, Orel Hershiser, talks about the influence of his parents and his past coaches.
  • Game Changers (episode 4) Stephen Strasburg, National Alliance for Youth Sports. The NAYS Game Changer video series features successful athletes discussing their youth sport experiences. In this episode, professional baseball player, Stephen Strasburg, talks about his career and having fun as part of his early sport experiences.

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