Sport coaches train teams or individuals in various skills on how to improve their performances. They determine the level of instruction required by observing how the individual or team performs. Their job titles generally reflect their sport (i.e. hockey coach, rugby coach, soccer coach, swimming coach, figure skating coach) or their position relative to others in an organization (i.e. head coach, club coach).
Techniques are taught to acquire and improve skills. Coaches plan training programmes and activities to keep athletes fit and strong. They work closely with sports managers and they apply the findings of sports scientists regarding fitness, to improve their coaching.
Coaches arrange fixtures and entries into competitions and sometimes months of strategic planning pass before the actual competitions. Coaches need to analyse progress or mistakes from previous competitions or games and then try to improve and correct the mistakes players made.
Coaches also perform administrative tasks, for example, organising tours, controlling finances and making bookings. They employ or dismiss staff and team members. Some coaches operate on an honorary or unpaid basis, but most operate professionally and are paid.
A coach’s job is usually structured around the coaching season. During the pre-season, coaches arrange training camps or pre-season try-outs, plan and direct fitness programs for the team and individual players, plan and conduct practices, analyse the strengths and weaknesses of their athletes and those of the competition (often through the use of videotapes and films), and assist in fund-raising.
During the season, coaches continue to direct fitness programmes, conduct daily practices and analyse performance. They prepare for competition tours and events, direct the game plan and tactics, encourage, motivate and direct the team and individual athletes, keep records of athlete, team and opposing team performance, revise plans and strategies as needed, and meet with media representatives.
In the off-season, coaches may do fund-raising and public relations work, review videos of past games and individual performances, make plans for next season, scout new players or athletes and attend and give clinics.
Important skills are physical fitness, excellent interpersonal skills, communication skills and team-working skills.
Schooling & School Subjects
No formal education is required, however a degree or diploma can be useful
Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences, English and other Languages
Sports coaches usually come through the ranks in that they have often played sport at a competitive level. Courses available at Northlink FET, UZ, ETA
Department of Sport and Recreation
Tel: (012) 304-5038
Exercise Teachers Academy
P O Box 694
Tel: (021) 683-8342
Sports Science Institute of South Africa SSISA
Private Bag X5
Tel: (021) 659-5600
The South African Sports Commission (SASC)