“A good coach can change the game. A great coach can change a life.” – John Wooden

Why Coaching Matters

Coaches are vital to the success of Special Olympics. They teach our athletes new sports skills and help them take their abilities to new levels. Coaches also exemplify good sportsmanship and model character traits to enhance the sports experience for our athletes. The lessons our athletes learn from coaches – teamwork, self-discipline and confidence – impact them on and off the playing field.

Our Coaches Education program consists of three tiers:

Tier 1 – Sports Volunteer / Chaperone

The first level in our Coaches Education program is the Sports Volunteer or Chaperone role for a team/program. Any prospective coach needs to complete the following four requirements to be cleared to chaperone a team or an athlete. These are the basic forms that screen our coaches to ensure our athletes’ safety, which is our number one priority. All of these items will need to be completed only once and should take less than 30 minutes in total.

Tier 2 – Head Coach / Assistant Coach

The next step in our Coaches Education program is Head Coach/Assistant Coach level. Anyone who wants to be a Head or Assistant Coach must complete all of the requirements under Tier 1 as well as all of the items listed below.

Tier 2 requirements are tailored to specific sport needs and require in-person training. The in-person trainings allow for the development of skills and drills for a sport that coaches can bring back to their practice and games. The online training sessions will take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete. The in-person trainings will be 3-4 hours depending on sport and venue availability.

Tier 3 – Continuing Education

The third tier is continuing education for coaches. This entails broadening your experience with Special Olympics athletes and/or completing coaching-related training.

A great way for coaches to gain more experience with athletes is to volunteer at a Special Olympics Washington sports or special event.  With nearly 200 sports and special events held year round, there are plenty of opportunities to interact with athletes.

As part of their continuing education, we ask our coaches to do one of the following each year:

  • Volunteer at a Special Olympics event, such as a regional or state games, or at a special event. You can learn more about Special Olympics Washington volunteer opportunities here.
  • Complete a Continuing Education Course (Sportsmanship, Principles of Coaching, etc.)
  • Waiver for Continuing Education, please contact Coaches@sowa.org.

Other Resources:

Current Coaches Resources
Athlete-Centered Coaching Guide