Introduction to Coaching Practices

  • Outline the mission and philosophy of Special Olympics and communicate this information to others.
  • Identify the role of a Special Olympics coach and utilise the qualities and skills required to coach athletes in training and competition.
  • Identify key factors which should be considered when working with athletes with an intellectual disability and apply adaptations in practice.
  • Organise, plan and deliver a coaching session.

  • Pathway Phase:
    The Introduction to Coaching Practices is aimed at Special Olympics volunteers who are interested in becoming involved in coaching. Once the course has been completed, coaches will work with athletes in the FUNdamental phase in an assistant coach capacity.

    Entry Requirements:
    Participants will be over 16 years of age and will be registered volunteers with Special Olympics Ireland. No previous coaching experience or qualifications are necessary, however a strong interest in coaching and sport is recommended.

    8 hours. 
    The course can take place in several formats (excluding breaks):
    One Day - 8 hours
    Two Days - 4 Hours
    Three Days - 2/3 Hours;

    The course will use both class based and field based presentations, combining demonstration, lectures, discussion opportunities and experiencing practical coaching skills. Coaches will experience all aspects of a coaching session from planning, organisation, running the session, provision of feedback and evaluation.

    No formal assessment will be completed for the course; however, coaches will receive feedback from tutors and peers during practical tasks. Certification:  Full attendance is required by all participants in order to receive their certificate of attendance. The certificate will be awarded by Special Olympics Ireland with Coaching Ireland accreditation as part of the Coaching Development Programme for Ireland (CDPI).

    Ongoing Support:
    The Introduction to Coaching Practices Course is the first step on the coaching ladder for volunteers wishing to become involved in coaching within Special Olympics Ireland. For coaches who wish to further develop the coaching capacities detailed below, Special Olympics Ireland recommends undertaking sports specific Introductory and Level One Coaching Courses in your chosen sport, combined with practical coaching experience. Coaches could also do continuous professional development (CPD) workshops.

    Player/Athlete Capacities

    Focus on development basic motor skills including sound running (straight, lateral and multi-directional), jumping (vertical jumps, single and double footed jumps, standing long jump, bounding, hopping) and throwing techniques (basic under and over arm throws)
    Sports specific skills learned in a modified manner for a variety of sports.
    Use of appropriate footwear and clothing and equipment.

    Introduction to concept of simple sports rules and ethics of sport.
    Basic games and movement concepts and patterns for individual and group activities.

    Development of the main components of physical fitness – strength, speed, power, flexibility and endurance.
    Developing the ABCs of movement (Agility, Balance, Coordination and Speed).
    Use of fun/mini games to develop speed, power and endurance.
    Develop linear, lateral and multi-directional movement using simple speed and agility exercises.
    Learning how to develop core body strength using a combination of simple and basic own body weight exercises, swiss ball and medicine ball exercises.

    Develop a positive attitude towards physical activity and sports participation.
    Enhance concentration and attention.
    Enhance self confidence and self esteem by achieving personal success and receiving regular constructive and positive feedback

    Participate in multiple sports in order to:
    Develop a broad range of fundamental motor skills and experience a variety of sports.
    Build the foundations of a physically active lifestyle.
    Become familiar with the importance of safety and safe training practices.

    Experience sport/exercise as a source of enjoyment and fun.
    Understand the basic concepts of fair play, honesty and teamwork
    Develop a positive attitude towards sport, team mates, and opponents and therein enhance social and interaction skills.
    Physical Activity 5-6 times per week
    A Training/Practice: Competition ratio of about 75:25 is recommended

    Coaching Capacities/Knowledge
    On completion of the Special Olympics Ireland Introduction to Coaching Practices course, coaches should have the knowledge and capacities detailed below

    Knowledge of the sport and of the player/athlete

    Understand growth and development and the interaction of learning disability with the growth and development of the athlete.
    Have a basic knowledge of what a learning disability is.
    Awareness of the learning process and capacity development.
    Outline the capacities at the FUNdamental phase of the SOI athlete pathway.
    Coaching style, values and ethics
  • Define the role of a coach, along with listing the key responsibilities and duties of a coach.
  • Develop confidence in their application of the coaching process and the crucial steps in the skill development process.
  • Awareness of the Code of Ethics and Good Practice.
  • Outline the inclusive ethos of Special Olympics Ireland and the importance of catering for all abilities.
  • Have a basic knowledge of learning disabilities and feel confident in including people with a variety of learning disabilities and perhaps additional disabilities (e.g. physical or sensory impairment) into the session.

  • Needs analysis and planning
    Outline the concept of individual difference, particularly in relation to the wide variety of learning disabilities and physical disabilities that a coach in Special Olympics might encounter.
    Be able to plan a basic session and outline the basic components of a session.
    Plan for and apply good safety practices and regulations.

    Coaching at practice/performance

    • Develop good organisation skills.
    • Ability to provide a well planned session with appropriate and good quality demonstrations.
    • Understand the need to observe, analyse, provide feedback, adapt and progress when teaching a skill.
    • Outline the importance of adequate and constructive practice time.
    Communication and Teamwork
    • Use open communication with players/athletes, parents, carers and other coaches.
    • Outline the communication issues with which a coach may be faced.
    Review, evaluation and self-reflect
    • Coaches should have the ability to review and evaluate their sessions in a basic way.
    • Outline the value and importance of regular self-evaluation.