Some prospective Special Olympics coaches have coaching experience; some don’t. Some have experience with individuals with intellectual disabilities, some don’t. A coach may be a teacher, family member, a volunteer from other areas of Special Olympics, or someone simply charged up to change others’ lives and their own!
Ongoing coaches education is the most significant factor in the improved training of athletes. The goals of Special Olympics’ Coaches Education program are:
- To provide every coach working in a sport with a basic knowledge of that sport (events, rules, basic skills and how to teach those skills).
- To provide all coaches with knowledge about Special Olympics, its history, philosophy and goals.
- To provide all coaches with knowledge about persons with intellectual disabilities and the current trends in this field.
- To provide coaches with information on sports injury, risk management and providing a safe environment.
- To provide a practical experience coaching Special Olympics athletes, in order to put into practice information provided by the Coaches Education Program.
- To provide coaches with general knowledge about the art and science of coaching sports.
Special Olympics provides our volunteer coaches with the basic principles, techniques and tools to effectively coach Special Olympics athletes. Coaches education is necessary and mandatory. Our athletes deserve the most knowledgeable coaches who are trained, who can access sport-specific coaching guides and rules, who provide the safest environment in which to train and compete and who receive ongoing education. Click below for resources and online courses that support Special Olympics coaching education.
Becoming a Certified Coach
Special Olympics’ Coaches Certification program is designed to ensure that all persons involved with the coaching of Special Olympics athletes have a minimum base of knowledge about the sport(s) they coach.
- For all state level events, including Sectional Tournaments, each County program is required to have a minimum of one sports specific certified coach present for each sport in which the county is participating.
- Coaches new to Special Olympics must take part in the certification process within one year of beginning coaching.
- Coaches who are currently certified have to renew their sports specific certification every 3 years, either by taking a more advanced level of Special Olympics coaches training, or by taking an approved non-Special Olympics course.
Steps to Certification
- First get in touch with you local Special Olympics program
- Talk to your County Director to schedule a time for you to attend a General Orientation training (requisite for all coaches). This brief training will give you an overview of Special Olympics and will provide you with information you will need in your role as a coach.
- Complete a Class A Volunteer Form. For communication purposes and for the safety of our athletes, every coach must be a registered Class A Volunteer and undergo a criminal background screening. You will not be able to commence any coaching activities until you have been deemed an approved Class A Volunteer by Special Olympics Florida.
- While waiting for your Class A Volunteer application to be processed, take Special Olympics’ requisite on-line Protective Behaviors training (your background screening will not be processed until we are notified by Special Olympics that you have successfully completed this on-line training). This is so athletes and volunteers alike can help create a safe and healthy atmosphere for everyone involved.
- Attend an approved second course covering a specific sport, aspects of coaching individuals with intellectual disabilities, or other coaching tactics
- Complete the Special Olympics Application for Sports Training Certification and submit it to the local Special Olympics program.
Learn more about Coaching Excellence Progression
Other Online Resources
Special Olympics offers a comprehensive set of Coaching Guides in each sport and the Special Olympics Summer and Winter Rules Book are available in print and online in several languages. Here is a listing of documents in Spanish.
At Special Olympics we love the thrill of the game and pushing our limits to achieve a new personal best! Through divisioning Special Olympics athletes get a fair and equal opportunity to compete regardless of ability level, giving them the greatest chance of achieving success.
The USTA Florida Section Foundation, a not-for-profit tennis association that works toward the promotion and development of tennis as an enjoyable, lifetime sport that contributes to good health, character and responsible citizenship, are now official partners of Special Olympics Florida. That means all counties with a registered tennis program are eligible to receive adaptive tennis equipment. Apply today! Also fill out the Equipment Request Form and upload with your application.
Code of Conduct
Special Olympics is committed to the highest ideals of sport and expects all coaches to honor sport and Special Olympics. All Special Olympics coaches agree to observe a code of conduct.