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Introduction to the Coach Development Pathway

The UK Coach Development Pathway offers a comprehensive approach to coach development whereby coaches can qualify to work with various populations within specific environments.

Several roles and qualifications have been created. All roles are regarded as being equally valuable to the sport and where appropriate the system is flexible. This allows individuals to choose a pathway that meets the needs of the athletes they are working with as well as their own personal aspirations.

There are two main Development Pathways available, one for coaches who wish to work in an ‘On-Track Environment’ and one for coaches who wish to pursue coaching in predominantly in an ‘Off-Track Environment’.

When you are deciding which qualification is right for you, the first decision you need to make is if you want to work in an on track based environment, such as a traditional Athletics club, or in a purely non-track based environment such as a road running or fell running club.

There are two main Development Pathways available, one for coaches who wish to work in an ‘On-Track Environment’ and one for coaches who wish to pursue coaching in purely an ‘Off-Track Environment’.


The Off Track pathway


Individuals who wish to work in a purely non-track based environment have a pathway specifically designed for their needs. This pathway is for those coaches who work exclusively with athletes training for road running, fell, cross country or multi terrain events.

(*Please note that individuals who wish to coach endurance events from 800m to 10K on the track should take the On Track pathway as this deals with preparing athletes for Track based competition.

The Off-Track Pathway is illustrated below.


There are two main qualifications available within the Off Track Route - Leader in Running Fitness (LiRF) and Coaching in Running Fitness (CiRF).

If you wish to look at more information about qualifications within the Off Track route , please click here for more information.


The 'On track' pathway


Individuals who wish to work in an on-track environment supporting sessions using an Athletics Track (such as 800m-10K track competitions, sprints and hurdles, jumps or throws) should take the On-Track pathway.

The On-Track Pathway is illustrated below.

There are 4 main qualifications available within the On Track Route:

  • Coaching Assistant
  • Athletics Coach
  • Event Group Coach
  • Event Specialist Coach (*Not yet available)

If you wish to look at more information about qualifications within the On Track route , please click here for more information.

What's the difference between Assistant and Coach Roles?

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Both clubs and individuals have limited resources in terms of time and money that can be allocated to supporting athletes achieve their full potential. Not all roles of value to clubs and athletes require individuals to take part in extensive training before they can be undertaken.

For example, a parent who wishes to help supervise and organise children while they undertake Athletics based games, or measure how far an athlete has jumped as part of a testing session does not need to have spent several months learning about the technical aspects of Athletics before they can be of real value to a club, whereas a dedicated Hammer Coach may need to. Therefore, the different roles of ‘Assistant’ and ‘Coach’ exist within the qualifications pathway to meet the needs of individuals who wish to carry out various tasks and to allow clubs to 'mix and match' skill sets to meet their unique structure and needs.


Assistant


The ‘Assistant’ role is designed to help individuals take their first steps towards becoming a coach by allowing them to learn their craft by working under the supervision of a Licenced Coach.

Assistant awards are designed to be an affordable way of getting started in coaching. The time commitment required to gain the award is usually two days and once qualified the assistant can help a Licenced Coach who is present at the same venue. In this way Assistants enable clubs and coaches cater for more athletes without a large investment in resources. Those assistants who wish to become more involved and coach unsupervised can then invest in becoming a qualified Coach by taking one or more of the awards available within the ‘Coach’ role.


Coach


The ‘Coach’ role is designed to allow those who wish to dedicate themselves to practicing the art and science of coaching Athletics to do so in an unsupervised manner.

Coach awards require a significant investment in terms of resources and, due to the larger number of contact days and the assessment processes involved, are more expensive than an ‘Assistant’ award. The time commitment required to gain a Coaching award is usually around four days of on course contact time plus significant self directed study.

While Coach awards do take typically 6-12months to complete they are only the first step in the coaching journey. Like any vocation, Qualified and Licenced Coaches will then need to practice their craft extensively and engage in self directed Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in order to become truly effective.

Need more help deciding which course is suitable?

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To further assist you in deciding which course is most suitable, we have interviewed a number of coaches who have experienced one of the Coach Education courses. In the podcasts, coaches reflect on why they chose their particular course and how it has benefitted both them individually and their athletes.

In the first PDF and Podcast, Paul Moseley talks to John Renney about why he chose to undertake the Athletics Coach and the Children's Coach Courses.

Download the John Renney PDF here:

John Renney.pdf (PDF File, 672KB)

Still have further questions? read these FAQ's...

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How does informal coach development fit into this?

Working with the Home Countries, we’re providing a rich and diverse system of coach development which is incredibly flexible to your needs as a coach: Conferences, Masterclasses, coach get-togethers and other activities will all form part of the programme. Please view the CPD Events section of uBook to see what events are available or contact your Home Country (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales) for more details.

I am currently a qualified UKA coach, what will happen to my qualification?

If you are a Level 1,2,3 or 4 UKA coach or hold CiA, LiRF or FiRW licences, these qualifications will remain with you for life as long as you adhere to the terms and conditions associated with them.

So if I’m currently a Level 1 coach what are my options if I choose to take further qualifications under the new proposed system?

Level 1 coaches are encouraged to move into a coaching role and enter the system through either the Athletics Coach or Coach in Running Fitness awards. However, level 1’s who would like to refresh their skills can undertake courses aimed at individuals working as a Coaching Assistant.

If I’m currently a Level 2 coach what are my options if I choose to take further qualifications under the new proposed system?

There are several options available for Level 2 coaches:

For those working with developmental athletes and who may wish to work across multiple events groups, you should consider the Athletics Coach award.

Those working with athletes at the Event Group stage of development should take the ‘Event Group Coach’ Award.

Those Level 2 coaches working predominantly with adults in an off track environment should take the ‘Coach in Running Fitness’ award.

For those Level 2 coaches who have considerable experience and have developed their coaching skills independently of the current coach education system through informal coach development and mentoring, you may wish to consider the challenge of the Master Coach award when it becomes available.

If I’m currently a Level 3 or 4 coach what are my options if I choose to take further qualifications under the new proposed system?

Coaches who currently hold a Level 3 or Level 4 licence can choose to undertake any of the courses that fall within the coach role; they may wish to take an award that meets the needs of the athletes they are predominantly coaching or aspire to coach, or they may wish to take the Specialist Coach or Master Coach assessment when they become available.

When will the Event Specialist Awards be available?

These awards are currently being developed over the next Olympic cycle. When we are close to releasing these awards an announcement will be made via all the Home Country websites as well as uLearn.

Been away from the sport for a few years? More FAQs...

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What’s happened to the old Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 & Level 4 courses?

The "level based" UKA courses stopped being delivered on 1st April 2010. They were replaced with new courses (LiRF, Coaching Assistant, Athletics Coach, CiRF, etc). More information on courses that are now available can be found below and from the navigation bar. (This can be found to the right of this box).

If you already hold one of the old ‘level based’ qualifications and wish to continue with the coaching qualifications process, you should now attend one of the new courses. Details of the courses that are now available can be found below. Alongside this, to clear up and confusion and help you decide which qualification is next for you; you can download the Q & A document. This document clarifies how your old qualification fits in with the new structure.

I am currently a qualified coach under the old UKA Levels system do I have to take a new course in order to continue to coach?

No. There is no requirement for anyone to take another course in order to continue to coach. It is totally your decision if you would like to take further qualifications. Your current qualifications will remain with you for life as long as you adhere to the terms and conditions associated with them.

Why the change from the "Levels system" to this new "Roles" structure?

The levels system did not cater for coaches working with various athlete populations outside of senior track and field athletics. Under the new structure there are awards for coaches working with developing athletes, seniors and adult participation athlete populations.

Why the change from the UKCC programme that was advertised during 2008/9?

The decision was partly financial; coach education needs to be affordable and it was believed that the cost of the UKCC courses would have been prohibitively expensive.

Course material will now be integrated into an online and distance learning format where possible to maximise the free uCoach resource. There will therefore be a requirement for candidates to access content on uCoach both pre and post course.

Jargon Buster

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Assistant: The first formal step towards becoming a licensed coach. This qualification begins the preparation to taking on a role of coach whilst working under the supervision of a qualified coach.

Athlete Development Pathway: The ADM aims to provide information and guidelines regarding four key areas fundamental to athletics coaching; biological development, training considerations, training and competition requirements and physical condition.

Athletics Coach: A licensed Athletics Coach can operate in an unsupervised environment coaching sprints, hurdles, javelin, shot, high jump, endurance running and walking.

Coach in Running Fitness: A licensed Coach in Running Fitness can operate in an unsupervised environment coaching off track endurance activities to over 12’s.

Coach: The cornerstone of the coach education programme. Prospective coaches begin in one of two streams, Athletics Coach or Coach in Running Fitness.

Coaching Assistant: Should work from session plans and/or task cards. The Coaching Assistant can deliver a whole session unassisted but a Supervising Coach should be present at the venue.

Coach Development Pathway: Offers a comprehensive approach to coach development where coaches can qualify to work with various populations within specific environments. The Coach Development Pathway provides a visual representation of the journey from becoming a ‘Coaching Assistant’ to specialising in the development of specific populations. There are two main Development Pathways available, one for coaches who wish to work in an ‘On-Track Environment’ and one for coaches who wish to pursue coaching in a predominantly ‘Off-Track Environment’.

Coaching Diary: Forms part of the assessment to becoming a fully licensed coach. Assessment components within the diary include; an action plan, a review of action plan, session plans and self-evaluations.

Continual Professional Development (CPD) Events: CPD events such as conferences, workshops, master classes and mentoring programmes complement coaching qualifications by allowing you to develop coaching and leadership experience in a flexible and personalized way.

DBS: UKA takes its responsibilities towards the welfare of young people in athletics very seriously and requires everyone who has significant contact with children to have an Enhanced Disclosure Barring service check.

Decision Tree: An interactive feature that helps you discover which award / qualification to take.

Event Group Coach: A licensed Event Group coach can operate in an unsupervised environment coaching whichever groups of events appear on the licenses. E.g. jumps, throws, speed or endurance or a combination of these.

Event Group: There are five event groups. Sprints, Endurance, Jumps, Throws and Multi-Events.

Event Specialist (development stage): Once the athlete is reaching full maturity, they are likely to begin specializing in a single or two closely related events (shot and discus, long jump and triple jump). If athletes have gone through a suitable progression from multi-sport to multi-event to event group they will have acquired a strong foundation in terms of conditioning and run, jump and throw skills from which they can now draw upon to improve performance in their favored events.

Event-Group (development stage): Around the age of 15-16 athletes will probably begin focus on a specific event group (sprints, endurance, jumps, throws or multi events) as they realize where their potential and interests lie. At this point, athletes should focus on a range of events within an event group as this will enable them to develop a good all round event group specific conditioning and co-ordination base.

Foundation (development stage): From the ages of around 12 – 16 young athletes should be exposed to a range of athletics events across as many event groups (running, jumping, throwing) as possible. At this stage in their development it is very difficult to predict what event or even event group the athletes may be best suited to when they are fully mature. Furthermore, as a fully mature athlete, regardless of the event, their training will to some degree involve a variety of running jumping and throwing activities and so a background in a range of events will provide a solid foundation for the future.

FUNdamentals (development stage): Until about twelve, all children should ideally be engaged in multiple sports with little specific focus on one over the other. This coincides with the period of rapid skill acquisition for both boys and girls, where the broadest range of sports possible will allow the young athletes to quickly pick up all of the fundamental movement patterns required for training in the future.

Leader in Running Fitness (LiRF): Should work from session plans or task cards. This is not a coaching role. LiRF are qualified to lead sessions to athletes ages 12 years and older and can take a group of runners unassisted for a run. If leading athletes below this age, supervision from a qualified coach is required.

Licensed Coach: Someone who has completed a coaching role qualification and has a police records check (DBS) that is no more than 3 years old.

Off Track: Refers to non-track based activities such as road running, cross country and multi terrain events.

On Track: Refers to track based activities.

Supervising Coach: Should supervise Coaching Assistants during session delivery and discuss the allocation of session units with Coaching Assistants.

Supervision: An assistant or coach is considered to be under supervision providing the said person has been told what to or has agreed what the licensed coach should do. A licensed coach must be present at the venue.