Coaches have a key role to play in our changing society, given the growing social aspect of their everyday work. Developing soft skills and transmitting values are now part of their role, which is no longer solely based on sporting achievements. In order society maximally benefit from coaches’ work, their profession should become a recognised and valued job.
The coaching domain includes all types of sport coaches, from ‘traditional’ team and individual sport coaches, to sport instructors, fitness instructors and personal trainers, working both as professionals receiving a salary as well as on a voluntary basis. All these categories together form one of the largest workforces in Europe. However, the majority of coaches hold a low level qualification or no qualification at all and their practice is not recognised nor rewarded. The coaching profession is also facing some challenges nowadays. Greater diversity in society, threats to the integrity of sport, as well as changes in technologies and in employment, all have an impact on the daily work of coaches and should be taken into account when reflecting on the competences they need.
The recognition of coaching as a bona fide profession and of coaches’ competences is still uneven in EU Member States. The majority of them recognise the profession or the attainment of minimum requirements, but some still do not have any mechanism or framework in place. In addition to teaching the technical and tactical elements of the sport or physical activity, coaches are also accountable for ensuring they conduct their practice in a safe and ethical manner for the benefit of the participant or athlete.
In light of the above and regardless of their employment status or domain they operate in, any person acting as a coach needs to have appropriate competences, especially when working with young people, children, vulnerable adults or populations with special needs. Moreover, the broader role of today’s coaches should be promoted, to recognise that a coach communicates positive values to society, teaches life transferrable skills and contributes to solving societal challenges, such as wellbeing, health and integration.
To be able to fulfil this complex role, coaches will benefit from access to blended learning methods, as well as different learning opportunities, including formal, non-formal and informal coach education.
Finally, a coach’s education should not stop once the minimum requirements have been achieved. In a changing society, there is a need for the continued improvement of coaches’ competences and skills. Therefore, a lifelong learning approach should be encouraged. Coaches must have the opportunity to obtain and upgrade professional qualifications.
Consequently, the goal of this document, is to propose a common minimum set of competences for coaches in Europe. The guidelines are therefore suggesting improvements in the education/training modules and courses of coaches as well as outline core competences a coach should possess in order to be considered as such. This document is addressed predominantly to the coach education providers. In addition, it also targets directly or indirectly policy makers, public authorities, sport organisations and education institutions.