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Coaching Disabled People: What Coaches Need to know

All coaches should be able to welcome disabled people into their club sessions. However, what does that mean in practice? What can you do to ensure this is the case?

sports coach UK asked the same question. So we commissioned Leeds Metropolitan University to do some research on what disabled people’s experiences of sport and being coached are.

We then took this research the findings to produce Coaching Disabled People: What Coaches Need to know Among the points raised by this infosheet are:

  • Positive lessons to learn
  • Stop being so negative!
  • What disabled people want to see from the start of your session
  • What you can do during your session
  • and how you can develop further as an inclusive coach

It will make you realise coaching disabled people isn’t all about Paralympians or coaching a room full of disabled people. Disabled people should feel as comfortable going to ‘mainstream’ sessions as every other player. They might just need a bit more encouragement and confidence. Surely you can do that?

The research saw 14 people from all levels of sport interviewed – from club level right up to Paralympians. We wanted to understand what they thought makes a good coach and what coaches could do better. The findings were not earth shattering but the report The Coaching Chain: Reflections of disabled athletes and coaches is also well worth a read as it contains quotes from the survey respondents themselves.

“I go to disability sport football training and then I’m also at a local able-bodied club. For me this works, I get to play more, I get to play with very different people, I get challenged, I get different coach support. So, this works for me. The local club used to be a bit hit and miss but we’ve got a regular coach now and he’s got used to me. He was pretty nervous about having to coach me I could tell....” (John)

“I loved PE at school but I always felt like the teachers’ didn’t love me! Well, it was my favourite subject but I pretty much felt ignored. I had a tough time convincing the teachers I could do everything in PE. They got it in the end but I had to battle with them and I don’t think that's the way it should be anymore.” (Mary)