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National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Coaching

By Anne Baker, sports coach UK Coach Education Advisor

A large group of people from Governing Bodies and other sectors in sport such as the Home Countries, those representing schools, Leadership, County Sports Partnerships and private providers have reviewed these standards and changed them quite radically to strip out the detail and ensure they are based on what coaches do Plan Do and Review

What do these mean to me as a coach?

The NOS define the roles (job) of the coach. There are a set of standards set against what coaches should do ‘performance criteria’ – and a set of ‘knowledge criteria’ which highlights what a coach should know to be a coach.

These standards are a reference point from which qualifications can be developed but can also be used for Continued Professional Development (CPD) employment, job descriptions and appraisal.

Why will this be important in sports coaching?

Coaching is becoming more of a profession and small number of coaches are now fully employed coaching across a range of sports and a large number of coaches are employed with honorariums and hourly fees. The recent Government funding to Primary Schools has shown an increase in paid coaches in Primary Schools. More coaches are making coaching their career.

How are qualifications like level 1 and 2 developed?

The NOS have those roles required by coaches set out such as those for level 2 under:


  • identify the  overall session aims
  • select and plan activities that will help the participants achieve their aims for skill acquisition
  • plan activities for each session that will motivate the participants and achieve the planned goals.


  • provide technical explanations and demonstrations that meet the needs of the participant
  • observe and analyse the participants' performance
  • provide  the participantswithfeedback on their performance


  • collate evidence to support the review of the sports coaching sessions
  • identify how to improve the planning and delivery of future coaching sessions for participants and self

Each sport will then write detailed qualifications around these standards in the context of the sport such as netball, badminton and rugby

If I want to coach in an after school club, satellite club or sports club will the NOS help?

Yes schools require evidence that you have qualified to the required standard to deliver independently in the school or club. This is usually level 2 because the standards that have been used to write this show all the necessary skills you must have and the knowledge that goes with those skills to coach a group on your own.

Level 1 standards are similar but are all about how to assist a more qualified coach

Standards used to write a level 3 and more about designing and managing a programme and this can be for a sport in a senior club setting, junior club setting, talent, recreation or any form of participation such as a sports summer camp

The proof that as a coach you meet these standards by holding a qualification and are insured, (hold a ‘Safeguarding and protecting vulnerable adults’ certificate and Disclosure and Barring check if coaching children) means you may meet the specification for that job description and any further experience and CPD that you may undertake may mean that you have more opportunities for employment or gaining voluntary roles as a coach.

Coaching has moved a long way forward with sports embracing qualifications in the last ten years and instead of a sport letting anyone deliver what they want they now adhere to these standards and a level 2 in every sport eg football, cricket and lacrosse is all based on these NOS. 


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