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UK Coaching and Women in Sport
Females Coach Developer

Women and Informal Sports Participation: Creating a Suitable Workforce

The final part in our series of three guides produced in association with Women in Sport looks at how to create an appropriate workforce to lead participants in a safe and enjoyable way

Previously, we have focused on women's motivations for taking part in sport and physical activity, the appeal of informal sports settings, the importance of understanding the individuals and groups you are targeting and how best to attract and retain participants.

Once the appropriate participant groups have been identified, it is up to governing bodies of sport to ensure they have the appropriate workforce in place too, and this final guide – aimed specifically at those involved in the development of coaching workforces – centres on how to identify and recruit suitable coaches.

First, a quick reminder for sports developers of what an appropriate workforce looks like:


Regular long-term commitment to coaching and participants; likely to lead a session; usually connected to one sport; experienced; qualified.

Assistant coach:

Regular coaching usually with other coaches; often younger or a parent; qualified.

Session leader/coordinator:

Leading more one-off sessions; usually multiple sports; no formal coaching qualifications.


Supporters of a session who have an awareness of the programme being rolled out but do not necessarily have any formal coaching or leadership qualification.

Coach mentor:

Supporting the development of a coach.

Leisure centre or ‘franchisee’:

Session venue is franchised out to local authority or community venue staff.

Governing body of sport regional support officer:

Regional coordinator of the programme available to support local programme deliverers.

  1. What qualification do you feel is necessary for a coach to possess for coaching adult participants? Consider how this could depend on the:
  • participants: are they beginners, returners or highly experienced sportspeople who just want to play sport at a lower level?
  • setting: informal pay and play; term/season-long training sessions.
  1. What skills and attitudes are needed to lead such a session?
  2. Are there minimum standards of deployment for coaches that have been set by national governing bodies of sport for their specific participation programme?
  3. The research has recognised that experience is valued potentially higher than qualifications by participants. Consider the importance of the level of experience in:
  • playing the game
  • coaching differing levels of ability.
  1. How many coaches will you need to roll this programme out?
  2. Do you have enough coaches trained to that level? If not, how will you manage the process of upskilling?
  3. Would you look to develop a new unit of continuing personal development (CPD) around coaching this specific population?
  4. What level of interest are you expecting from participants? Will you need to bring in support for the coaches?

  1. Are your coaches aware of how to support the needs of disabled people at the session?
  2. Will the sessions need a separate coordinator (eg to take payment, book the venue, take participant contact details)?
  3. What information/process have you put in place to recruit new coaches from within the sessions, if they are interested?
  4. What information/process do you have in place to progress talented players through a development pathway, should they wish to be?
  5. Do you have a method of monitoring and evaluating the overall programme?
  6. What plans do you have in place to measure the impact of the programme?
  7. From your research findings, which areas would be best to locate these sessions?
  8. Are the people leading the sessions able to support participants around minor injury issues and advise on injury prevention?
  1. Use people who have a great passion and enthusiasm for the sport to lead the session.
  2. Whoever leads the session should lead the warm-up and cool-down, be aware of the contact a new participant has had with the sport and have a rough guide to their fitness levels.
  3. The session leader should be happy to facilitate a social approach to playing and provide time for this to happen.
  4. The session leader should be prepared to book the venue and take the payments, if relevant.
  5. Informal participation sessions will require few or no coaching drills. Developing technique and strategy should be introduced as requested by the participants.
  6. Be led by the participants and ensure an open dialogue between the participants and the coach/leader.
  7. The coach must be organised, turn up on time and ensure he/she is fully equipped to cater for the needs of the entire session.
  8. Use social media.

Related Resources

  • Igniting Women's Coaching: A Visit to Northern Namibia

  • Girls' Participation in Sport: When Does the Drop-off Begin?

  • Talking Talent: Selection for the Big Event


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UK Coaching and Women in Sport