Coach Education FAQs

What is the difference between assistant and coach roles?

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.


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.


The ‘Coach’ role is designed to allow those who wish to dedicate themselves to practising 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 6-12 months 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.

How does the 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 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 hold Athletics Coach pre-April 2018 (and pre the introduction of event specific technical days), your Licence conditions will stay as they were. If you wish to add Pole Vault, Hammer or Discus to your Licence and insurance, then you will need to take part in the technical elective days of this course, which have replaced the add-on modules (for example days 3 and 4 Jumps or days 3 and 4 throws).

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.

I am currently a Level 1 coach, what are my options?

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.

I am currently a Level 2 coach, what are my options?

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.

I am currently a Level 3 or 4 coach, what are my options?

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. The Home Country Federations also have fantastic Continued Personal Development opportunities they can take part in.

What happened to the old Level 1, 2, 3 & 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 by linking on the links ‘On Track Route’ & ‘Off Track Route’ near the top of this page.

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 any 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, 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 UK Licence terms and conditions associated with them.

Why the change from the ‘level system’ to this new role 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 in 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 My Learning both pre and post course.

I haven’t held a valid licence for over 6 years, is my qualification still valid with a renewal of my DBS?

Any coach who lets their police check (DBS, Disclosure Scotland or Access NI) lapse for two renewals, will have to re- enter the Coach Education pathway (please contact in order to commence the process) or apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) rather than be automatically granted a licence on application.