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21 March 2018

What is the British Athletics ‘Athlete to Coach’ Programme?

The British Athletics Athlete to Coach Programme is a pilot programme aimed encouraging retired and current elite athletes to become licenced coaches. With many athletes possessing a high level of technical expertise in their own area during their career, the course aims to acknowledge and complement this prior learning, then add to and build on it.

Is the Programme just a short-cut to the usual coaching qualifications?

No – the Programme is an approach that will give elite athletes a chance to learn and an opportunity to then prove their competence the same as any other coach going through the British Athletics Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach Courses. 

Because the Programme is aimed at retired or current athletes, it must be free?

No – everyone who signs up for the Programme pilot will have to pay the required fee just as anyone wishing to complete the British Athletics Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach Courses would.

How long will the Programme take to complete, is it shorter than the Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach Courses?

No – the Programme will take the same amount of time. The pilot will start with two separate six-day courses in Birmingham and in Loughborough respectively, spread across nine months, beginning in March and ending with a final assessment in November. At this day the developing coach will be assessed by a UKA assessor against the competence criteria required to be a UKA Licenced Athletics Coach. Merely attending the Programme will not automatically lead to earning a qualification and licence, attendees must also pass the assessment.

What is different between the Programme and the Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach Courses?

The Programme has been designed to cover the content and competency requirements of the British Athletics Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach Courses in a manner that meets the needs of athletes with technical and tactical knowledge of their event. So for example, one of the key differences will be the emphasis on challenging participants to shift their thinking from that of an elite athlete to one of a coach. The Programme will be delivered in classroom and practical settings with coaches expected to practice and reflect on content covered between the timetabled days with the support of a qualified coach.

Is there any guarantee of work once the Programme has been complete?

No – this opportunity does not link to any jobs or roles. It enables athletes to gain the ‘base-line’ coaching qualifications so they can coach safely – within clubs or elsewhere – and continue the learning journey that coaching is. In coaching, the learning never stops.

Will athletes who qualify through this route be better qualified coaches than others?

Those who complete the Athlete to Coach Programme pilot will prove they have the competence to be qualified and licenced as ‘Athletics Coaches’ – the same standard as the thousands of excellent coaches already holding that qualification and licence across the UK. This is a ‘base-line’ qualification- every coach who qualifies at this level should recognise. They then have much to learn – experience, CPD, learning from others – but it is the place to start.

Why the focus on retired or current athletes and nobody else?

The demand is there from retired or current athletes and we haven’t offered bespoke courses for this group in recent times. If this approach enables a group of elite athletes to be qualified to coach and put something back into the sport – at whatever level they feel is appropriate – the sport as a whole should benefit. We will also look at other groups based on demand and see if our course delivery could be adapted – maintaining the same standards – to suit those other groups better than our established approach.

Is this reducing the opportunities through established courses? 

No – this pilot is additional to established courses that are available and open to all. Athletes can sign up to any course they wish, not just the Athlete to Coach Programme. The Programme is an approach for a particular cohort of elite athletes – we will undoubtedly learn from the pilot and refine what we offer in the future as a result.