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Recruit Club Members: Coaches
Your club relies on COACHES to deliver programming and activities. Coaches are role models and revealers of character. Special Olympics coaches go even further, they help athletes with intellectual disabilities find their strengths, develop sports skills, improve abilities and sports performance. A potential COACH doesn’t have to have previous experience working with Special Olympics or people with intellectual disabilities.

Step 1: Coach Recruitment

Find motivated people willing to devote time to training and developing athletes in your club.

A coach may be:
  • a teacher
  • a family member
  • a general Special Olympics volunteer
  • someone with previous coaching experience
  • someone passionate about inclusion & empowering others
While previous coaching and sport experience is a plus, it is NOT a requirement


Partner with youth sports organizations and professional sports clubs.

Target special and physical education, kinesiology of sport programs students.

Recruit current or former school coaches.

Recruit family members.

Reach out to special education and physical education teachers.

Step 2: Coaching Registration

Always Look to Recruit More Coaches

Provide Development Opportunities

Recognize Them and Show Your Appreciation


Check with your National/State Program for guidance on minimum coach training requirement. Think about ways to provide ongoing coach education, training and development. The better the coach, the better the athlete sport experience, the more impact your club will have.

Minimum coach training should include:

Sports-specific training

Intro to Special Olympics

Working with people with ID

It’s as simple as 1 – 2 – 3!

It’s not really. That’s why we’ve provided a more detailed walk through in the next pages…
Special Olympics Coaches are the heartbeat of our movement. Without coaches, we have no sports programs. Recruiting and training a team of quality coaches is the best thing you can do to attract and retain club members—here are the top 3 things to help your club make this happen.

Always look to recruit more coaches

Constantly be on the lookout for coaches. They can ‘sub’ into sessions or even pair or team-coach with others, so you have a group of involved people developing together.

Provide support and development opportunities

Provide coaches with equipment, resources, and uniforms. Invite head coaches to join club meetings to share updates on specific programs or initiatives and seek their input into club operations

Provide regular learning and development opportunities. Ongoing coach education is important for retention, athlete experiences and sustainability of your club.

Recognize them and show your appreciation

Make sure to recognize the vital importance of coaches’ role on your club and Special Olympics movement. Expressing your gratitude and showing the impact coaches make on athletes in your club will go the long way. It will hopefully encourage them to further develop their knowledge and skills.

It’s as simple as 1 – 2 – 3!

It’s not really. That’s why we’ve provided a more detailed walk through in the next pages…

Putting it into practice…

Always look to recruit more coaches


    • What kind of coach are you looking for?
    • Where does the club start to look?


    • Make sure your requirements are clear before starting.
    • The starting point may be people who are already in your club or coaching in a mainstream club.
    • Connect with other clubs and sport federations.


  • Look at schools, universities, and mainstream sport clubs. Advertising positions on social media is also a good way to source coaches.

Provide development opportunities


      • What are the goals of your club coaches?
      • How can your club help their development?


      • Formal development: help them access Special Olympics or national sport federation modules, courses, and qualifications.
      • Informal development: mentoring, on-the-field training opportunities.


    • There are many development options to suit coaches of all aspirations. Ask your coaches and design a development plan with them.

    Recognize them and show your appreciation


    • How can the club recognize the effort of coaches?


      • Highlight and celebrate coaches in the club newsletters and on social media.
      • Thank the coaches for their effort and share stories of impact they are making.
      • Hold fun team building activities.


    • Recognize the difference your coaches make regularly. Make a plan to consistently thank them through the year.

    Where to Find More Help

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    Become a Special Olympics Coach

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    Special Olympics Online Coach Education

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    SO Learn Courses (requires free registration)

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    The Role of the Coach: Resource Playbook


    1. Connect with mainstream sports clubs in your community for support and guidance.
    2. Encourage your coaches to stay up-to-date on their specific sport trends and latest developments in addition to Special Olympics resources.
    3. Talk to your current coaches and use them as a resource to retain and grow your club coaches.
    4. Connect with other Special Olympics clubs for advice, support and help.


    Find a Special Olympics National/State Program Near You

    About Special Olympics