Why Become A Special Olympics Certified Coach?

A Positive Sport Experience Starts With The Coach

Coaches have the greatest opportunity to create positive change in Special Olympics athletes, because they are the ones who work with athletes on a consistent basis. Good coaches know that learning to play a sport is more than just mastering skills associated with the sport – it takes teamwork, commitment, sacrifice, and dedication. These are qualities that Special Olympics coaches work to instill in their athletes, with the understanding that these lessons can have a positive impact on the athletes’ lives outside of sports. The second reason is that it is a requirement.

You as a Special Olympics coach will become role models and character builders. Coaches help our athletes discover their physical skills, their self-worth, their human courage, and their capacity to grow. Being a Special Olympics coach is one of the most important and rewarding volunteer roles.


  • Assist athletes in learning sports skills and applying them in competitions.
  • Encourage confidence and self-esteem through sport.
  • Obtain equipment for athletic training.
  • Help to recruit athletes and assistant coaches.
  • Register athletes for competitions.
  • Know and share the mission of Special Olympics in your community
  • Most importantly HAVE FUN!


  1. Become an approved Class “A” Volunteer.
    • Visit the Next Steps page to find the requirements for becoming a Class “A” Volunteer
  2. Complete the online course titled “Coaching Special Olympics Athletes
    • This course is provided to Special Olympics by the American Sport Education Program online. Coaches will develop a better understanding of how people with intellectual disabilities learn and how they participate in sports. The course offers an overview of the coaching principles and successful techniques involved in working with Special Olympics athletes, as well as practical ideas that can be used during coaching. This course is offered at the cost of $16.95 paid directly to the American Sport Education Program website. (**cheaper than having to drive to a location held course)


  • To become a certified coach, a coach must achieve certification by the conclusion of his/her second season of coaching Special Olympic athletes.
  • Each Special Olympics Kentucky coach must become certified under each sport they coach by way of completing the SOKY Sport-Specific Skills Course or providing achieved sport-specific credentials.
  • Any coach who coaches Unified Sports must complete the Unified Sports Course. This course is also available online by clicking here.
  • Head and Assistant Coaches will be required to complete the Level 2 Principles of Coaching Course to renew their certifications once level one certification has been achieved and the Coaching Special Olympics Athlete course is completed.
    • Principles of Coaching course offered through West Virginia University-Continuing Education is a non-sport specific course that seeks to expand more on sports sciences.  It addresses the basic principles of coaching and by completing the course, you will learn to:
      • Develop an understanding of Special Olympics and identify a coaching philosophy.
      • Apply the sport management team approach in recruiting athletes, volunteers, and family members and in developing training plans for conducting sport-specific training programs for Special Olympics athletes.
      • Identify practical methods for enhancing Special Olympics athlete performance by developing sport confidence through effective coaching techniques.
      • Apply the principles of strength, endurance, coordination, agility and flexibility training and nutrition to enhance sport-specific performance as they apply to the Special Olympics athlete.
      • Provide the safest environment for Special Olympics athletes during training and competition.
    • This course has been offered to us at an extremely generous rate of $35.

Once the above certifications have been completed and are current a coach may renew his/her certification by completing one of the following continuing education courses every three years.

  • SOKY Sport-specific Skills Course
  • Coaching Special Olympic Athletes Course (Online)
  • Coaching Unified Sports Course (Online)
  • Special Olympics Tactics Course
  • Special Olympics Mentoring Program
  • First-Aid and CPR certification Course
  • SOKY Sport-specific Skills Course
  • Coaching Special Olympic Athletes Course (Online)
  • Coaching Unified Sports Course (Online)
  • Special Olympics Tactics Course
  • Special Olympics Mentoring Program
  • First-Aid and CPR certification Course


For Questions or More Information Contact:
Justin Harville
Volunteer Services Director

Permanent link to this article: http://soky.org/coachcertification/