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Coaching Resources

Some prospective Special Olympics coaches have coaching experience; some don’t. Some have experience with individuals with intellectual disabilities, some don’t. A coach may be a teacher, family member, a volunteer from other areas of Special Olympics, or someone simply charged up to change others’ lives and their own! 

Steps to Becoming a Coach

To become a Certified Special Olympics Coach, follow these steps.

  • First get in touch with a nearby Special Olympics office.
  • Attend a General Orientation as a basic introduction to Special Olympics
  • Attend an approved second course covering a specific sport, aspects of coaching individuals with intellectual disabilities, or other coaching tactics
  • Complete 10 hours of working with Special Olympics athletes under an experienced coach; and
  • Complete the Special Olympics Application for Sports Training Certification and submit it to the Local Special Olympics Program.
  • Complete the training program for Protective Behaviors and submit confirmation of completion to the Local Special Olympics Program (U.S. only).

Local programs conduct these courses throughout the year, and can help any interested volunteer find the courses to best meet their needs. Click here to use the Program Locator. 

Education Resources

Special Olympics provides our volunteer coaches with the basic principles, techniques and tools to effectively coach Special Olympics athletes. Coaches education is necessary and mandatory. Our athletes deserve the most knowledgeable coaches who are trained, who can access sport-specific coaching guides and rules, who provide the safest environment in which to train and compete and who receive ongoing education. Click below for resources and online courses that support Special Olympics coaching education.

Coaching Special Olympics Athletes course, offered by America Sport Education Program (ASEP)

Principles of Coaching for Special Olympics Course

Coaching Special Olympics Unified Sports course, offered by National Federation of High School Sports Associations  

Resources Online

Special Olympics offers a comprehensive set of Coaching Guides in each sport, Competition Guides, and the Special Olympics Summer and Winter Rules Book are available in print and online in several languages. For an overview of resources for each sport, check out our Sports and Games Center.

Code of Conduct

Special Olympics is committed to the highest ideals of sport and expects all coaches to honor sport and Special Olympics. All Special Olympics coaches agree to observe a code of conduct.

Code of Conduct

How to Get Involved in Special Olympics

Special Olympics sports training, coaching and competitions go on in more than 170 countries around the world. You can get involved by getting in touch with the closest Special Olympics office.

Special Olympics near you»

Made Possible by The Annenberg Foundation

The Special Olympics movement is profoundly grateful for the support of the Annenberg Foundation which has underwritten the production of the coaches’ guides and resources, supporting our global goals for coaches’ excellence.


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Special Olympics Blog

The Start of the Solution

Young people from around the globe with and without intellectual disabilities are coming together at the SOGenUin Summit as part of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games with one goal - to change the world.


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Posted on 2015-07-23 by Natalie

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