Coach Classifications & Certification Policy

See also the Coach Certification F.A.Q.

Links to forms and training resources mentioned below are available on the coach information page.

The following document provides an overview of Special Olympics Vermont’s coaching requirements.  In addition, it outlines the roles of Head Coach, Assistant Coach, and Program Support and identifies the responsibilities and education requirements for each position. The criterion below is modeled after Special Olympics Inc. operating rules to provide athletes with highly trained coaches who can help them reach their goals and maximum potential.

Head Coach

All Special Olympics Vermont teams must be lead under the direction of at least one Certified Head Coach. A Head Coach is defined as the person involved in the direct instruction and training of athletes. They are responsible for overseeing Assistant Coaches, ensuring practices meet minimum SO training standards and pre-divisioning scores are accurately reported.

The criteria for achieving Certified Head Coach status include:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age or older
  • Complete the Class A volunteer form (criminal background check and online protective behaviors)
  • Review Special Olympics Vermont General Orientation
  • Complete “Concussion in Sports” training
  • Complete the “Coaching Special Olympics Athletes” course
  • Complete sport specific training for respective discipline
  • Complete “Coaching Special Olympics Unified Sports” training – Unified programs only

Head Coach Notes & Certification Renewals:

  • Class A volunteer forms and online protective behaviors training must be completed before beginning practice and renewed every 3 years
  • Concussion Training must be completed before beginning practice and renewed every 2 years
  • For new coaches, the “Coaching Special Olympics Athletes” & “Coaching Special Olympics Unified Sports” training course can be taken concurrently during the sports season but must be completed prior to registering a team for competition
  • Prior experience or knowledge may be approved in place of sport specific training on a case by case basis. Coaches must complete the Training Waiver Form to be reviewed by the SOVT office
  • Head Coaches must pursue and complete approved continuing education courses a minimum of every 3 years to maintain Certified Head Coach status, including completion of the “Principles of Coaching” course by their 6 year mark. Coaches must submit the Training Waiver Form to the SOVT office to document continuing education courses. Ongoing experience and education is important to the coach’s ability to continue providing the best instruction and increased opportunities for athletes
  • It is encouraged that a new Head Coach be mentored under an existing Head Coach
  • When a program has more than one team and when Assistant Coaches are involved, there must be a minimum of one Head Coach per two teams. i.e. Chittenden program has four basketball teams and all teams practice during the same time. In this case, Chittenden should have a minimum of two Certified Head Coaches with two Assistant Coaches helping to oversee the other teams

Assistant Coach

An Assistant Coach is defined as any person involved in the instruction and training of athletes. Assistant coaches play an equally important role in the betterment of our athletes and programs. Therefore, it is important that Assistant Coaches are well trained and sufficiently prepared to provide proper support and ensure safety for all athletes.

The criteria for becoming an Assistant Coach include:

  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Complete the Class A volunteer form (online protective behaviors and criminal background check if age 19+ )
  • Complete “Concussion in Sports” training

After one year of involvement:

  • Complete sport specific training for respective discipline
  • Complete the “Coaching Special Olympics Athletes” course
  • Complete “Coaching Special Olympics Unified Sports” training – Unified programs only

Assistant Coach Notes & Certification Renewals:

  • Class A volunteer forms and online protective behaviors training must be completed before beginning practice and renewed every 3 years
  • If an Assistant Coach turns 19 before the 3 year renewal, they will need to renew their Class A Certification following their birthday and submit to a criminal background check
  • Concussion Training must be completed before beginning practice and renewed every 2 years
  • Prior experience or knowledge may be approved in place of sport specific training on a case by case basis. Coaches must complete the Training Waiver Form to be reviewed by the SOVT office
  • Requirements are established for Assistant Coaches to achieve Certified Head Coach status after one year of involvement, even if their title is still Assistant Coach
  • During their second year of involvement, Assistant Coaches may take the “Coaching Special Olympics Athletes” & “Coaching Special Olympics Unified Sports” concurrently during the sports season but must complete prior to the team’s registration for competition
  • Assistant Coaches are encouraged to take continuing education courses every 3 years

Program Support

A Program Support individual is defined as any person who has regular, close physical contact with athletes. They are responsible for a lot of behind the scenes work that leads to the overall success of any program. Program Support individuals are NOT involved in the instruction and training of athletes, but may be in a supervisory position or be an authority figure for athletes. Roles may include, but are not limited to: providing team transportation, one-on-one supervision or support outside of sport instruction, assistance running fundraisers and handling program funds, accompanying a team to competition as a chaperone, etc.

The criteria for Program Support individuals include:

  • Complete the Class A volunteer form (criminal background check if age 19+ and online protective behaviors if age 16+)

Recommended Trainings:

  • “Concussion in Sports” training
  • “Coaching Special Olympics Athletes” course

Program Support Notes & Certification Renewals:

  • Class A volunteer forms and online protective behaviors training must be completed before participating and renewed every 3 years
  • If a Program Support individual turns 19 before the 3 year renewal, they need to renew their Class A Certification following their birthday and submit to a criminal background check
  • If a Program Support individual turns 16 before the 3 year renewal, they need to complete the Online Protective Behaviors training following their birthday

Recreational Sport Coach (Unified Recreational Programs)

Unified Sports Recreation is an inclusive recreation sports event for Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners. Individuals participating in Unified Recreational programs are not required to meet the minimum training, competition and team composition requirements defined by Special Olympics rules, but they must be implemented in direct partnership with a Special Olympics Program. These opportunities may take place within schools, clubs, communities and other private or public organizations.

All Recreational Sport programs must have at least one Recreational Sport Coach on site during all training and competition sessions. It is recommended that 2 – 5 individuals from any one program become certified. In the event a Certified Coach cannot be on-site, the event and or practice must be cancelled.

The criteria for becoming a Certified Recreation Sport Coach include:

  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Complete the Class A volunteer form (online protective behaviors criminal background check if age 19+)
  • Complete “Concussion in Sports” training
  • “Coaching Special Olympics Unified Sports” (Recommended)

The criteria for becoming a Unified Recreational Sport volunteer or partner:

  • Complete the Class A volunteer form (criminal background check if age 19+ and online protective behaviors if age 16+)

Recreation Sport Coach Notes & Certification Renewals:

  • Class A volunteer forms and online protective behaviors training must be completed before participating and renewed every 3 years
  • Concussion Training must be completed before beginning practice and renewed every 2 years
  • If a Recreational Sport Coach turns 19 before the 3 year renewal, they need to renew their Class A Certification following their birthday and submit to a criminal background check
  • If a Recreation Sport Coach turns 16 before the 3 year renewal, they need to complete the Online Protective Behaviors training following their birthday.