Become A Coach


The key to improving athlete performance and well-being is based on the quality of sport training and experiences provided by the local Special Olympics coach. “Coach” refers to an individual who assumes responsibility for athletes, actively trains athletes, and coaches them in competitions.

Coach Education Program

The Special Olympics Indiana (SO Indiana) Coach Education Program adheres to the basic standards and competencies necessary and essential for being a Special Olympics coach, as defined by Special Olympics North America. Standardization of essential knowledge and coaching proficiency adds credibility and consistency to the entire program. In addition, coaches will gain new and/or improved competencies and skills, which will provide better opportunities for their athletes.

After all, the better the coach . . . the better the athlete!

The SO Indiana Coach Education Program is based on:

  1. Athlete safety is the coach’s top priority.
  2. As outlined in the Special Olympics Founding Principles: “Consistent training under the guidance of qualified coaches, with emphasis on physical conditioning, is essential to the development of sports skills, and competition among those of equal abilities is the most appropriate means of testing these skills, measuring progress and providing incentives for personal growth.”
  3. Also from the Special Olympics Founding Principles: “Special Olympics celebrates and strives to promote the spirit of sportsmanship and a love of participation in sports for its own sake.”
  4. Special Olympics coaches not only provide skills training for athletes, but are also role models and character builders. Coaches give SO athletes the most immediate awareness of their own worth, ability, courage and capacity to grow and improve.
  5. An effective coaches’ education program, which advances both coach and athlete, must include subjects beyond sport-specific material. It must include topics of safety, health, injury prevention, nutrition, general physical fitness, sportsmanship, character development and coaching philosophy.
  6. Online courses are the preferred method of learning. Standardization of content is insured through online courses. Necessary competencies are reviewed through these online courses. Coaches have limited time and are already donating many hours to their athletes. Online courses are more “user-friendly”, allowing coaches to take courses when their time allows. Online courses allow users to stop and resume learning without losing progress.

Levels & Requirements

The following section lists the required coaching courses to achieve each level. However, courses do not need to be taken in any particular order. Also coaches may take courses in any Level. However, all requirements for Level 1 must be met before a coach may work with Special Olympics athletes.


Level 1 Coach Certification is obtaining Class A Volunteer status – the minimum requirement for any coach.

  • Coach / Volunteer Application
  • Background Screening
  • Coach / Volunteer Orientation (CVO)
  • Protective Behaviors Training
  • Concussion Awareness Training

If you are not a coach, but would like to become one, click here to start the Level 1 (Class A) certification process.


For coaches to achieve Level 2 certification, he/she must have Level 1 certification (Class A status) and complete the following 4 courses.

  • Coaching Special Olympics Athletes (from Human Kinetics Coach Education Center)
  • Coaching Unified Sports (from the NFHS Learning Center)
  • Sports Nutrition (from the NFHS Learning Center)
  • Sportsmanship (from the NFHS Learning Center)


For coaches to achieve Level 3 certification, he/she must have Level 2 certification and complete the following 4 courses. All 4 courses are from the NFHS Learning Center.

  • Fundamentals of Coaching
  • Concussion in Sports
  • Creating a Safe and Respectful Environment
  • Heat Illness Prevention

Additional levels and courses to be added at a later time.

For more information about how to become a coach or for questions about the Coach Education Program, call the Special Olympics Indiana State Office at (317) 328-2000.