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Training Program Toolkit

1. About the training program toolkit


This toolkit has been designed to support NSOs develop their training programs.

Quality training programs are essential if NSOs want to recruit, train, support and retain their coach and official workforce.

Many NSOs have exceptional capacity when it comes to developing world-leading coach and official training programs. This toolkit can help these NSOs to continue to improve their programs and remain world-leading for many years to come.

The ASC receives many requests from NSOs seeking assistance to develop their training programs. This toolkit will help these NSOs build capacity within their organisations and effectively lead the development of their coaches and officials nationally, now and in the future.


This toolkit has been designed for NSOs to move through in a logical manner. Developing an effective coach and official training program can be a daunting task and the most difficult or confusing part can be knowing where to start. This toolkit takes the confusion out of the process and help NSOs develop the training programs they need.

2. Developing your NSO's training programs - the big picture!

Steps in developing a training program

There is a saying that ‘form follows function’. When thinking about designing a coach and official training program, you need to be clear about the program’s purpose (or function) before you start thinking about what form it will take (i.e. which modules or content to include, how it will be delivered and assessed, etc).

  1. Participants first! Who will the coaches or officials be working with?
    Be clear about the needs of the participants before you do anything else. You need to understand their stages of development, physical, technical, tactical and psycho-social characteristics and support needs, types of competition, etc. This should align with your NSO's Coach and Official Development Framework.
  2. Define the target of the training program and its purpose
    Who are the coaches and officials supported by the training program and what skills do they need and want? This should align with your NSO's Coach and Official Development Framework.
  3. Identify what the coaches and officials need to be able to do
    Develop competency statements. Competency statements are broad descriptions of the primary functions of your coaches and officials operating in specified environments.
  4. Decide how you will measure the practical skills of coaches and officials
    Develop performance standards. Performance standards are measurable statements that describe the level of performance needed for a coach or official to demonstrate they have achieved the broad competency / competencies.
  5. Decide the best way for your coaches and officials to be assessed
    Develop user-friendly assessment tools with a focus on both assessment for learning, as well as assessment of learning.
  6. Decide how the training program should be delivered
    Choose the most effective delivery models and identify the delivery implications these will have. These could include face-to-face theory sessions, practical ‘in-situ’ coaching, e-learning (e.g. ASC Community Coach / Introductory Level Officiating courses), blended learning, modular delivery, integrated coaching principles or separate, mentoring, etc.
  7. Identify the key content topics and activities
    Find or develop relevant and engaging learning resources to help coaches and officials be ready to successfully complete assessment tasks.
  8. Identify how you will measure the impact the training program has on the learners
    How will you know if the training program is achieving its purpose?

3. What is the purpose of the training program?

Learning occurs where there is a need and the need has been accurately identified. People sometimes participate in training that is irrelevant to their interests, their skill sets, or the requirements of their coaching and officiating environments. When this happens, learning is unlikely to occur.

It is important to develop a coach and official training program that meets the identified needs of the learners (i.e. coaches and officials working with participants in specified stages of development and in specified environments). For example, a coach or official operating with ‘beginner’ level participants will need different skills than one operating in the high performance environment.
The following table is a sample approach of what you can do.

Training Program Title

Who will the training program participants (coaches and officials) be trained to work with?

Refer to your NSO’s participant map – ‘Know Your Participants’ — and identify the category of participants the coaches and officials will support.

Please provide a brief overview of the characteristics and needs of participants in this stage(s) of development.

Stage(s) of development

Participant characteristics
(e.g. physical, psycho-social, technical, tactical, etc.) and Participant needs.

Refer to Framework Toolkit for some examples.

What are the ideal attributes for coaches at this level?
Some examples for a foundation / community coach may include:

  • Nurture a love of sport and active recreation
  • Focus primarily on fun, participation and skill development
  • Understand the needs of young participants
  • Encourage participation in multiple sports and activities
  • Introduce the concept of fair play
  • Understand they create not only better young athletes, but better young people

Have a sense of working in a wider coaching community.

4. What do the coaches and officials need to be able to do?

What is a competency statement?

Competencies describe the primary functions of coaches and officials operating in specified environments. Now you have a sound understanding of your NSO’s participant map, you in a great position to identify (broadly speaking) what coaches and officials should be able to do. They will need to be able to effectively support the developmental needs of the participants they are coaching or officiating.

Remember, to develop the competencies for your sport you need to refer to your NSO’s participant map, understand the characteristics and needs of the participants in the relevant stage(s) of development and broadly articulate what coaches and officials need to be able to do to support these participants.

Another thing to remember when developing competency statements is ‘less is often more’. Keep them broad and don’t develop too many. For example a coach and official training program might only have five or six competency statements.

5. How will coach and official practical skills be measured?

Developing performance standards

Performance standards are measurable statements used to generate evidence about how a competency is displayed when the coach or official performs well on the job. These are used by assessors to measure a candidate's performance against each competency.

A simple way to think about performance standards is “if an assessor is looking to see if a coach or official demonstrates a competency, what will the assessor need to see happen to know the competency has been achieved?”

In the past, NSO’s training programs usually included a number of ‘learning outcomes’ for each module. NSOs are encouraged to incorporate performance standards into their training program instead of learning outcomes, because learning outcomes are often knowledge-based rather than performance-based. Performance standards refer specifically to what the coach or official will actually need to demonstrate in practical environments.

Performance standards are not about measuring what a training program participant knows, but are about seeing what they can do.

Benefits of having well-designed performance standards include:

  • Participants will know how they will be assessed.
  • Participants will see the relevance of the learning activities they engage in before they are assessed.
  • Participants will see that the focus of their training program is to develop their practical coaching and officiating skills, not their ability to recall information.
  • Participants will be aware of the performance expectations of coaches and officials operating in the specific environment (i.e. the types of behaviours the NSO expects them to exhibit after they complete the training program).
  • Assessors will be clear about how they are to measure the performances of participants during assessment (i.e. what they need to see the coach or official do).
  • NSOs will choose delivery models and assessment tasks and design learning resources in a manner which will most effectively help participants demonstrate the performance standards (and therefore be a skilled in their role).

An example of the relationship between a competency statement and performance standards

Competency Statement Performance Standards
Select and implement coaching methods and activities appropriate to participants in the foundation phase of development

The coaching sessions developed and delivered by the coach included the following:

  1. The opportunity for participants to experience a variety of activities within each session
  2. Rotation of roles – no specialisation in positions or events
  3. Frequent rest and hydration breaks
  4. Skill learning immersed in play and games
  5. Physical development through play and games
  6. Activities designed for both boys and girls to play together
  7. Modification of rules, field sizes and equipment
  8. A safe environment
  9. High levels of ‘on task’ involvement of all participants
  10. No fitness testing
  11. Activities that were progressive in intensity without the necessity of a specific warm-up
  12. Emphasis on success and cooperative games where everyone can enjoy a sense of achievement
  13. Positive support, a caring coaching approach, praise, affection and attention, to build participant confidence
  14. Activities that were demonstrated with simple, limited verbal instructions
  15. Exploration of winning/losing concepts
  16. Opportunity to explore, question and foster natural curiosity and imagination
  17. The opportunity for play, fun and interaction with others.

6. How will your training program participants be assessed?

Assessment should NOT be seen as a hoop that learners (and assessors) have to jump through or something that just has to be done to get a certificate. If this is how your assessments are perceived, then something is wrong.

Well-designed assessment tasks should...

  • be viewed by learners as activities they want to engage in, not something they ‘need’ to do to receive a qualification. Remember that your assessment tasks should focus on assessment for learning, not assessment of learning
  • allow assessors (and learners) to measure their performance in relation to the performance standards within your training program
  • allow multiple performance standards and sections of learning (e.g. modules) to be assessed in a single assessment task. This is known as ‘integrated assessment’
  • relate specifically to what the coach or official needs to be able to do AFTER they have completed the training program.

Review the number of performance standards to see how many are contained within the training program. How many assessment tasks do you think you will need to develop in order to assess all the performance standards? Remember, sometimes LESS is more!

Choosing the best method of assessment

There are many different assessment methods currently used by NSOs in their coach and official training programs: some are effective and some less so. Some are just there because they always have been. Some commonly used methods of assessment include:

  • completion of a workbook
  • completion of online assessment tasks
  • exam
  • research task / assignment
  • simulated coaching / officiating practical task (e.g. using fellow workshop participants as athletes)
  • on-the-job assessment (i.e. coaching or officiating in relevant environments)
  • interview / questioning
  • self-reflection.

Do any of your current training programs use an exam as a method of assessment? If so, could there be a better way?

When choosing the best assessment methods to use, there are three simple questions you can ask. Answer yes to the three questions below and you can be confident that the assessment method or task you have chosen is going to be effective.

  1. Will the assessment task collect direct evidence?
  2. Will the assessment task collect evidence which is valid, current, sufficient and authentic?
  3. Has integrated assessment been used optimally (i.e. why have seven assessment tasks when all performance standards could be assessed via three?)

What is direct evidence?

Evidence is the information which, when matched against performance standards, demonstrates a learner’s competence. There are three types of evidence which can be collected via assessment.


Direct evidence is the most accurate form of evidence. It is obtained when an assessor observes the coach or official’s actual performance in a real setting (e.g. on-the-job). Video footage of a candidate coaching or officiating in a real setting is classified as direct evidence.


Indirect evidence is used when it is not feasible to gather direct evidence (e.g. too costly, dangerous, time consuming). Role plays and simulated activities are classified as indirect evidence. First Aid courses are an example of when it is usually more appropriate to collect indirect evidence.


Supplementary evidence is the least reliable form of evidence. This involves the assessor inferring the candidate’s competence without having seen this demonstrated in a real or replicated environment. Common examples of supplementary evidence are CVs, references, letters of support, etc.

What is valid, current, sufficient and authentic evidence?


  • Addresses the relevant performance standards
  • Demonstrates relevant skills and knowledge in real or simulated situation


  • Demonstrates the candidate's current skills and knowledge (e.g. within the last 2–4 years)


  • Demonstrates competence that is repeated (e.g. 2–3 coaching sessions, not just one)


  • Is the work of the candidate

Assessment tool template

Purpose of assessment task

Competencies assessed
Note – one assessment task can align with multiple competency statements.
Performance standards assessed
Note – one assessment task can (and should) assess with multiple performance standards.
Method of assessment
Observation of performance in a real coaching or officiating environment (including video footage of performance)
Observation of performance in a simulated coaching or officiating environment

Interview / questioning / discussion

Completion of online assessment task

Completion of written / word processed task

Others (please outline below):

Conditions of assessment
In order for the candidate to have every chance of successfully completing the assessment, they will have access to:
NSO (and other) learning resources
NSO learning facilitator

NSO assessor

Computer / tablet device

A simulated coaching or officiating environment

A real and suitable coaching or officiating environment

A mentor

Others (please outline below):

Instructions to the candidate
A broad outline of what the coach or official will need to do to successfully complete the task (e.g. plan, deliver and review 2 x 1 hour coaching sessions designed to meet the needs of beginner level participants…

7. How will your training program be delivered?

How to choose the most effective delivery methods for your training program

Please re-visit your NSO participant map (Step 5 – Develop your learning strategy) and look over the broad delivery model your NSO plans to use for the training program.
Why does your NSO deliver its coach and official training program in the way it does? Is it because it’s always been done that way? Could there be a better way?
Right now is the chance for your NSO to really think about the best way to deliver the training program and the implications of this for your NSO and its delivery agencies.

Research suggests that coaches and officials learn best when:

  • their prior experiences and abilities are recognised and they are helped to reflect on and build on them
  • they are motivated to learn and find the relevant learning materials
  • they are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning
  • the climate is positive and supportive to minimise anxiety, encourage experimentation and challenge them appropriately
  • the way they like to learn is taken into account
  • they have plenty of opportunities to practise and apply the information to their own context
  • they are involved and engaged in their own learning
  • they experience some success and gain ongoing feedback that builds their self-confidence.

Source – Internal Council for Coaching Excellence (2012) - International Sports Coaching Framework

Your challenge is to choose coach and official training program delivery models that create positive learning environments and meet learners’ needs and motivations.
Before you can choose the best delivery methods for your NSO’s training program(s), the following issues need to be considered:

  • learning situations
  • delivery models
  • delivery implications

Learning situations

Formal learning is always organised and structured, and has specific learning objectives. From the learner’s standpoint, it is always intentional (i.e. the learner’s explicit objective is to gain knowledge, skills and/or competencies.

Non-formal learning is somewhat organised and can have or be linked to learning objectives. The advantage of non-formal learning lies in the fact that learning may occur at the initiative of the individual but also happens as a by-product of more organised activities, whether or not the activities themselves have learning objectives. In coaching and officiating, the context might include clinics, conferences, or seminars.

Informal learning refers to when coaches and officials initiate their own learning, choose what they want to learn and decide how they wish to learn it. Much of this learning is done on the job. Other examples of informal learning are reading a book, watching a DVD, watching another coach or official in action, and reflecting on prior experiences.

It is important to remember that your NSO’s coach and official training program can (and probably should) have all three of these learning situations embedded in its design.

If you are interested, visit the Sport Coach UK — Coach Tracking Study and formal versus informal coach education links to read about the pros and cons of formal and informal coach education. Note that research suggests that there is a growing shift for coaches to want to undertake more informal learning.

Recognising informal learning
Like a lot of NSOs, British Swimming realised the importance of informal learning in the development of coaches and officials, however they struggled to know how to integrate this into their formal coach and official accreditation programs.
The British Swimming Workforce Development Team did some research into a range of web-based learning systems which they could potentially use to recognise the informal learning experiences their coaches and officials were engaging in on a daily basis and the competencies they were developing as a result.
The team found a simple and inexpensive web-based learning system that allowed all of their currently accredited coaches and officials, and those enrolled in formal training programs, to upload information relating to the informal, non-formal and formal learning episodes, into what are known as e-portfolios.

“Instead of having to complete a formal assessment task in a workbook, I am now able to provide evidence of what I am learning in informal settings,” says Colin Huffen (level 3 coach candidate). “For example, last night after training, I had a coffee with another coach and we discussed how he has overcome issues his swimmers were having with repetitive strain injuries in the shoulders and knees. He put me in touch with the strength and conditioning coach he is using and also sent me the most recent recovery program he is using for his male freestyle swimmers (which is who I coach). This half an hour coffee developed my knowledge, skills and competencies in the area of injury prevention and management, more than any text book has in the past 10 years.”

In order for Colin to have this very valid evidence formally recognised against relevant performance standards in the British Swimming Level 3 coaching qualification, all he had to do was insert a short description of the chat he had with the other coach, what he learnt and how he was now applying this, into his e-portfolio (or upload a pod-cast / video recording of the chat). Colin also included the contact details of the strength and conditioning coach and the swimmer recovery program he developed following the chat, into his e-portfolio.
At any time during Colin’s Level 3 studies, his assessor can access his e-portfolio (Colin needs to give the assessor access) so relevant evidence obtained via informal learning episodes can be used to formally assess Colin against relevant Level 3 coach performance standards.

“This approach to learning and assessment is about me coaching and getting better, with the spin off being I am working towards my level 3 accreditation. I love it!”

Delivery models

There are lots of different ways that coach and official training programs can be delivered. Consider which delivery models will help the learners learn most and which are going to be feasible to implement across Australia. Some commonly used delivery models include:

  • face-to-face classroom sessions
  • mentor sessions
  • blended learning (a mixture of methods)
  • e-learning
  • on-the-job learning (in real coaching and officiating environments)
  • face-to-face practical workshops (i.e. largely simulated practical coaching and officiating environments.

Examples of an NSO’s coach training program delivery models:
Surf Lifesaving Australia – Foundation Coach Qualification Delivery and Assessment Methodology Outline

  • Completion of:
    - ASC's online Community Coach General Principles course
    - Introduction to Coaching Surf Sports eLearning Program (Surf Sports information for Foundations Coaches)
  • Participation in the Foundation Coach Practical Workshop
  • On-the-job Practical Coaching Assessment Note: Candidates who cannot access a qualified SLSA Foundations Coach Assessor to assess them in a practical environment (beach / board / swim), may provide video footage of their completion of these tasks to their course coordinator, who will arrange for a qualified assessor to assess the footage
  • Foundation Coach Accreditation
    Surf Lifesaving Australia – Performance Coach Qualification Delivery and Assessment Methodology Outline
  • Completion of:
    - Surf Sports Performance Coach eLearning resource (modules 1–4)
    - SLSA Coach Practical Workshop Presenter Program
    - SLSA Coach Assessor Program
    - ASADA On-line Level 1 Anti-Doping Course
    - SLSA Coach Mentor Program
    - a ‘discipline specific’ Performance Coach Surf Sport coaching eLearning resource
  • Participation in a ‘discipline specific’ Performance Coach Practical Workshop
  • Discipline specific Performance Coach on-the-job assessment
  • Performance Coach Accreditation

8. How should the training program content be organised?

Once you know the purpose of the training program, what the coach or official needs to be able to do, how they will be assessed, and the delivery models that will be used, you will be in a good position to know what information learners will need to be ready to complete the assessments. You will also need to think about how the learners will use information. Some questions you might like to ask include:
  • Which modules (or chunks of learning) should be included?
  • How much text, audio and / or visual information should be included?
  • What types of learning activities should be included, and how many?

When developing the learning resources for a training program, a key consideration is the preferred learning styles of the coaches or officials the training is designed for. Although you can’t know how every potential participant prefers to learn, you can assume that the majority of coaches and officials will prefer to learn via lots of visual and practical resources and activities. So what does this mean for the learning resources you are developing?

  • Have less text (most people prefer not to have to read lots of information)
  • Have more diagrams and pictures
  • Have more links to video clips
  • Have more questions and interactive activities

A simple learning resource development process which will be effective for learners with various preferred learning styles is presented below.

  1. Include a small amount of text (could be a podcast)
  2. Include a diagram or image
  3. Provide a link to an engaging video clip
  4. Include an interactive learning activity
  5. Repeat steps 1–4

Remember, apart from being a really interesting and engaging experience, the learning resources you develop need to prepare the learners for assessment (if you are developing training programs which incorporate assessment). Therefore, when deciding on modules, content and activities, think about how the learners will be assessed and make sure the content will help them successfully complete all assessment tasks.

9. How will you know if the purpose of your training program is being achieved?

Remember Section 3 of this toolkit —What is the purpose of the training program? This was the first step in designing your new training program and potentially the most important. Although most NSOs are quite clear about the purpose of each of their coach and official training programs, what many are not so clear about is how effectively this is being achieved.

If you refer to the ‘Know Your Workforce’ section of your NSO’s Coach and Official Development Framework, you will be aware of how many coaches and officials are required in different environments, and the types of participants and athletes they need to work with. Over time, it should be fairly simple for your NSO to measure its progress against these quantitative goals. However, measuring the impact of training programs should involve more than measuring numbers.

Apart from quantitative measures — numbers of trained coaches and officials — how does your NSO measure the impact that its training programs are having on the quality of coaching and officiating throughout Australia?

This section is designed to help you think about how your NSO (and your member organisations) will measure the impact your training programs are having on coach and official behaviour once they have completed a training program. This may be something your NSO is doing well, or it may be something that has been placed in the too hard basket. If the latter is the case, try some simple strategies, even if only with a small sample of coaches or officials to begin with. For example:

  • coach and official post training e-surveys (e.g. 6–12 months after the training)
  • coach and official post training interviews and / or focus group sessions (e.g. 6–12 months after the training)
  • coach and official online community forums
  • coach and official mentor feedback
  • participation in other coach and official development activities and training programs
  • re-accreditation statistics
  • player / athlete feedback mechanisms
  • behavioural analysis software.

Measuring the impact of coach and official training programs

Surf Lifesaving Australia coach and official e-survey

Surf Lifesaving Australia initiated two key independent reviews in 2012 —the Surf Sport Coach Development Framework Review and the Surf Sport Official Review. These reviews were comprehensive and designed to allow SLSA to make evidence-based decisions regarding the future of its coach and official development frameworks.

“The evidence collected during the reviews, especially that collected from our current (and past) coaches and officials, really motivated us all to make comprehensive change. In essence, the training programs were not doing what they were designed to do, i.e. they were not positively impacting on the post training behaviours of our coaches and officials in a significant way.

“Following the reviews, we now have a totally re-vamped, contemporary coach development framework and suite of coach training programs up and running. We also have a new official development framework and are currently working on the development and roll-out of the new officiating training programs.

“We knew we were doing the right thing (based on the evidence we collected), but we did expect some resistance to the changes. The fact of the matter is 99 per cent of our coaching and officiating communities have been nothing but excited and supportive of our new direction.” Sophie Tindle, SLSA Sport Development Manager 

British Swimming

British Swimming (like most UK NSOs) had a well-supported United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) registered coach accreditation system in place. The number of accredited coaches at all levels and in all environments rose year on year between the inception of the UKCC training programs in 2007 and 2010.
What British Swimming did not know, was how effective their UKCC training programs were in influencing coach behaviour. British Swimming used a software application called the Coach Analysis Intervention System (CAIS) to analyse the coaching behaviour of 25 randomly selected, qualified level 1 coaches before they underwent the Level 2 UKCC training program and then after they completed the Level 2 training program.

“We were a little nervous as we undertook the research using the CAIS software, because, to be honest, we spent of lot of time, effort and resources developing our Level 2 UKKC training program in 2007 and we
thought it was really good – but what if the Level 2 didn’t actually impact positively on coach behaviour after they completed the training? This would mean we had done a poor job and that was scary to contemplate.

“Following 12 months of research in 2011, the findings were in and although there were things we needed to improve, such as the use of more contemporary e-learning resources and tools and the need to focus a little more on the soft coaching skills in our Level 2 training program, we were happy to see that the competencies coaches were developing and demonstrating in the Level 2 training program were actually being demonstrated in the coach’s day-to-day practice. We were pretty pumped actually.” Ian Freeman, Coaching Systems, High Performing Coach Development and Education

10. Quality assurance

Having progressed through sections 1–9 of this toolkit you should be really pleased with the quality of the training program you have developed but as you know, supplementary policies and procedures need to be in place to ensure the quality roll out of national training program.

Note: Once developed, these policies and procedures can apply across all coach and official training programs within your NSO’s Coach and Official Development Framework. They should only need to be developed once.

What can we do to ensure quality delivery?

Too often, putting a training program quality assurance process in place is something we think is a good idea but never quite get around to implementing! The lack of availability of resources is one reason for not attending to this important aspect of implementation and continuous improvement. The following suggestions are measures that won’t break the budget or take too much time.

Quality assurance on two levels

Training Program Delivery
Impact of the training program (Questions the coach or official might ask)
Training program administrative aspects – how easy was it for the coach or official (before, during and after)?
Do I feel more confident to coach or officiate?
Engaging delivery strategies with a strong emphasis on DOING and a good integration of face-to-face, online and practical experience activities
How well has the course / training program equipped me with useful skills and knowledge?
Assessment is transparent, contributes to learning and measures actual competencies
Has the training program equipped me to APPLY new skills and knowledge to my immediate coaching or officiating situation?

Would I recommend the training program to a friend?

Some examples of relevant quality assurance mechanisms include (but may not be limited to):

  • presenters / learning facilitator qualifications and training
  • assessor qualifications and training
  • mentor qualifications and training
  • data collection (enrolments, completions, etc.)
  • coach and official codes of behaviour
  • feedback mechanisms
  • complaints handling procedure
  • recognition of current competence
  • child protection legislation
  • coach and official behaviour change (refer to section 9 of this toolkit).

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