Training and Certification

Goals of Training and Certification  

Coaches education is the most significant factor in the improved training of athletes in any sports organization, and Special Olympics is no differerent. Special Olympics' Coaches Certification program is designed to ensure that all persons involved with the coaching of Special Olympics athletes have a minimum base of knowledge about the sport(s) they coach.

Each training program is required to have a minimum of one sports-specific certified coach present at the competition for each sport in which the program is participating.


Coach Certification Process

YEAR 1: Special Olympics 101 – Certification valid for 1 year

Complete the Special Olympics 101 Course - This step MUST BE COMPLETED before you begin coaching as a head or assistant coach.


YEAR 2: Sport Specific Training – Certification valid for 1 year

To stay current, you must complete one of the following in the year after completion of Special Olympics 101 and before you begin coaching in that program year. There are 3 options for completing this requirement:

1. Attend a SODE Sport Specific Coaching course or SODE Coach Summit.  Attending one of these will maintain your certification for two years.

2. You may also complete a Sport Specific Coaching Course online at one of the following locations:

          a.  American Sports Education Program: Special Olympics Requirements page*

                   *Not all sports are listed on this page but if you click on the “For Coaches” link on the left hand side of the page you will be able to see a list of all courses available.

          b.  National Federation of High Schools: NFHS Learn Course List*

                   *Not every sport is available through these websites so for some sports this may not be an option for some sports.

3.  Attend an approved coaching clinic or course specific to the sport offered through another sports organization. This must be approved prior to attending. For approval contact Mark Wise at