The important role of children's sports coaches in life post-Covid

Tshirt with coach on the reverse

The important role of children’s sports coaches in life post Covid

For the past year, across the country, children have had to stay at home, with schools closed and opportunities for other activities limited by national restrictions. As we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, MP’s have called on the Government to launch a nationwide campaign to get children active again. Recent data from Sport England showing that 100,000 fewer children met the recommended level of activity in 2020 than in 2019 is ‘of significant concern’. Read more here.

As a result, we are expecting a booming summer and end of the year for the children’s activities industry and in particular children’s sports coaching, as parents look for ways to ensure their children are developing the habits that promote healthy, active lifestyles.

The call for this campaign shows just how valuable physical exercise is to a child’s physical and mental health and the important role children’s sports coaches play in achieving that.

Mark Rasche, from Sport & Activity Professionals, introduced us to a few people from the sector to speak about this. Sport & Activity Professionals help organisations in the sport and activity sector grow, improve, over-come challenges and achieve their ambitions. They also help the sector to access the Kickstart scheme to take on new staff and get their wages funded by government. Click here to find out more about Sport & Activity Professionals. For more information on the Kickstart scheme click here.

Joanne Budden, Director of Leapfrog Sports, and Scott and Danny, coaches at SportyMinis, tell us how they started a career in children’s sports coaching and the role they feel this sector will play in children’s lives post Covid.


How did you become a children’s sports coach?

Joanne: I used to work in quite a senior role in a bank which I had done for many years. I then became a mum to a very active boy and tried to find a class for him to burn off some energy but the only thing that I could find locally was football. I knew that both he and I would get bored of doing the same thing each week and felt that it couldn't be good for his development to just play one sport - what about all the other skills he could be learning? This started an idea in my mind, as I thought if I wanted it, so must other parents and then my business Leapfrog Sports was born. We coach multi-sports to young children, aged 2-7 years and each week we cover a different sport, so they learn loads of different skills. I trained and set everything up while I was on maternity leave with my second son!

Danny: I started youth coaching at the age of 13 after I had to stop playing football for health reasons. Fast forward 10 years and SportyMinis came to my rescue after being made redundant from a role in hospitality following the COVID-19 outbreak. It was brilliant to be able to finally coach full time and work with children.

Scott: I did youth sports leaders in year 9 at school and carried on from there. I completed over 100 hours of volunteer coaching in year 9 and won young volunteer of the year.


In your opinion, what is best thing about being a children’s sports coach?

Joanne: The best thing is seeing a child have fun, grow in confidence and build on the skills that you have taught them. I love looking around when the classes are in full swing, seeing everyone enjoying themselves and being so proud that I made that happen!

Danny: The people - the parents, the staff and of course, the children. Seeing them smile and enjoy physical activity makes my job incredibly rewarding. It’s special to be the first engagement in physical activity for many children.

Scott: The best thing is watching the enjoyment on the children’s faces and knowing I’m helping them become more mobile and sports aware.


How have attitudes changed to children's sports coaching in recent years?

Joanne: Through the pandemic, I think it really highlighted to parents the importance of extracurricular activities. Not being able to attend classes and clubs, showed how much children missed these activities and benefited from them. The fun, the games, being active, being around other children and the coaches really helps with children's fitness and mental health and I think parents now appreciate the importance of that much more.

Danny: A lot of my experience outside of SportyMinis comes with teenagers. So, I am fortunate enough to work with different age groups in youth coaching. I think a lot of focus has been on creating a positive environment for our young people to learn and develop. Gone are the days where a coach would use a command style for their young athletes.

Scott: I believe sports coaches are now seen as more important across the board and across all age groups too. I don’t think sports wasn’t probably considered as important as other subjects previously.


What role does sports coaching have to play as we rebuild after Covid?

Joanne: I think sports coaching will have a big role to play to help improve children's mental health. Having a place where they can go and have fun with other children and coaches, who through sport, can help to build children's confidence and reduce anxiety is very important. In addition, children's fitness was impacted so giving children the opportunity to be active regularly will help with that.

Danny: A lot of our young athletes are very enthusiastic to play sports or get involved in physical activity, arguably more so than prior to the various lockdowns. Socially the children need it too. I know as a kid I would’ve found lockdown incredibly boring, being told 1) to stay indoors and 2) that I couldn’t meet anyone outside my household. When I reflect on my sporting memories as a kid they’ve always been with a friend present.


What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a children’s sports coach?

Joanne: I would say do it! It is a really rewarding career and gives you such variety in your day. For me it has also allowed flexibility to fit in well around my family. However, it is important that you do things correctly so make sure you do your research, and you know everything you will need to do such as, DBS checks, safeguarding, insurance etc.

Danny: Give it a go. In my opinion you can’t learn to be a sports coach from a book or watching a YouTube video. It’s about going out and experiencing things firsthand. You’ll learn so much from being bold enough to give it a go. It’s a highly rewarding career, seeing children you used to work with grow, develop and achieve their full potential.

Scott: The best advice I could give is to try it and work with as many coaches as you can. This will give you a chance to learn from others to enhance and evolve your own coaching methods.


Morton Michel’s new Children’s Sports Coaches policy will assist in supporting the coaches helping to get the nation’s children active again. We can insure both children’s sports clubs and individual sports coaches across over 150 different sports, including multi-sport providers. Coverage includes public liability and professional indemnity, as well as legal expenses insurance as standard. It also optionally includes cover to protect equipment and participants’ personal accident cover. Please note: limits and exclusions apply. More details are available on the Morton Michel website.


Our additional benefits package is designed to support individuals and businesses working with children, including free online training from award-winning flick learning and free legal advice lines from ARAG, as well as access to our ChildCare Club’s exclusive range of discounts.


Click here to find out more about our Sport Coaching policy.