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Posted in: General

Expecting a fish to climb a tree - level 3 qualification requirements

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  • anfy

    I wondered what other sports have as pre-requisites for undertaking level 3 coaching training? Bowls has produced a new Level 3 course and issued the following pre-requisites :

    1. All candidates MUST hold a BDA Coach Bowls Level 2 qualification.

    2. All candidates must be able to demonstrate that they are coaching an individual or team at County Level or above on a regular basis.

    3. All candidates will be required to provide a letter of support from their National Governing Body.

    4. All candidates, prior to the course commencing, will need to provide the name of the individual and the team that they will be working with throughout the duration of the course in order to complete their off course practical elements.

    I suspect these have been lifted from other sports to keep us in line with them, but there are a couple of problems with requirement 2,

    (1) A County team only exists on the day - people come together from all over the county to play a match, then disperse. There is generally no permanent team.

    (2) Historically, bowls does not have a culture of regular coaching at higher levels, and the Catch22 is that, to encourage take-up of coaching on offer, coaches will need to demonstrate they are qualified to coach at that level! I have spoken to several other coaches and not one of them can meet these requirements. I have a suspicion that the only people "qualified" to take the course will be the elite players who have already been fast-tracked through level 2.. So what happens to the bulk of players who never get to see an elite player/coach? They will have to make do with those of us who do the day-to-day work.

    What is the position in other sports?

  • Mcshanec

    The Williams sisters had their dad coach them with no qualifications so why should a coach have to prove to someone that they will never coach that he/ she can coach

  • stevotech

    This is a typically anachronistic stance taken by some national governing bodies, who compound the issue by adding layers of bureaucracy AND cost - it would not surprise if your sport (bowls) take that to levels demanding a mortgage! It is likely that a Level 3 'standard' is not applicable in the majority of amateur sports and what is required is a simpler, but properly scrutinised, grading system (e.g. C, B, A) achieved on practical, evidence based coaching activity. Numerous exponents enjoy their respective sport and reach a standard where they are competitive relevant to their ability, but are discouraged to pass on their experience through coaching and this has the knock-on effect of discouraging widening participation.

  • IanMahoney

    We are in the 21st century and cotton woo ling the kids. they want professional coaches but best coaches are the ones that just coach, either from their own experience in the sport or another sport. I new a hockey player wo coached his son the national level at 800m and 1500m track and field. Took what he learnt and applied it to running. the principles are generally the same.

    What make one athlete better than another --- No 1 -- Belief

  • hugherj

    for triathlon you need a level 2 and a year's coaching experience

    level 3 focuses on 1:1 coaching rather than groups so you need an individual to work with by no pre-requisite as to standard.

    working to get to level 3 in triathlon is a far bit of work but achievable by anyone regularly coaching 


    Where has the information on the Level 3 Qualification come from ?

    I am a Level 2 Coach and have not seen anything on the BDA site as yet.

    The BDA do not seem to even have the Coaching Portal up and running yet.

  • andrewb62

    Hi Anthea

    For cricket, the level 3 qualification is currently called "Performance Coach", and forms part of an "Elite Coach Development Pathway".

    Applicants must hold an appropriate level 2 qualification, but additional criteria further define access.

    The course is open to coaches from the following pathways:

    • County Board Workforce Planning
    • Coaches working in performance programmes in clubs and schools
    • Professional cricketers currently or previously playing in one of the First Class Counties in England and Wales
    • ICC Europe
    • Coaches involved in an ECB-related development programme overseas
    • Coaches from the south east Asian community

    Additionally, all candidates must have the support of an appropriate endorsing body, defined as follows:

    • County Cricket Board
    • ECB Coaches Association rep
    • County Academy Director
    • County Director of Cricket
    • ECB


  • andrewb62

    ...that reply might have been too long.  Here's the rest.

    The level 3 qualification is explicitly described as being designed for coaches working within the following areas, male or female:

    • County age group, U13 and older
    • Emerging Players Programme
    • County Academy Programme
    • County Professional Programme
    • England Men's and Women's Development Programme

    The level 3 qualification was previously open to ambitious and competent level 2 coaches, irrespective of where they worked.

    Now, it appears to be restricted to those already within the "Performance" environment, as coaches or players (and hence able to obtain the appropriate endorsement); the level 3 qualification leads to work within the elite player development pathway (the route to the professional game).

  • Ralph

    That’s amazing Anthea, if you are right, then that’s the most perfect close loop circular system I’ve come across with governing bodies. It effectively means, whoever controls the governing body also controls, who they want to be an L3. No longer will it be on the best coach available, but on a small poule of preselected coaches. It makes the assumption, that one can only be a good coach if one has been a good player. It’s basically revamped the old boys (school tie) (who you know, not what you know) club. It also prevents any L2 from improving standards, as they will not be availed the information on an L3 course. I'm impressed, I generally only see these kind of systems in the most corrupt governments.

  • anfy

    Hi Stephen

    The Coaching Portal is up and running. It just contains copies of the paperwork at levels 1 and 2 and some video clips of dubious merit!

    I got the information on the level 3 because I asked for it!


  • anfy

    You got it in one, Ralph! Looks like cricket is going the same way?

    My initial problem is that I have been asking the NGB for years what sports psychology qualification would be accepted, and have been told it would be announced "soon" and not to undertake an unapproved course! Finally, there it was in the L3 course, so I applied ... 

    I wanted the L3 qualification (or bits of it) for my own personal development and to ensure I could offer a range of support to bowlers at all levels. This seems to be outside the Plan, which is to raise the profile of coaching by using only elite players as coaches. Unfortunately, the publicly stated opinion of one of these elite players (to an audience of doting fans at the recent National Championships) is that a coach cannot help any bowler beyond a basic beginner as, once someone has learnt the basics, a coach can offer nothing!!! How the NGB is intending to reconcile this attitude remains to be seen.

    It is obvious there will soon be a small pool of "qualified" coaches, swimming in a very small pond and acquiring kudos for their sterling work for the sport, whilst the bulk of the work will be done, as usual, by hundreds of club coaches who take it far more seriously and actually believe in the use of coaches!

  • cyclingcoach

    For cycling, the step up to L3 via the NGB is a big one. The 7 day course (split into two main areas) is expensive at £840 plus travel/accommodation so for a part time largely volunteer coach like me it's hard to justify unless I can get funding support. 

    The entry requirements are simple enough in that you need to already be a L2 coach in the discipline you want to coach at L3 (e.g. mountain biking or track). To my knowledge there is no minimum time you need to have been coaching. You do also need access to one or two athletes to coach on an individual basis to complete the course. 

    Having successfully completed four British Cycling courses during 2015/16 plus a number of workshops I can say that in my opinion the standard of the courses and of the the tutors is very high. I've also seen people fail the coaching assessments so it's not just an exercise to churn out  coaches. 

    There is a second route to L3 via the Association on British Cycling Coaches which is much lower coat and mostly distanced learning. I've looked at this a number of times and may end up taking this route from a CPD perspective though it's proving difficult to obtain as unbiased evaluation of the course. There is no entry requirement to this course. 

  • Ralph
    On 03/01/17 9:19 AM, Anthea Dore said:

    whilst the bulk of the work

    My advisers have just told me, Cricket has always been like this, I suspect all sports have their elitist traits.

    The flaw in the logic that elitists will never understand (basically due to their closed loop nature of being self centred) is that a closed loop will eventually eat itself, proved in many different closed loop areas, such as ketosis, autoimmunological dysfunction, cancer, parasites, conformational bias psychology, black holes, suicide, psychopaths, despots, etc. The top of the pyramid isn’t interested that it’s supported by the base, it’s their divine given right to be supported by the base. And of course closed loop systems is the basis of sexism, racism, and probably all other isms, a way of reinforcing the glass ceilings.

    Doing a background check of some of those that are running governing bodies, you’ll find some failed athletes, failed coaches, failed businessmen, failed industry managers, those that wouldn’t survive in the private business world and so end up in sport. FIFA or Sam Allerdice is not the tip of the iceberg, they are a product of the iceberg, a product of the system. Governing bodies don’t really want an Andy Murrey, he’s not a part of the system, he had to become successful outside the system, can’t do that with team sports, and a gov body wants to take credit for an athletes success, it justifies their job and pay and ego.

    Don’t be to down Anthea, it’s not just sport, it’s ubiquitous, it sums up the human condition, fantasists, realists, and all the rest inbetween.


    “Those that can’t do, teach;

    those that can’t teach, teach teachers;

    those that can’t teach teachers, run governing bodies.”


  • cyclingcoach
    On 03/01/17 10:23 AM, Ralph Samwell said:

    “Those that can’t do, teach;

    those that can’t teach, teach teachers;

    those that can’t teach teachers, run governing bodies.”

    I can't say that your quote above is in line with my own personal experiences in my field of coaching (cycling), quite the reverse. The high standard of tutors provided by British Cycling and the willingness of the NGB to respond to feedback from coaches has in my opinion (and continues to be) inclusive and outcome orientated. Perhaps this is reflected in the quality of athletes that the 'system' has and continues to produce on the world stage.

    More over the willingness of the tutors to provide one to one advice and mentoring 'post course' in my experience has been extraordinary.

    I would however add that my personal experience of 'pros' and elite cyclists transferring to become coaches is not always a success. Being a world class racer does not by default produce a world class coach and it would therefore seem to me that that sometime "those that can, can't always teach very well".

  • andrewb62
    On 03/01/17 10:23, Ralph Samwell said:

    My advisers have just told me, Cricket has always been like this

    hi Ralph

    I don't know your source, but my understanding was that the cricket level 3 qualification was offered more widely at least for a few years before 2012 (when a new coaching pathway was introduced), to level 2 coaches with appropriate qualifications and experience, and largely irrespective of background or future employment prospects.  I currently work with several ("old style") level 3 coaches who are not working in any of the "elite performance pathway" roles.

    The current level 3 is intended as a qualification for coaches who will be working in the professional, performance pathway.

    There is an alternative CPD pathway for "community" or "participation" coaches in cricket (although, a little oddly, this pathway no longer appears to be posted to the ECB's own website) - workshops and "Diploma" qualifications (essentially a level "2.5") are on offer.

    FWIW - take a look at the posts on the new Coaching Plan for England & Wales; this outlines the new vision for "participation" coaching, and I don't see any obvious progression from "community" to "performance".

  • shootcoach

    Hi Anthea

    Don't give up, go and prove to them and yourself that you are better than their system. I have experienced the same problems with my governing body, and the replies from Ralph Samwell sums up the what is wrong with many of the governing bodies, and how they go about their business.

    Although the qualifications are not part of the endorsed UK coaching system, I wanted to take my International Shooting Sport Federation, International coaching course. For three years in a row my attendance has been put back to allow ex-athletes, friends, and friends of friends to attend. Through determination, I took a step backwards and took my National (ISSF) course just so I was part of their coaching system. Now with the help of Sportscotland, we have taken the contents of the International course, and I am studying each content as a separate course and qualification.

    If you want to further your qualifications and professional development be determined, stick in there and beat the system, I am sure there will someone out there to help you. 


  • Ralph
    On 03/01/17 12:49 PM, Andrew Beaven said:

    I don't know your source,

    have not given me permission to name them but to say, they are highly experienced, highly qualified, cricket coaches.

    they and i quote, "we are talking about elitism and nepotism that has always been a thread running through Cricket, that means it is not always the best players that come through the ranks but those that live in in the right post code and have been forced to advise talent to play for other counties other than their own.."

  • Ralph
    On 03/01/17 10:57 AM, Ian Tunnicliffe said:

    I can't say that your quote above is in line with my own personal experiences in my field of coaching (cycling),

    results speak for themselves, and ALL sports should follow cycling protocol. one cannot argue with GB cycling amazing success, and clear evidence, it can be done, in any sport.

  • NicoleDbooth

    As far as I'm aware there is currently a bit of re-structure for the NGB's across the UK. CIMPSA are trying to distinguish the difference between the levels of coaches, and other active roles.

    They are trying to make then Level 1's (assistant coaches), level 2 (lead coaches), Level 3 (Elite or experienced coaches) and in some cases invite only. 

    Some National governing bodies have had coaches do an additional course to update their old qualification and create a bridge way. 

    I think they may have just copied this as it is very similar to British weightlifting criteria and some other NGB's my colleagues have been training with. There will be a few hiccups and anomalies whilst they decide what is necessary for all sports and then each individual sport will also be trying to make sure they are setting the bar high (they just need to look at how the sport is running at the moment).

    Have you contacted your NGB about this?

  • DavidMillett


    This is not the case with Athletics.  In some cases coaches must have completed some add on modules after their Level 2 (Athletics Coach) qualification.  So, for example, for discus and hammer before doing the level 3 equivalent for throws.

    However, there is a balance to be struck.  Qualifications do not necessarily = competence.  England Athletics is trying to encourage coaches to do a variety of workshops as part of CPD so they can meld theory and practice.

    Kind regards


  • SteveRuis

    The problem here is the conflating of two things: one is training coaches to be better coaches and the other is developing programs (programmes?) for developing athletes. I suggest that we should actually separate the two. Coach training programs should involve training coaches to be better coaches and nothing else (that's enough). Coach development programs would have to be developed to take trained coaches and lead them through participation in various level programs to develop those programs as well as equip the participating coaches to function as a team member in those programs. I took the coach training courses in archery in the U.S. all the way to Level 4, the highest level then available, in order to be a better coach and to be able to write about coaching archery better. I had no intention of being a coach in any of the USA Archery programs or wanting to get on a track that would lead to high level team coaching (never did).

    Conflating the two creates obvious distortions such as appear here with bowls coaches. Here in the U.S. we charge a fee for such trainings and rarely are they "sold out" so that people like me are never taking away spots for coaches earnestly wanted to get trained to support high level programs. So what's the harm in training as many people as we can. maybe, just like athletes, when they receive the training, they may find themselves more interested in a role in the programs and can take off from there. If coach candidates in these course are paying their own way, no one loses.

  • Ralph

    Firstly, why might such fast-tracking be contemplated? It is a commonly held view that it is a natural and logical progression from being a high achieving athlete, to becoming a successful coach, or manager in a coaching related role. Unfortunately, this rests largely upon inaccurate assumptions, and is, if not a myth, an opinion sometimes held in mythical proportions. I have argued elsewhere that ex-elite athletes do not invariably make successful coaches (Turner, 2003). Some do. But surprisingly few considering the greater opportunities open to them, and the supposed advantages they are perceived to have for undertaking the job. Conversely, various individuals with humble athletic achievement backgrounds have flourished in the coaching role.



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