We have three levels of coaching award: Foundation, Level 1 and Level 2. The pathway is slightly different for teachers and sports coaches who are new to ultimate as compared to existing players who want to coach. For teachers and multi-sport coaches, the Foundation Award and Level 1x provide an introduction to Ultimate: the rules, the basic skills and of course to self-refereeing and Spirit of the Game. In some circumstances, organisations will only employ Level 2 coaches, so we also offer a "transfer" option for individuals with Level 2 qualifications in other invasion team sports.
For our playing community the emphasis in the Level 1 workshop is the role and responsibilities of a coach as well as an introduction to important principles of coaching; hopefully helping someone focused on playing transition to thinking about coaching.
Beyond those initial workshops, in the last year we have tried to change the emphasis of the scheme to put more attention on continuous development, rather than the Level 2 qualification itself. This is done through a combination of Coach Forums that we host, but just as importantly, encouraging people to look for external opportunities to learn more and improve their coaching. UK Coaching has shared access to a number of their general online qualifications over the last few months, and more recently released their Duty to Care toolkit.
Lockdown has demonstrated to many of us just how much more can be done using video calls. We will be trialling an online version of Level 1 soon; and expect to be able to continue using that approach for the long-term.
In most years over 100 people attend a UKU Level 1 workshop, with at least as many again doing the Foundation or Level 1x awards. Well over 1000 people have attended the Foundation Award over the last 10 years.
Nonetheless, we're a long way from the situation where clubs all have dedicated coaches. Early in 2020 we were able to use some grant funding to offer subsidised places at Level 1 workshops for women aged 18-24. This worked well, and is an approach we will be repeating next year to try to improve diversity in our coaching workforce as we do have access to some additional funding for coach education.
A recurring challenge we see around coaching is a lack of visibility. There is a growing network of ultimate coaches and we created this resource to share their stories and experiences, answer some common questions, and highlight loads and loads of other coaching resources.
Good quality coaching is fundamental to most of our other goals: engaging with schools, developing young players, growing the number of female players, successful national teams, and a strong focus on Spirit of the Game.