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Research Essentials: Pathways into Coaching

1 There are two ‘peak ages’ for entry into coaching. A survey of over 1200 coaches found there were two ‘peak entry’ ages into coaching – 16–18 years old and around 30 years old. 2 The most popular pathway into coaching is the ex-participant pathway. More than half of coaches (56%) become involved in coaching through their own participation in sport. Within this group, the most common circumstances leading to this were people’s experiences from coaching younger participants or teammates while still participating themselves, or wanting to continue in sport after their participation had ended. 3 One in five coaches enter through the parent/helper route. Twenty per cent of coaches became involved in coaching through their children’s involvement in sport. This helps explain the second coaching entry peak age group (around 30 years old). Men are twice more likely than women to take up coaching through their children.

4 Higher-level participants are more likely to start coaching at an early age. Coaches who participated at higher levels (eg county sports championships and above) are more likely to have started coaching at an early age. Coaches who participated in more competitive pathways may be more likely to exhibit higher levels of commitment to sport and would pursue lifelong participation through coaching. On the other hand, coaches with experience at lower participation levels (eg as beginners or improvers) started coaching approximately five years later than the average age. 5 Women are more likely to start coaching at a younger age. The average age women start coaching is five years earlier than men (22 years old and 27 years old, respectively). Nearly two-thirds of female coaches (64%) start coaching in the 15–24-year-old age group compared to less than half of male coaches (47%). This is most likely due to life cycle issues, such as the higher proportion of men who enter coaching as a result of their child’s involvement in sport.

Further Reading sports coach UK (2010) Coach Tracking Study Headline Report (Years 1–3). Leeds: sports coach UK. Available from the Resource Bank on the sports coach UK website at


© sports coach UK, 2011

Research Essentials: Pathways into Coaching

Research Essentials - Pathways into Coaching  

The Research Essentials series provides headline information on coaching research with links to help you apply the theory.