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Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ) Coaches Certification & Training Program was established to educate those who work directly with Special Olympics athletes. Because the better the coach, the better the experiences will be for the athletes! SOAZ's Coaches Certification Program has a Level 2 accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE). Please visit the Forms area of this website to find the Special Olympics Arizona Coaches Training Policy.
Effective April 1, 2008, each Special Olympics team must have a certified non-playing head coach in order to train or compete at any level. For individual sports, there must be a certified coach within each delegation. It is highly recommended that coaches be certified in each sport they coach, but certification is not required unless it is a high risk sport such as equestrian or powerlifting.
Effective January 1, 2010 all Special Olympics head coaches must become Level 3 certified in Principles of Coaching by January 1, 2016. All new coaches after January 1, 2010 have six years to attain Level 3 Principles of Coaching certification.
Effective January 1, 2010 all head coaches of Unified Sports® team sports must be Level 3 certified in Unified Sports®. All new head coaches of Unified Sports® team sports after January 1, 2010 just be Unified Sports® certified before coaching a Unified Sports® team. Team sports include softball, soccer, floor hockey, basketball, flag football and volleyball.
Coaches certification is valid for three years from the date of their sport-specific training. There are five steps to Coaches Certification:
Effective January 1, 2010 all head coaches of Unified Sports® teams must complete the Unified Sports® Course. This requirement is for team sports only (which includes Basketball, Flag Football, Soccer, Softball, Floor Hockey and Volleyball), although it is highly recommended that all Unified Sports® coaches take this training. This course helps to ensure a positive and meaningful experience for everyone involved on Unified Sports® teams.
SOAZ coaches are encouraged to become better coaches for their athletes by continually gaining knowledge through courses sponsored by SOAZ or other community organizations. Coaches are required to be re-certified every three years. Coaches can renew their certification in two simple steps:
1. Ensure they have current Class A Volunteer status with SOAZ.
2. Complete one of the many approved continuing education courses (below). Other relevant courses will be considered for re-certification, but must be approved by the SOAZ Sports & Training Manager, Jamie Heckerman.
The following is a list of approved courses for coach re-certification & continuing education:
Special Olympics Arizona hosts an annual Leadership Conference which all coaches and local program volunteers are encouraged to attend. The conference includes sport-specific training, advanced coach training such as Principles of Coaching and other training (i.e., CPR & First Aid) to support SOAZ coaches. The event also includes the Distinguished Service Award Banquet.
The most current Special Olympics coaching resources are always available by visiting the SOI Sports website. The Sports Rules are updated on a yearly basis, every January. For coaches and teams to have the best experience possible, they must stay up to date with these current resources. Coaching and quickstart guides are also available at this web address.
SOAZ may modify some SOI rules and divisioning criteria based on the needs of local and state competitions. These modifications are outlined in the registration information and / or divisioning rules and posted to the SOAZ website prior to the competition.
For additional information contact:
Director of Training and Competition
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