Coach Resources

Training Schools & Webinars

For questions or more information please contact Jason Merola, Regional Sports Director at [email protected].

Steps for Becoming A Coach

If you have been looking for an opportunity to coach Special Olympics Athletes, start the process by becoming a certified coach. Familiarize yourself with Steps for Becoming and Staying a Certified Coach.

Request A Skills Training School

Are you interested in being certified as a Special Olympics Coach? Select the season of the sport in which you are interested and then select the sport. You will be notified when training for that sport occurs near you.

In order to accommodate most requests we ask that requests by season are submitted no later than the following dates: 

  • Winter – Last Friday in August
  • Summer/Spring – Last Friday in November
  • Fall  – Last Friday in March

Follow the steps below to our VSys Portal to declare your interest in a sport for certification:

  • Go to your VSys Portal
  • Type in your email address and password
    • Forgot your password?  Type in your email then click on Forgot Password
    • A new one will be in your inbox in moments.
  • Once in your portal click on Training Schools, Webinars, and More.
  • Under “Sport Skills Training Interests (Level 1)” Click on Search
  • Confirm your contact information is correct.
  • At the bottom of the page, chose the season and sport that you would like to certified in.
  • Finally, click submit.

Training Numbers, Due Dates & Attendance Records

Submit Training Numbers to: [email protected]

Training Numbers will not be collected until all programs have entered into Phase E and all sports are back to in-person training. Any Questions? Email [email protected]

Attendance Records:

Training attendance records are detailed Excel spreadsheets that maintain your training sites’ attendance for athletes and coaches.  The athlete Excel spreadsheet requests information such as gender, age, attended practices, events attended, and the medical expiration date.  The coach Excel spreadsheet requests information such as certification date, completion of concussion training, general orientation, protective behaviors, events attended and attended practices.  The primary goal of these attendance sheets is to ensure your coaches can submit exactly what is needed to complete your programs training numbers.

Attendance Record for Athletes, Partners and Coaches

Training and Progression Plan

Are You A Bronze, Silver or Gold Level Coach?

We want to challenge our coaches; both new and seasoned members of our team. The newly developed SOPA Coach Training and Progression Plan will guide coaches through our education system and provide them the opportunity for additional education and new skills.

The journey begins with the basics in the Certified Coach Level. In these level, coaches complete three basic trainings: Protective Behaviors, General Orientation, and Concussion Training followed by completing the skills training of their chosen sport. 

The Bronze Level provides the next level of training. This includes the course Coaching Special Olympics Athletes  and implementing Fit 5 during athlete training sessions. Coaches MUST sign-up for Fit 5 to receive the training and materials.

The Silver Level will build upon the Bronze level and include the Principles of Coaching and Coaching Unified Sports courses as well as athlete goal setting and year round training. The Gold Level will build upon the Silver level and the coach will learn advanced tactics for their sport of choice and work with their athletes on tracking and achieving their personal best performance goals.

View our Coach Recognition Levels flyer for more information.

Once you complete a level you must submit the Sports Training Application for Coaches Progression to [email protected] . When reviewed you will be notified that you have completed that level and are ready to begin the requirements for the next level.

For more information contact Jennifer Tresp, Training & Unified Sports Director at [email protected]

Sports Certification & Continuing Education

Online Courses

Through new online course offerings, Special Olympics Pennsylvania coaches may now take online courses to either earn (Track 2 only) or maintain their certifications. New online courses introduced by Special Olympics North American in conjunction with American Sports Education Program (ASEP) and the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) include Coaching Special Olympics Athletes and Coaching Unified Sports. Completion of the Coaching Special Olympics Athletes and Coaching Unified Sports courses fulfill the continuing education requirement for all sports in which an individual is currently certified.  Individuals who qualify to earn their initial sports certification following Track 2 of the SOPA Coach Education Program may take the online Coaching Special Olympics Athletes course in place of attending the in-person training course.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania makes these courses available to coaches, but does not prepare the content, nor do we set the fees for those courses with a cost.  It does not receive any portion of those amounts charged per course. 

Sports Certification

Track Two – Experienced Coaching Certification – Coaching Special Olympics Athletes Online Course:

Individuals with extensive prior coaching or playing background in a sport in which they want to become certified may earn their certification by completing the new Coaching Special Olympics Athletes online course offered by the American Sport Education Program. (Please note this course costs $16.95 per person and individuals have one year to complete the course from the time they register for it.)

To earn a Track Two – Experienced Coaching Certification using the Coaching Special Olympics Athletes online course a coach must:

  • Complete the Special Olympics General Orientation. After review the material click on the Online Training Test, click finish after providing us with your information and answering all the questions on the General Orientation Quiz.
  • Complete the Special Olympics Protective Behaviors Training.
  • Complete the Special Olympics Concussion Training.
  • Submit for review and approval a Special Olympics Pennsylvania Track 2 – Experienced Coach outlining their experience in the sport. (If approved, the coach would complete the below steps. If denied, the coach must earn their certification by completing the Track One certification steps outlined on the SOPA Coach Overview.
  • Register for and complete the Coaching Special Olympics Athletes online course or other online course depending on past experience.
  • Complete a 10 hour practicum coaching athletes in the sport in which they want to become certified.
  • Complete and submit the Special Olympics Sports Training Application provided by the SOPA Training Director upon approval of Track 2 Experience.

Continuing Education (Recertification) Course Options

Every three years a certified coach must take Continuing Education to update their sport certification.

By completing one of the Continuing Education Course Options and submitting a  Sports Training Application along with proof of completion (certificate from course or congratulations email) to [email protected] each current certification will be renewed for three additional years. (Ex. Coaching Unified Sports)

Completion of those courses that are sport specific will renew current certifications in that sport only for three additional years. (Ex. Coaching Softball)

Coaches applying for continuing education credit are no longer required to complete 10 hours of practicum time working with athletes.

Sport Specific Clinics will be offered at State Competitions. Please check the Coaches Handbooks for date and time of these clinics. Sport Training Applications are not required after taking a clinic. The coach simply signs-in for the clinic to receive credit.

ACT 48 Eligible

We are able to provide teachers with their continuing education credits.  Right now we have 2 courses eligible and hopefully more to come.

  • Coaching Special Olympics Athletes (CSOA) – 3.5 hours credit
    • This must be the in-person course or the new Webinar course listed above. Please note – The on-line CSOA course through The American Sports Education Program is not eligible for ACT 48 Eligible hours
  • A Coach’s Playbook – An introduction to Autism and Instructional Strategies for Coaching – 2 hours credit
  • How It Works:
  • CSOA – After completing the course you will receive a certificate that can be submitted to your schools Continuing Ed supervisor for upload into your Continuing ed file.
  • A Coach’s Playbook – An introduction to Autism and Instructional Strategies for Coaching – After completing the course submit your Special Olympics Virginia Certificate to me at [email protected]
  • I will enter the certification into your VSys record and then I will provide you with a Certificate form PA that you can submit to your schools Continuing Ed supervisor for upload into your Continuing ed file.

For more information contact [email protected].