Coaches Education

Special Olympics coaches play a vital role in the success of Special Olympics. Despite it being one of the most demanding responsibilities you may ever take on, we challenge you to find one more rewarding!

Step #1:  Contact your local program coordinator and complete a coaching interest form. Special Olympics North Carolina is organized by county, and each county has a coordinator that manages and coordinates Special Olympics activity.

Step #2: Start working on the requirements to become a coach. All volunteers that work directly with athletes will need to undergo a background check and also take Protective Behaviors training.

Step #3: Attend a sport specific skills course called a training school,* which will give you specific instruction in training athletes in a sport as well as Special Olympics modifications to that sport.  These clinics are held four times every quarter, and are specific to the sport training season. In order to make the training accessible to the coaches that register for that training, locations are not specified until the sport staff reviews the registrations and will then choose a location that is closest for all that registered.
*If you have received training for your sport through a national governing body course, or have taken a sport certification course through National Federation of High School Athletic Associations or AESP, that training may count towards your sport training requirement. Contact the sports department to find out more.

Step #4: Start studying! There are plenty of training materials ready for anyone interested in coaching to learn more about the sport and Special Olympics North Carolina. Each sport offered in Special Olympics North Carolina has its own web page where you will find links to rules, coaching guides, updates, and a calendar for any sport-related events.

If you like apps, Special Olympics, Inc has made all their coach manuals available via a Sports App available on iTunes, Android, or Amazon. to download your version today!

Share Your Sport Knowledge

Are you an experienced SONC or sport coach interested in helping train other coaches in your community or around the state? Contact Andrea Stamm to learn how to become a Certified Clinician.

If you would like to check your certification status, you may do so by clicking on button above. This document is updated every two weeks.

Names may be listed more than once; there is one line (or record) for each sport certification course a person has attended. Additionally, completion of other course requirements (General Orientation, Protective Behaviors, etc.) are listed with the person’s name.

Sports certification expires every three years. You will see when your certification expires in the column labeled “Date Sport Certification Expires/Expired.” If your certification has expired or is about to expire, just go to the sport webpage to take the re-certification test.

Protective Behaviors certification also expires every three years. Check the “Date Protective Behaviors Expires/Expired” column to make sure you and your coaches are up-to-date. If it is expired, or will expire before the next state-level event s/he plans on attending, retake the test.

Local Coordinators can use the filter function to see only their program’s coaches. In the “delegation” column, click on the pull down arrow and uncheck the “select all” box, then but a check in the box for your delegation/county. Click “OK”.

Enforcement at State-Level Events

In order to emphasize the importance of well-trained and knowledgeable coaches, requirements will be in place for all sport coaches and Heads of Delegation attending state-level events.

  • Programs must have the following. A $50 fee will be charged to the local program for each coach they are lacking. Any online tests must be completed by the registration deadline of the state-level event:
    • At least one Certified Coach per team attending the event.  “Team” refers to teams in basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball and cheerleading squads.
    • At least one Certified Coach for every 10 athletes for individual sports. We will round down for fees (i.e. 32 athletes, only 3 Certified Coaches required).
  • Program must have at least one Certified Coach in each sport in which they are participating in order to bring athletes to a state-level event in that sport. A one-year grace period will be allowed for a local program starting a new sport.
  • All Heads of Delegation must have Protective Behaviors Training and General Orientation. Heads of Delegation that do not meet this requirement will not be allowed to attend the state-level event.

Incentive Program

SONC realizes that recognition is an important part of any volunteer program. It is SONC’s intention to distribute recognition items to coaches twice a year.

Distribution plans are as follows:

  • Each person will receive one item when they reach the Certified Coach status in the first sport (certification in multiple sports will be recognized by the certificates which currently go out) and one item when they meet the criteria for an Advanced Coach.
  • Certified Coaches will receive a credential pouch.
  • Advanced Certified Coaches will received a “SONC Certified Coach” T-shirt
  • All qualifying coaches will receive correspondence to which they must respond before a recognition item will be sent to them.

Share your sport knowledge

Are you an experienced SONC or sport coach interested in helping train other coaches in your community or around the state? Contact Andrea Stamm to learn how to become a Certified Clinician.

Training Courses and Requirements for Class A Volunteers and Coaches

Steps Action Items Time Needed Renewal Requirements Cost
To get started: Volunteer Screening Form (SONC will perform a background check on volunteers age 18+) 5 minutes Do it once and you are done! A background screening will be automatically run every 3 years. Free
First step to be a sports assistant Protective Behaviors
(Required for those age 16+)
15 minutes Every 3 years Free

General Orientation Study Guide

General Orientation Quiz

15 minutes  N/A Free
Concussion Training
Please send certificate of completion to to receive credit for this course.
 1 hour  Every 3 years Free

Steps to become a Level 1 Coach: As a Level 1 Coach, you can serve in a coach capacity at events and file protests as needed

Prerequisite: Certifications of a Sport Assistant

Sport Specific Training School

In person: 3-5 hours

Recertification: 20 minutes

 Every 3 years via online test (found on sport web page) or in-person training school $10 per person (charged to
local program for initial training)
Practicum Hours -Coaching athletes in the sport  10 hours N/A  Free

Steps to become a Level 2 Coach: As a Level 2 Coach, you can also apply to serve in a coach capacity at events outside NC within the US (USA Games, regional events, etc.)

Prerequisite: Certifications of a Level 1 Coach

Coaching Special Olympics Athletes 3 hours N/A

$16.95 – online


at an SONC Training School  – Included in Training School registration fee

Sportsmanship 30 minutes N/A  Free

Steps to become a Level 3 Coach: As a Level 3 Coach, you can apply to be a World Games coach and you are simply the bomb!

Prerequisite: Certifications of a Level 2 Coach

Study Guide

Principles of Coaching Test

3 hours N/A  Free
CPR/First Aid Training  Varies by location (online or in-person) Every 2 years Varies
Extra training to make you extra-ordinary Coaching Unified Sports – Required if program is training and competing in Unified sports 1 hour N/A Free
A Coach’s Playbook: Introduction to Autism and Instructional Strategies for Coaching 2 hours N/A Free
Making the Most of Your Practice – In-person
(by request of Local Coordinator)
3 hours N/A Free
Heat Illness Prevention 30 min N//A Free