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Education for youth sport coaches revolutionised by Leeds Beckett


A new series of free online courses to develop youth sport coaches - launched by Leeds Beckett University and the International Council for Coaching Excellence – has been recognised as one of the most innovative approaches to coach education in the world.

iCoachKids website screenshot

The iCoachKids courses - available on YouTube and through the iCoachKids website – aim to support and guarantee access to high quality coach education for all youth sport coaches across the world.

The suite of courses was recently launched at the International Sports Convention 2018 in Geneva, where it was praised by an audience of national federations, leagues and private coaching providers from across the globe.

Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial, iCoachKids project leader and Reader in Sport Coaching at Leeds Beckett University, said: “This is a true game changer for the education of children’s coaches around the world. We’ve already got interest in the courses from the likes of FIFA, UEFA and FIBA.

“Coaches of children represent more than 80 per cent of the coaching workforce across Europe, yet they lack sufficient opportunities to gain specialist knowledge to fulfil their very important role.

“The launch of the iCoachKids website in 2017 aimed to change this by providing resources and materials to help youth coaches all over the world plan and deliver great sessions and programmes.”

The first course - entitled ‘Developing Effective Environments for Children in Sport’ - is available now. Two further courses – ‘Child and Youth-Centred Coaching’ and ‘Coaching Children: Planning, Doing and Reviewing’ - will be launched in 2019. All content is based on the European Coaching Children Curriculum.


The website was the first to cover the whole breadth of areas related to coaching youth sport – from child development, motivation and planning to talent development, safeguarding and child protection. The iCoachKids YouTube channel, containing more than 50 educational videos for youth coaches, was launched in September.

The new courses are known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). They are free to anyone who wants to learn more about coaching children. Colleges, universities and federations are also free to use them, as part of their offer to coaches.  They can also access the downloadable MOOC student learning guides to accompany the courses.

Dr Lara-Bercial added: “The MOOCs are aimed at beginner and intermediate youth coaches; yet we are confident that the quality of the courses and the supporting materials and study guides will make them attractive to even the most experienced and knowledgeable coaches out there.”

iCoachKids is a three-year Erasmus+ co-funded project (2016-2019) which brings together eight organisations with expertise in the field of youth sport and coach education.  Led by Leeds Beckett University and the International Council for Coaching Excellence, other partners include the Netherlands Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF), the Hungarian Coaching Association, Sport Ireland, Lithuanian Sports University (LSU), Universidad Europea de Madrid and the Royal Belgian Football Association.

For more information, or to discuss running a customised version of the MOOCs, please contact Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial.

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