British Athletics has launched a new programme ‘Athlete to Coach’, aimed at encouraging current and former athletes to become licenced coaches.

Many former international athletes will have gained a high-level of technical expertise during their career, and the course aims to acknowledge this prior learning. The programme has been designed to cover the content and competency requirements of the British Athletics Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach Courses in a manner that meets the needs of athletes with technical and tactical knowledge of their event.

The Athlete to Coach Programme will start with two separate six-day courses in Birmingham and in Loughborough respectively spread across a period of nine months, beginning in March and ending with a final assessment in November.

Any athlete who has represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland or one of the Home Countries at senior level at the Olympic or Paralympic Games, World or European Championships or Commonwealth Games is eligible to apply.

Participants will be supported by a team of experienced coach education tutors and former international athletes, who are fully licenced coaches, including Kelly Sotherton and Goldie Sayers. The Olympic bronze medallists will be tutors on the course and have both been consulted in the development of the programme.

“Retired athletes are often told they can’t coach,” said Sotherton. “We want to encourage athletes to stay within the sport whether that is teaching in schools or at clubs, adult or age groups. It is all about learning the art of coaching and applying the knowledge you have, which takes years to build.

“We want a new generation of able coaches with a really good skill set and we know there are people out there who want to be involved. Some might still be in the middle of their careers but they can still learn to be a coach and that might help them become a better athlete.

“I would like to encourage people to share their coaching ideas and experience of good and bad practise, be open and honest and able to challenge each other in coaching forums to help create a different coaching culture that helps our country to be a successful athletics nation.”

Sayers, who won Olympic bronze in the javelin at Beijing 2008, added: “Elite athletes work with a coach or a number of great coaches over their careers and therefore gain a tremendous amount of knowledge which can be lost from the sport if they are not encouraged into coaching. We need to retain more athletes in the sport and make it more attractive to go into coaching, no matter what level it is.

“Kelly and I completed the British Athletics Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach Courses and understood that, as athletes, there needed to be something bespoke to meets the needs of those going from being an athlete into coaching.

“Most athletes know what to coach but the challenge comes in how to coach and most importantly how and when to give input. Coaching is equally as challenging as being an athlete and comes with a very different set of skills. For athletes who like helping people, it is certainly a rewarding practise.”

Nigel Holl, Director of Strategy & Partnerships at UK Athletics, said: “The Programme does not take anything away from the British Athletics Coaching Assistant and Athletics Coach Courses, it is bespoke to athletes who have elite technical and tactical knowledge but need guidance in how to transfer and deliver this knowledge in a way that is meaningful to others.”