A good sports coach has several key qualities. They include outstanding communication, the ability to listen, encourage and nurture all while helping individuals reach their full potential.
An apprenticeship serves as a platform to help people establish these skills via on-the-job development and tailored training.
Tom Mason works for Herefordshire and Worcestershire-based sports coaching company PACES and is studying a Level 4 apprenticeship in Sports Coaching via Ignite Training.
Tom is an established and proven Team Leader. But without apprenticeships, he believes unlocking his chosen career pathway would be difficult. He explains why here.
Knowledge, skills, behaviours
Tom’s Level 4 programme isn’t the first apprenticeship he has studied.
Since joining PACES in 2017, the 24-year-old has completed a Level 2 in Multi-Skills and earned his Level 3 UEFA B in Football qualification. But what is it about vocational qualifications that works for Tom?
“I don’t believe school suited my learning style,” he explained. “With an apprenticeship, I receive training and can apply what I learn in the real world.
“Being able to link the academic side of an apprenticeship to my day-to-day work is really helpful. I learn in the classroom via my virtual lessons and apply that information on the ground.
“Apprenticeships have granted me a lot of confidence. I feel like I am learning quicker than ever before, it’s been a great experience for me.”
As a team leader, Tom works closely with PACES Directors Jamie Pitman and Jim McGettrick and supports the company’s team of sports coaches.
Part of Tom’s responsibility is also to form strong relationships with schools based on reliability, trust and accountability. He is also heavily involved in the marketing and admin aspect of PACES including its popular Player Performance Centre.
Tom added: “There are no barriers when you study an apprenticeship. My apprenticeships have helped me develop my on-pitch coaching ability and my confidence within the primary school environment too.
“I feel comfortable and confident speaking to individuals when representing PACES to ensure we deliver a high-quality service.”
Every employer in the UK must dedicate a minimum of 20% of an apprentices’ working hours to training.
To fulfil this requirement, PACES partnered with Ignite Training. Wayne Goss is Head Tutor of the Level 4 Sports Coach programme and delivers weekly group and one-to-one sessions online.
“I learn remotely, but that isn’t a barrier at all,” said Tom. “That touchpoint is still there, despite Wayne being based in Oxford.
“The Ignite Training team are happy to come and meet me in-person if I need that extra support and are always at the end of the phone if I have a question. My course mates are close-knit too.
“We share ideas with each other and have created a great online working environment where we can develop our knowledge independently or via teams in breakout rooms.”
Climbing the career ladder
So, what does the future hold for Tom?
Have apprenticeships inspired him to climb the career ladder even higher?
He said: “I have learnt more skills than I could have imagined via my apprenticeships and the Level 4 programme I am studying with Ignite Training now is further broadening my knowledge.
“Being able to establish key industry contacts is a great feature of an apprenticeships and I am grateful to PACES for the development pathway they have provided via my education.
“I can’t imagine I would be a Team Leader without being able to study an apprenticeship. I’d definitely recommend them to people interested in developing their knowledge or changing careers.”
PACES is a sports coaching company that delivers school sport, physical education and physical activity in primary school environments across Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
It helps schools to deliver key outcomes related to the Schools Sport Premium and works to enhance sport within schools while upskilling teachers.