Coaching Award Scheme FAQs

1/ I am a Climbing Wall Award holder. Why should I be interested in the Coaching Scheme?

We are all aware of the fact that there are some inspirational coaches with masses of experience, who work predominantly in climbing walls. Until now, there has been no mechanism for recognising the advanced coaching skills of these coaches, beyond their common use of a Climbing Wall Award. The Coaching Scheme will provide three levels of recognition for coaching skills and experience. This is good for coaches who wish to prove their level of ability, and good for climbers who wish to be reassured that their coach has reached a recognised standard.

2/ Does the Coaching Scheme replace existing qualifications?

No. The Coaching scheme is designed to complement the existing qualifications, by recognising that the skills of coaching and developing the skills of a climber(s) are different to those of leadership, for example. Think of it like climbing grades: with an objective grade and a technical grade giving you an overall feel for a route or climb. In this way, we all know an E2 5b is different to an E2 6a. In choosing a leader, instructor or Guide, the climber will soon come to learn that someone with a CWLA + Performance Coach might be the perfect person to coach them to hard leads in the climbing wall; whilst a BMG + Foundation Coach has all the skills they need to Guide the North face of the Eiger.

3/ Can anyone become a climbing coach?

The Coaching scheme has been designed to support the whole pathway of climbing, from the very first moves. Only experienced and competent coaches will gain the qualifications at each level, but it is never too soon to start to develop better coaching skills. The Foundation Coach training will benefit a great many coaches to help them deliver the FUNdamental skills of climbing more efficiently. From teachers wishing to use a school traversing wall; through parents supporting their kids in climbing; to young talented climbers helping out on the first steps of the coaching ladder; the Coaching Scheme aims to help them all develop their skills from the outset.

4/ I have already registered for another scheme (CWA or ML for example) do I need to register again?

Yes. Every candidate must register for the Coaching Scheme, regardless of other registrations. But it is a single registration for Foundation and Development Coach levels. Once you have registered you can work your way through the first two levels without further registration.

5/ I am a holder of the Single Pitch Award (SPA). Do I need to do my Climbing Wall Award (CWA) or Climbing Wall Leading Award (CWLA) before I can register?

No. For registration, there is a minimum of site specific accreditation for Foundation Coach, and a minimum of CWA for Development Coach. If you hold the SPA (or any higher climbing qualification), then you are able to prove your competency to supervise a climbing wall session(s) as long as you are current and up to date with best practice. If it has been a while since your SPA assessment, you may like to consider some climbing wall specific CPD to bring you up to date. The CWA/CWLA training, or one of several workshops delivered by the professional associations, would be an ideal way to do this.

6/ Why do I have to be a member of a mountaineering council before I can register?

In the case of the Coaching Scheme, the BMC/Mountaineering Scotland FUNdamentals workshops are essential prerequisites. The sooner you join, the sooner you can complete all these modules. Find out more about the benefits of Mountaineering Council membership.

7/ Where do I find details of 'Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Sport' workshops?

There are many providers of appropriate safeguarding courses, but we would recommend an approved course, accredited by UK Coaching (formerly Sports Coach UK) as a benchmark. Please visit the UK Coaching website for details of the courses, and to find a course near you.

8/ What do I need to enter into DLOG?

Think of DLOG as your climbing CV. You need to evidence your experience of a technical understanding of what to coach, as well as developing your experience of how to coach more effectively. Hence, it is important to log your own personal experience of climbing, as well as the sessions when you have supervised and coached others. Previous log books can be scanned and uploaded as supporting files.

9/ To what standard am I supposed to be climbing for the Foundation Coach scheme?

There is no specific grade requirement for Foundation Coach. Coaches need to have an adequate understanding of climbing to understand the FUNdamental principles of climbing movement and how to coach them. Hence the less experienced and talented the coach may be as a climber, the more creative they will have to be in providing clear demonstrations for their climbers, and subsequently analysing their observation of a climber’s skills.

10/ I’ve already got loads of experience of coaching climbing and/or other sports. What are the options for direct entry?

We recognise that there will be lots of experienced coaches who wish to gain entry at a higher level, especially at the start of a new scheme. But you will have to submit an application to have your prior learning accredited.

Once you have registered for the scheme, and completed your DLOG, you should make yourself familiar with the content of the scheme, the courses, and the supporting modules. You can then contact Mountain Training to provide examples and evidence of prior learning to replace the stages of the scheme that you wish to bypass. All applications will be processed by a screening committee, and we would expect to give you confirmation (one way or another) within a couple of weeks. Every application will be dealt with on an individual basis.

For each level of the Coaching Scheme (Foundation, Development, or Performance Coach) a candidate has to demonstrate experience and competency in three main strands: technical competency to supervise a climbing wall session(s); technical understanding of climbing to develop appropriate decisions regarding “what to coach”; coaching knowledge in order to demonstrate “how to coach” and deliver in an effective manner.

11/ I am confident that I can satisfy the criteria for direct entry. How do I apply?

If you have read the syllabus and guidance in the Coaching Scheme Handbook, and can provide alternative examples of prior learning and competency in the key areas of the scheme, you may apply for direct entry. It is possible to enter the Coaching Scheme at any stage up to Development Coach assessment. The process is as follows:
  • Register for the scheme
  • Read the syllabi and guidance, along with the scope and pathway for each qualification
  • Add enough entries of your previous experience in the Mountain Training digital logbook (DLOG) to give a representative impression of the depth and breadth of your experience.
  • Upload supporting (or previously recorded) evidence of experience in the CV section of the DLOG (most file formats are supported)
  • Upload a document (ideally a word document) that outlines the stage of the scheme at which you would like to enter; your reasons for direct entry; how you satisfy each of the prerequisites for the previous levels of the scheme; and how you propose to evidence prior learning to take the place of key elements of previous levels of the scheme.
  • Remember to make sure you have demonstrated your technical competency in: session supervision; what to coach; how to coach at the required level for your chosen entry point.
  • Send a covering email requesting to apply for direct entry to This email should summarise your reasons for direct entry as outlined above.

12/ I have applied for direct entry. What happens now?

As long as you have provided all the required information, outlined above, your application will proceed to the Mountain Training screening committee. This committee will process applications in batches, so you may have to wait couple of weeks before getting a response. The committee will then meet and discuss your application (against others) and decide if your request for direct entry will be accepted. In the event of a positive result, your record on the Candidate Management System will be updated, and you will be able to book on to a course of your choice. In the event of an unsuccessful application, you may be requested to supply further information, advised to apply again in the future, or encouraged to attend a course at a lower level in the scheme.

13/ How will I know when I am ready for assessment?

It is possible to share access to your DLOG with an assessor long before booking an assessment. In other schemes, the assessment event is seen as the primary assessment, with further supporting evidence in the log book. In the Coaching Scheme it is the other way around. The primary element of the assessment is your logged experience of coaching, and then the assessment event confirms that you are operating at the required standard. Please consult your chosen provider to share your logged experience, and to find out if you are ready.

14/ In the syllabus it states that we have to be able to demonstrate climbing at a particular level. Is this assessed on the day?

No. It is important that our climbing coaches have a minimum practical understanding of climbing movement. Hence we require that you log some climbing experience at the specified standard. This is unlikely to be specifically assessed as part of the assessment course. However, if your lack of climbing ability hampers your coaching delivery, this may form a part of any action plan should you fail to meet the required standard.