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/ What other climbing qualifications do I need in order to operate as a coach?

To attend Foundation Coach training you do not need to hold any climbing qualifications, but for all other levels you will need to be appropriately experienced and qualified to supervise safe sessions in the environment in which you choose to coach. E.g. A site specific sign-off by a Technical Advisor for bouldering; Climbing Wall Instructor for roped climbing; Climbing Wall Development Instructor for coaching lead climbing and Rock Climbing Instructor to coach on single pitch crags etc.

It is also your responsibility to stay current and up to date with best practice. If you completed your climbing qualifications a long time ago, or haven’t used them recently, you may wish to consider some CPD to bring you up to date. As a member of MTA (Mountain Training Association) you can access a whole range of CPD options.

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 some experienced coaches who wish to gain entry at a level higher than Foundation Coach training. You can enter the coaching scheme at Foundation Coach assessment, Development Coach training, and in exceptional cases Development Coach assessment, but you will need to submit an application to have your prior learning accredited (APL). There is no exemption from Development Coach assessment.

To decide whether direct entry is an appropriate option for you first make yourself familiar with the content of the scheme, the courses, and the supporting modules by reading the handbook.

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 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.
Check that you meet all the prerequisites at the level you wish to enter, as well as those of the previous level. You will also need to show evidence of the experience and competencies required in the syllabus.

If you want to go ahead and apply for direct entry follow the instructions in FAQ 11.

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, meet all the prerequisites, and can provide alternative examples of prior learning and competency in the key areas of the scheme, you may apply for direct entry. The process is as follows:
  • Register for the scheme (there is one registration for Foundation and Development Coach)
  • Call mountain Training on 01690 720272 (the office is open Monday – Friday 9am -5pm) to pay the £35 Coaching Scheme APL Fee (this is non-refundable)
  • Mountain Training will then send you the Coaching Scheme APL Request form.
Then:
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • Complete the Coaching Scheme APL Request form and return to Mountain Training

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 be considered by the Mountain Training screening committee. You will be notified of the decision by email, but please note this may take up to 14 days. If your request for direct entry is successful 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.

15/ Do I need to attend the FUNdamentals of Climbing workshops before attending the Coaching Scheme training courses?

Yes. The FUNdamentals of Climbing workshops run by the BMC and Mountaineering Scotland cover the essential movement skills that underpin climbing; this is the ‘what to coach’ element of the scheme. Also covered is an introduction to the stages of physical development in youngsters, and how an understanding of this will inform your coaching activities. At the very least, FUNdamentals 1 should be completed before attending a Foundation Coach training, and both FUNdamentals 1 and 2 before Development Coach training. For England and Wales information about courses if found here: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/fundamentals-workshops and for Scotland here: https://www.mountaineering.scot/activities/indoor-climbing/skills-and-coaching/coaching-workshops/fundamentals

If you have completed a similar course, or have exceptional climbing movement or coaching experience, you can use the APL process outlined in FAQs 10-12 above.

16/ Is my coaching qualification valid outdoors?

Yes. The coaching qualifications are valid in any environment for which you are appropriately experienced and qualified to supervise safe sessions. For coaching climbing or bouldering in a single pitch setting this would be a Rock Climbing Instructor, for coaching multi-pitch lead climbing this would be a Mountaineering Instructor.

17/ I only want to coach in a bouldering wall, do I need to do be a Climbing Wall Instructor to do this?

No. You must be appropriately experienced and qualified to supervise safe sessions in the environment in which you choose to coach. In this case you can complete a site specific sign-off by a Technical Advisor for bouldering instead of a Climbing Wall Instructor assessment. But remember, this will only be valid for the venue/s stated.