Rock Climbing Coaching Award Scheme
If you already have some of the qualifications offered by Mountain Leader Training UK then you will be interested to hear that the organisation has recently introduced a new type of course. From October last year, climbers have been able to take part in what MLTUK are calling their Coaching Pathway. MLTUK have not yet released full details for all three stages of the scheme, but the first two awards are available now and the third is coming soon. Let's discuss what we know about this new coaching pathway and how you could benefit from getting involved.
Mountain Leader Training UK is the body responsible for climbing qualifications in this country, and is the umbrella for the current home nation members Mountain Leader Training England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Their current training scheme covers indoor climbing walls and single pitch climbing, mountain instructor award and certificate, and British Mountain Guides. More information about which can be found on our courses page. The great news about the new pathway is that it will allow your current qualifications to count towards the new scheme. This makes perfect sense as those who have already demonstrated ability under their existing set of qualifications can bring their skills to the new scheme and are not required to start again.
For quite a few years, some people felt there was a gap in the awards offered to pure climbers. Once you are a good technical climber, you may find your abilities stretch quite a bit beyond the relatively basic Climbing Wall Award, and the Single Pitch Award. The next real qualification was the Mountain Instructor Award – a fantastic award with climbing at its core, but for which you need to take the Mountain Leader Award too – something designed to allow you to lead walking groups in mountainous areas. There is certainly nothing wrong with the MIA route, but some are just interested in pure climbing and not mountaineering per say.
What happened next was you had competent climbers teaching the next generation of climbers, but not to any standardised format. You could have two groups of new climbers, being taught by two different and equally accomplished instructors, but the method of teaching could be completely different. By introducing the coaching pathway, MLTUK aim to qualify a new generation of climbing coaches who will introduce and standardise the teaching practices for newcomers to the sport. This new development is fantastic for climbers who want to get involved in teaching because it recognises their talents with an industry standard award, and makes them more attractive to students who will look for courses run to the new industry standards.
How does the Coaching Award Scheme work?
Split into three levels, the Coaching Award Scheme includes Foundation Coaching Award, the Development Coaching Award and the Performance Coaching Award. The first two are already being offered and the full handbook can be downloaded from MLTUK's website here. The third is a work in progress and we will update this article when more information is known! In a nutshell, the aim of the scheme is to get would be coaches thinking about what they need to be coaching, to make sure they are technically competent to undertake coaching, and how to make their coaching more effective.
How to get involved
There are a few ways to get started on the coaching award scheme pathway. If you are taking the training rather than using your existing experience to put towards the assessment, then you need to be at least sixteen years of age and you should have more than six months of climbing experience. Before you can 'sit the exam', you will also need the Climbing Wall Award or site specific wall accreditation and you must attend the Fundamentals of Climbing 1 training module and the Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Sport workshop. You also need to complete an online log book, as well as prepare some examples of lesson plans.
Foundation Coaching Award
As with most entry level NGB awards, the foundation award is designed for those starting out in coaching, and who are looking to coach beginners and taster sessions. The award will be ideal for those working at activity centres, teaching children, or at indoor climbing walls where they may work under the supervision of a development level coach. The actual training is a one day course and the assessment, which you take after a period of consolidation, lasts around one hour. You are looking at around £100 - £150 to cover both training and assessment, so as NGB awards go, it is not going to break the bank.
Development Coaching Award
The next step up, is the aptly named development coaching award. This climbing award is for those who will be coaching climbers who are interested in developing their own abilities. They will often help foundation coaches, so will not only be involved in coaching people who may only be interested in their own personal climbing skills, but also mentoring and bringing on other coaches.
To get on this course you will either need to have progressed from the Foundation level or have accredited prior learning (in other words, you will need to satisfy MLTUK that you are already of a suitable standard to bypass the foundation level award!). You will also need to be eighteen years old, have at least twelve months of climbing experience and have attended the Fundamentals of Climbing 2 workshop.