Volunteer & Coaching FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


How can I become a Special Olympics volunteer?

You must be 14 years of age or older to be a volunteer with Special Olympics. Most recurring volunteer roles will require an interview, references, a police reference check and training. The first step is to choose what type of volunteer role you are interested in.

Apply to be a volunteer 

Your application form will be forwarded to a community registrar or your program of interest. A member of Special Olympics will then contact you about your application. Based on your interests and availability we’ll connect you with an opportunity near you!

How does Special Olympics train volunteers?

All volunteers will receive both formal and informal training while getting registered, including a volunteer orientation. The type of volunteer role will determine the depth of training required. For example, coaches are required to take at least one of the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) courses. Please visit our Coaching roles page for more information.

What is the first step for new volunteers?

In order to make sure that both our athletes and volunteers get the most out of our programs, Special Olympics Canada has developed an online volunteer orientation to provide information to new volunteers on what we do, who we serve and what they need to know to get started. All volunteers and coaches must complete the online volunteer orientation by Special Olympics Canada.

Please visit the online orientation. 


If your responsibilities will include any of the following, you are required to complete a full onboarding process
  • Regular close contact with athletes
  • A position of authority/trust or supervisory capacity with athletes
  • Handling substantial amounts of cash or other assets of the Program

If not, you can complete the abbreviated onboarding process which will not require you to have a police information check, NCCP training for coaches and completion of an annual disclosure form. A Special Olympics Alberta representative will walk you through this process.



How can I apply to become a coach?

Apply to be a volunteer

How does Special Olympics  train its coaches?

All volunteers who coach with Special Olympics in Canada receive their sport-specific training from a national sport organization (NSO). This approach, which is used by many other sport organizations in Canada, has been developed to ensure every coach receives appropriate training that is beneficial to all those involved.


For information on coaching workshops, please visit the Coaching Association of Canada website at coach.ca or visit one of the sport-specific sites below:

For more details on sport specific coaching course, please check our Sport Specific Coaching Courses.

How do Special Olympics coaches become certified?


With the Coaching Association of Canada and within the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), Special Olympics has created a set of coaching courses. The NCCP is Canada’s recognized training and certification program that works with a variety of coaches.
Our NCCP coaching program focuses on what a coach can do, instead of what a coach knows. It provides the knowledge and skills that will lead to enhanced ability and attitudes to successfully coach in the Special Olympics environment, ultimately giving the athletes the best sporting experience.
How will the new program help me to become a better coach?
The NCCP has been specifically designed to train coaches to be able to meet the needs of the specific athletes they are coaching. Coaches will participate in training opportunities that will enable them to return to their coaching environment with specific skills that can be implemented immediately. Depending on the training stream – Community or Competition – coaches will learn to:
  • plan safe and effective practices;
  • make ethical decisions;
  • design a basic sport program;
  • analyze performance;
  • provide support to athletes in training;
  • support the competitive experience;
  • manage a program.
How do I know where I fit into the NCCP?

The type of training you will access will depend on the type of program/athlete you are coaching, or intend to coach. The NCCP structure is based on athletes’ needs, which are identified within streams and contexts.

  • Community Sport Stream
    Contexts: Initiation and Ongoing Participation
  • Competition Sport Stream
    Contexts: Introduction, Development, and High Performance
I have heard the words “trained” and “certified” used. What is the difference?
“Trained” is a designation that coaches receive when they have completed all required training activities to be a particular type of coach.
“Certified” is a designation that coaches receive when they have completed all required evaluation activities to be a particular type of coach.
How will my training and/or certifications be recorded?
After a coach accesses their first training or evaluation activity they will receive what is referred to as a CC#. The CC# will provide the coach with access to the NCCP database so that they can view all of the requirements they have met, and any remaining requirements to be a certain type of coach (e.g., Community, Competition).
How do I achieve certification?
Coaches wishing to be certified will be required to demonstrate their ability to achieve requirements identified for their coaching context in areas such as:
  • program design;
  • practice planning;
  • performance analysis;
  • program management;
  • ethical coaching;
  • support to athletes during training;
  • and support to athletes in competition.
Special Olympics coaches wishing to be certified in their sport will be evaluated within their Special Olympics program. A trained, sport-specific evaluator will complete the evaluation. This provides a great opportunity for feedback and ensures quality programs for our athletes. The specific evaluation tools have been piloted in sport-specific Special Olympics programs.
For more details on coach education in Canada and the new NCCP, visit www.coach.ca, the official site for the Coaching Association of Canada.
If you have any questions or concerns about coaching that are not answered here, please do not hesitate to contact our director of sport, Jill Moore, jmoore@specialolympics.ab.ca or call 780-415-0719.