Triathlon is a hugely popular sport which is currently experiencing rapid growth nationwide. In Britain there are over 500 triathlon clubs which consist of complete beginners and recreational members right through to elite athletes competing in national and international competitions. Membership across England and Wales has seen an increase of approx 9,000 over the past 7 years. Much of the recent growth can be attributed to the 2012 London Olympics and the continued success of the Brownlee brothers who have become household names after Alistair's Gold and Jonathan's Bronze medals in London, and further success on the 2012 World Triathlon Series where Jonathan took 1st place in the overall standings.
The main body for the sport is British Triathlon, they have set the framework for the development of coaching in Great Britain across all levels. The specific coaching courses including the level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications are organised by each home nation, so Triathlon England, Welsh Triathlon and Triathlon Scotland, although each programme has been developed in line with the UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC).
Level 1 Award in Coaching Triathlon (L1ACTRI)
The Level 1 award is the base qualification for those wanting to coach triathlon. It is aimed at those new to teaching/ coaching or those who don't have any experience of triathlon, so it really is the first port of call for anyone starting out. The course will give you an introduction to the sport and the three technical disciplines (swim, bike, run), as well as general coaching skills. On completion, the holder of the L1ACTRI will be expected to have good knowledge of the sport in terms of the technical aspects and what constitutes good coaching practice, and they'll be able to assist a more experienced coach (L2CCTRI or higher) in group sessions. The course consists of 2 full learning days, 5-10 hours of home study (including written tasks), and 1 assessment day which will include delivering a practical session and a short exam of your general triathlon knowledge.
Course cost approx £275
Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Triathlon (L2CCTRI)
If you already possess your L1ACTRI, you have some informal coaching experience or you have 1 year's involvement in triathlon (training, racing etc), you will be able to work towards your L2CCTRI. The course aims to develop you into a good club session coach, allowing you to plan and lead training sessions to beginners and intermediates of all ages. The programme looks at the technical side of the sport in greater depth, including sports science, swimming technique analysis, bike set up, improving fitness, open water swimming and injury prevention. The course consists of 6 full days (over 5-6 months), to include 4 learning days, 2 assessment days and 40-60 hours of home study, so as you would expect it will require more commitment on the participants behalf.
Course cost approx £495
Level 3 Certificate in Coaching Triathlon (L3CCTRI)
This is the highest triathlon coaching qualification you can get and is for those dedicated and committed to coaching at top level. The prerequisites are far more stringent; you must already be Level 2 qualified with 2 years coaching experience and 60 hours logged coaching (20 in swim, bike and run), and you need a reference from a senior coach or a club chair. The course content focuses on each discipline in greater detail and more emphasis is put on technology improvements, analysis and performance testing. Once qualified you'll be able to coach both groups and individuals from beginners through to experienced and age group athletes. The course is extremely detailed and is spread over 9 days (7-9 months), which includes the latest coaching techniques and guest speakers from the industry.
Course cost approx £1,150
Employment Opportunities in Triathlon
Employment opportunities may be few and far between but that's not to say you can't forge a career in triathlon coaching. New triathlon jobs with British Triathlon are always listed on the their website so it's worth keeping an eye on that as well as local sports and council websites which may occasionally feature suitable positions. Independent sports coaching companies are worth contacting to register your interest, at the time of writing one such company called T2Coaching.co.uk is currently looking for triathlon coaches to cope with increased demand following the Olympics. Perhaps your best bet is to keep your ear to the ground and talk to people in your local club and clubs from other areas as you may hear of jobs or further opportunities on the grapevine.