Sports Coach/Official Pouako/Kātipa Hākinakina

Sports coaches/officials coach and instruct athletes, and are the officials in charge of sporting events.

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Sports coaches/officials may do some or all of the following:

  • help athletes learn the skills, rules and tactics of a sport
  • organise practice sessions and develop training programmes and drills
  • motivate teams or individuals
  • identify and encourage talented players
  • select players for teams and events
  • referee, umpire and keep time for sports competitions or games
  • judge and award points in sports competitions
  • look after equipment and ensure players use it correctly.

Training for snowsports instructors

Training through the New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance is required for people who instruct in:

  • skiing
  • snowboarding
  • telemark or free heel skiing
  • adaptive skiing for people with physical disabilities.

Snowsport instructors can also do further study to become trainers, examiners and coaches.

Physical Requirements

Sports coaches/officials need to need have excellent fitness and health.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for sports coaches/officials includes:

  • participating in sport at a competitive level
  • working as an assistant or volunteer coach or official
  • teaching
  • working in sports administration.

Personal Qualities

Sports coaches/officials need to be:

  • fair
  • able to make decisions quickly
  • able to motivate, lead and inspire athletes and teams
  • good at planning, management and organisation
  • patient, tactful, observant and analytical
  • excellent at communicating.


Sports coaches/officials need to have knowledge of:

  • the skills, rules and tactics of the sport they coach or act as officials in
  • coaching and teaching techniques that support a sportsperson's learning and development
  • how different weather conditions could affect an event or a sportsperson's performance
  • sport science and first aid.


Sports coaches/officials:

  • may work long and irregular hours, including early mornings, evenings and weekends
  • work at indoor sports facilities such as sport centres, or outdoors – for example, on rugby fields – in all weather conditions
  • may work in stressful conditions
  • may travel around New Zealand and overseas to sports events and competitions.

Sports Coach/Officials can earn around $47K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Sports Coach/Official are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for professional sports coaches varies depending on the sport and the level at which they coach.

Many sports coaches/officials work part time. Sports coaches working on a casual, part-time basis may start on minimum wage and later earn up to $25 an hour. 

Entry-level, full-time sports coaches usually earn minimum wage or more.

With further experience and coaching success, sports coaches in a few popular sports, such as rugby or cricket, may work as regional or national coaches.

  • Regional coaches usually earn $53,000 to $102,000 a year.
  • National talent coaches who coach individual athletes usually earn $77,000 to $109,000.
  • National coaches for teams usually earn $75,000 to $146,000.

Source: Skills Active and Sport New Zealand, 2017.

Sports coaches/officials usually specialise in a role such as:

Diving Instructor
Diving instructors train and instruct recreational or commercial divers in diving techniques, safety, and the correct use of diving equipment.
Dog or Horse Racing Official
Dog or horse racing officials co-ordinate and direct dog or horse racing activities, and liaise with other officials to enforce racing regulations.
Gymnastics Coach
Gymnastics coaches train and instruct gymnasts by analysing their performances and developing their skills.
Horse Riding Instructor
Horse riding instructors teach people how to ride horses. They analyse the performance of horse riders and jockeys, and develop their skills.
Skydive Instructor
Skydive Instructors teach people how to parachute.
Snowsport Instructor
Snowsport instructors teach people how to ski or snowboard and improve their technique.
Sports Official
Sports officials enforce rules during sporting events or judge the performance of those taking part.
Swimming Coach
Swimming coaches train and instruct swimmers and help them to develop their speed and technique.
Tennis Coach
Tennis coaches work with tennis players to help them develop their skills and technique.

Years Of Training

>1 year of training usually required

Entry requirements for sports coaches/officials vary, as each national sporting body has its own requirements. Usually sports coaches need: 

  • previous experience and success as a sportsperson
  • previous work as a sports coach, which could be on a volunteer basis
  • a good working knowledge of the sport they wish to work in so they can pass theory exams and practical tests.

Sports coaches who work with children may need to pass a police background check and/or hold a first aid certificate.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Coaches who want to work with high-performing sportspeople can apply to the High Performance Sport New Zealand for support such as the Coach Accelerator Programme.

Sports Coach/Official