Posted on Tuesday 8th August, 2023

Paralympics New Zealand, supported by community partner ACC, has today launched LevelUp. It’s a new series of online modules for sports coaches. They are designed to help coaches gain the skills and confidence for coaching disabled athletes. 

Paralympics New Zealand CEO Greg Warnecke explains:

“This is a really important resource for the sector. It removes a barrier that has stopped disabled people from being able to participate in sport.

“The initiative has been borne out of coaches telling us that they are scared of doing the wrong thing, or they don’t know how to coach disabled athletes. LevelUp will help them coach effectively and creatively – and most importantly give them the confidence to include everyone.”

The free-to-use resources have been designed with coaches, to make sure they are fit for purpose. They cover topics such as “What is Para sport?”, terminology, classification, and coaching considerations for a wide range of impairments – from limb deficiencies to intellectual impairment. The material complements existing coach development resources provided by National Sport Organisations.

Para athlete Peter Cowan (waka ama) with a classifier

PNZ community partner ACC was thrilled to come on board. As CE Megan Main explains:

“What we love about LevelUp is that it’s for coaches in any sport, no matter whether they’re just starting out, or looking to grow their coaching skills. Everyone can benefit. At ACC we see first-hand the value of active recreation in rehabilitation after an accident. That’s why we’re excited about the impact LevelUp is going to have for disabled New Zealanders.”

A coach is coaching disabled athletes in Para athletics

Para athletics coach Steve O’Kane believes the modules would have saved him “hundreds of hours” of looking for the information on his own.

“The LevelUp modules would have given me such progress with my coaching of disabled athletes. I’ve been coaching for over 20 years, but when I first started with Para athletes 5 years ago, I had no experience at all. I had no knowledge of how their condition was going to impact on their participation in athletics.”

PNZ hopes more coaches will take the journey O’Kane took, and include disabled athletes – but without hundreds of hours of study.

Promotional video about LevelUp

The modules for coaching disabled athletes are designed to be absorbed in bite-size chunks. They are easy for coaches to access in their own time, at their own pace. They are hosted on Sport Tutor. This is a Sport NZ learning platform already used by many National Sport Organisations for coach development.

As Coach O’Kane puts it:

“Grab the opportunity. Sign up for this course. Both you and your athletes will grow.”