Principles of Coaching for Special Olympics

Special Olympics


Since the introduction of the Special Olympics training school for coaches in 1980, more than 265,000 volunteer coaches have been trained in seminars or courses conducted around the world. In reviewing the evaluations of these coaches'training seminars, a comment appeared repeatedly of the wish that more time could have been spent in the seminar. West Virginia University Continuing & Professional Education, College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, and Special Olympics can now offer this online course as a result of those repeated requests.

Cost: $35. Average completion time for the course is 25-30 hours.


By completing the course, the student will learn to:

  • Develop an understanding of Special Olympics and identify a coaching philosophy.
  • Apply the sport management team approach in recruiting athletes, volunteers, and family members and in developing training plans for conducting sport-specific training programs for Special Olympics athletes.
  • Identify practical methods for enhancing Special Olympics athlete performance by developing sport confidence through effective coaching techniques.
  • Apply the principles of strength, endurance, coordination, agility and flexibility training and nutrition to enhance sport-specific performance as they apply to the Special Olympics athlete.
  • Provide the safest environment for Special Olympics athletes during training and competition.

Course Structure and Schedule

Module 1:  Understanding Philosophy
Module 2:  Sports Planning for the Coach
Module 3:  Coaching Sport Skills and Developing Sport Confidence
Module 4:  Sport-Specific Performance Training and Nutrition for Special Olympics Athletes
Module 5:  Sport Safety and Risk Management

This is a non-credit course, and the student can register at any time during the year.  Average completion time for the course is 25-30 hours. The course cost is $35 per registration, and a certificate for course completion will be issued to the student based on instructor approval.


It is recommended that coaches have Special Olympics Skills Course certification (entry-level certification) or a coaching or competition background of five or more years at the high school or college level.

Computer Requirements

  • Internet Explorer
  • Adobe Reader
  • Quick Time Player
  • Macromedia Flash Player
  • Java

(Free software plug-ins are available in the "Getting Started" area of the course.)

All Students: Using Internet Explorer (IE) 10? Read info on eCampus Main Page


The Principles of Coaching for Special Olympics Coach Workbook is provided for the course as well as other resources. There is no required textbook.

Instructor Information

Former athlete, teacher, coach, motivator and innovator… Annette Lynch has amassed experience from over 25 years with Special Olympics (beginning at SOI in 1989 as basketball director, extending to Special Olympics Maryland as vice president of sport development and education) and currently as senior manager of coaching excellence and sport education. Her major focus and passion is sport education with development of the first Special Olympics Coach Education System and oversight of coach development (education; recruitment; retention; recognition including the materials and tools to support them), the train-the-trainer program, athlete leadership, Unified Sports®, SONA university curriculum, and relationships with international and national governing bodies such as the USOC, NCAA, SHAPE, AAPAR, NCACE, etc. She is also the liaison with the United States Leadership Council’s Sport Committee, providing oversight of the Coach Development Resource Group as well as the Unified Sports and Program Excellence Subcommittees plus the Penn Relays. Recently, Annette oversaw the revision of the Principles of Coaching Course and the development, creation and launch of three online courses: Principles of Coaching for Special Olympics, Coaching Special Olympics Athletes and Coaching Unified Sports.

Prior to Special Olympics, Annette assembled over 40 years in sport education, teaching and coaching. Her formative education and sport experience includes a Bachelor's of Science degree at Illinois State University, majoring in health and physical education, minoring in psychology, and competing in basketball, field hockey, golf, track and field, and volleyball. After graduation, Annette played on the USA Women's Basketball Team for three years, taught and coached in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Virginia. While in Pennsylvania and at Lehigh University, she acquired her Master's degree in education with an emphasis on human development (counseling). Finally, she has extensive experience in coaching at every level: junior high (Indian Valley and Easton, PA), high school (North Kansas City, MO, and Easton, PA), NCAA Division II (Lehigh University), NCAA Division I (Northwestern University and University of Rhode Island), and Special Olympics (1990-1999) plus coaching the West team at the USOC’s Olympic Festival.

Registration Information 

Register Online by adding your course to cart through our secure server. You will be receiving email with your online course access information within five working days. Please check your spam or junk folder in case the confirmation email was misplaced there. Call 1-800-253-2762, or email if you have any questions. Major credit cards are accepted.

Check our FAQ and Refund Policy for refund and class access information.


Joel Lubovich“This is a must take class for anyone that is involved in Special Olympics. This online class has been an excellent resource for me to refresh and re-learn some of the principals that are used daily in Special Olympic coaching. This is one of the best on-line classes I have ever taken. Thank you very much for offering such a class!”

Terri Manning

"I completed the Principals of Coaching for Special Olympics online training course. The course was easy to access and complete and ideal for me as a busy working mom since I could move through the modules at my own pace as I had time. Most importantly the course is a helpful learning tool which I would recommend for all Special Olympics coaches."

Stephanie Johnson

"Thank you for a wonderful experience in completing the Principles of Coaching for Special Olympics course. I was able to complete with no trouble, and had assistance anytime I needed it. I appreciate that so much!"

Carmen Forbes"The Principals of Coaching for Special Olympics was amazingly easily accessible and an excellent source of information once I was able to overcome the challenges of taking an online course. This course made me think, but I was able to fully recognize how important a coach's approach and techniques mattered when training athletes. Kudos to the instructor Sandy Ryder and the Support Team for their unwavering patience, assistance, and the major role they played that enabled me to complete the course which I highly recommend."

Ed Speas“I recently finished the Principles of Coaching for Special Olympics course. I have been coaching Special Olympics for almost 5 years, and was surprised to find out how much I could still learn. There was a lot of great information to read through, and then review while taking the quizzes. But my favorite part was that this course made me think. A large part of the written work I did made me analyze my own experience, and think about how I could improve. I want to thank my instructor, Sandy, and WVU for all of their hard work in putting this course together. Just like I do with my Special Olympics athletes, they made me work but it sure was a lot of fun. I would recommend this to any coach that wants to improve their skills and make everything we do, help our athletes want to keep coming back for more.”

Joy Cavagnaro

“The course provides an opportunity for coaches to learn new concepts to improve their individual effectiveness, refresh memory on past learnings and importantly take time out to reflect on the what, the why, the how and most especially the who of the captivating Special Olympics enterprise.”

Gilbert Williams

"Enrolling in the SO Coaching course through WVU was one of the best decisions that I have made in recent times. The registration process was very easy and getting started was as simple as beginning to read the coach's manual provided. The information and material provided in this course has significantly enhanced my position as a coach, both with Special Olympics specifically and as a coach in general. In addition to coaching with Special Olympics, I am also a soccer coach in one of the local high schools as well as in the youth league of the Bahamas Football Association and I can say without hesitation that the knowledge gained through this course will be of tremendous value well beyond Special Olympics. In fact, I have already began to employ some of the initiatives both in and out of Special Olympics."

"This course has solidified the knowledge I already had and has provided many new and valuable insights. I would highly recommend this course to ALL coaches, whether involved with Special Olympics or not, but certainly will tout it as a "must do" for all SO coaches. I can truly say that my coaching experience will be greatly enhanced and I trust that all the athletes under my tutelege will be the real beneficiaries of my enhanced knowledge."

"A special thanks to Dr. Sandy Ryder and her team for a well designed, user friendly, information packed course. I can't ever remember investing so little and getting so much in return."