Our cookies

We use essential cookies to make our website work smoothly for you. To make sure we're always improving, we'd like to use analytics to track how people use the site. We won't set non-essential cookies unless you give us permission. You can find more information about all the cookies we use in our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Some cookies are a must for our website to function properly. If you turn off essential cookies, it may affect how you experience our site.

The non-essential cookies we use help us understand how you use our website and make improvements to enhance your experience.

Boy sat on a bench in a sports hall putting his hand up to ask a question

Child-first Coaching Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Children and young people have the right to be active. It’s essential if they’re to lead healthy, happy, and full lives, now and in adulthood.

The Children’s Coaching Collaborative believes that when children make choices, they are far more likely to be retained within sport and physical activity, but also, they are far more likely to be happier as individuals, because autonomy and empowerment are key to human development and happiness.
Coaching benefits children and young people most when it empowers them to shape their own positive experiences — by playing together freely, learning, and developing as equals, and expressing themselves as individuals.

Child-first coaching is an evidence informed approach that prioritises the fundamental rights of all children and young people in sport and activity, regardless of their age, gender, background or ability. There are three key ingredients of this approach which reflect the rights of children and young people to be heard, to play and to develop. 

These rights will often be referred to as the follow


Children and young people have the right to express their views, which are acted on together in a meaningful way. 

(Right to be heard)


Children and young people the right to play and shape what play looks like.

(Right to play)


Children and young people have the right to develop holistically, in their own way. 

(Right to develop)

Child-first coaching will look different for each child, young person and coach, but the focus on voice, choice and journey is consistent. If we play their way, more children and young people will enjoy being active, with the potential to lead happier and healthier lives.

The Children’s Coaching Collaborative (CCC) is a collective of like-minded organisations with a common purpose and desire to effect change for the better together. The Children’s Coaching Collaborative exists to ensure that every child and young person is at the centre of our coaching practice so more children and young people will realise their rights. 

The primary aim of the CCC is to improve standards and provision of sport and physical activity for children and young people through great coaching, through the Collaborative’s Play Their Way campaign – delivered with 17 sector-wide partners – it has set out clear priorities for a robust response to the research findings.

The CCC recognises the fundamental role that coaches play in enabling children’s enjoyment of sport and physical activity.

Coaches are “an undervalued change agent in a child’s life”. Their style and the culture they create can have a huge impact on children’s levels of motivation. By forming quality relationships and providing enjoyable, creative, autonomous environments, coaches can positively influence the extent to which children value sports, play and exercise.

According to the Coaching in the UK 2019 survey, there are currently 3 million coaches in the UK, and 80 per cent of these engage with children and young people over the course of each year. When you consider that 82% of children who are coached reach high levels of happiness, the role of the coach in developing a lifelong love of being active in children becomes plain to see.

The organisations that make up the CCC are taking a solution-focused, long-term approach to the challenge of raising participation rates and improving children’s experiences of sport and exercise through great coaching, whilst also seeking to improve outcomes and tackle inequalities across all social backgrounds – in particular children from low affluence families, ethnically diverse communities and those with a disability or long-term health condition. 

The CCC includes the following organisations:

As an organisation responsible for developing children's sports coaches, you have the opportunity to create a lasting impact on the lives of countless young people. By supporting the Play Their Way movement, you can help spread the message of child-first coaching and contribute to a nationwide shift towards a more inclusive, supportive, and empowering approach to sport and physical activity.

Together, we can create a new era of coaching that prioritises the rights, voices, and choices of children and young people. Support Play Their Way movement today and help us build a brighter future for the next generation of athletes.

Click here to find out more ways that your Organisation can help amplify the message within and across your networks.

Child-first coaching is a commitment to a human- rights based approach to children’s sport. These principles will guide all of the Collaborative’s actions. Our goal is to make these rights real in practice. The CCC is committed to ensuring that Youth Voice be at the core of all CCC activities. We have consulted with children during the development of the campaign and have plans to strengthen our youth voice mehchanism further, so that children not only respond but actively and meaningfully participate in shaping the movement in future. Click here to find out more about Youth Voice within the Play Their Way campaign. 

We believe that children have the right to play, the right to develop and the right to be heard and we know that is not always the case in movement, physical activity and sport.

We encourage all sector partners that believe in these guiding principles to support their coaching workforce and get involved in the Play Their Way movement.

As a collective of passionate, forward-thinking children’s coaches, educators, policymakers and advocates, the CCC has kickstarted a child-first coaching movement to change the game from the ground up. By listening to children and the adults who coach and care for them, and by bringing together our findings and our practices, we can connect the issues and find what really matters to children in a coaching environment and support coaches in the delivery of child-first practice.

We want all children and young people regardless of age, background or ability to develop a lifelong love for being active. We know that when kids receive GREAT coaching, they experience better happiness levels. To follow what is happening with the Play Their Way movement as it develops sign-up to our database for regular updates.

Children cite fun as the primary reason for participating in organised sport and physical activity and its absence as the main reason for attrition. Barriers to enjoyment can relate to sessions being too serious with a heavy emphasis on skills and competitive success. To find out more about the research that has informed the movement’s conception read our Insights Summary.

The Children’s Coaching Collaborative believes that play is a powerful motivator in driving a child’s development. Play and performance shouldn’t be exclusive of each other. Child-first coaching supports children and young people’s rights to autonomy, empowering them to make decisions about sport for themselves and what their sporting future looks like, rather adult-led notions, which often become hyper-competitive and all about winning.

The shift to Play their Way will challenge the existing delivery of children’s coaching. Driving this cultural shift will require the full support of sector partners, but for the movement to be a success, learning must start from the ground up and will also require the buy-in of the wider coaching community.

Ownership and advocacy for the movement amongst grass-roots coaches – the power of word of mouth – will be vital in building a groundswell of support in local communities.

Join the movement!

Whether as parents, coaches or young people, we all have a role to play in helping create a huge cultural shift in the way we engage children in physical activity, to help them become healthier and happier and to develop them as people. 

Group of teenagers playing rugby


Help spread the word by sharing this website with fellow coaches!


Help spread the word by sharing this website with fellow coaches!