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What Is A Sports Development Officer?

What’s a sports development officer? This can be one of the most difficult questions to answer when you’re trying to market your program or sell it to potential funding sources. After all, it may seem like simply what it sounds like somebody in charge of developing sports programs and facilities.

But this really understates the importance of this role in today’s world of youth sports. It also doesn’t capture the breadth of this important job, which can have many different names and titles depending on where you are, what organization you work for, and even who your boss is!

The Reason Sports Development Officers Exist

The United States Olympic Committee is responsible for all U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports. Its goal is to spread awareness of all Olympic events and cultivate interest in them among Americans, including young people.

To do so, it employs hundreds of full-time development officers across America who work within their given sport communities to ensure its success in future Olympiads. For example, track and field has just over 200 full-time development officers based in every state.

A Day in the Life of a Sports Development Officer

Sports development officers and sports leadership typically work on projects, conferences and events that provide recreational opportunities for people with disabilities. While some sports development officers work with one specific sport or type of recreation, many are generalists working in areas including water sports, wheelchair basketball and boccia for those who have cerebral palsy.

Additionally, sports development officers provide awareness programs to inform people about adaptive sports, teach basic skills to groups such as children’s summer camps and work with agencies on creating new sporting activities for people with disabilities. The nature of these jobs also means they can be quite busy in season when there is activity around a particular sport. The non-seasonal time can allow more time for involvement in other projects, like educational activities like classes or workshops.

How to Become a Sports Development Officer

Sports development officers (SDOs) are sport professionals who promote sport and physical activity through community outreach. As an SDO, you’ll work with school districts, YMCAs, recreation departments, and other organizations to increase participation in sports and physical activity for all ages. You might also serve as a liaison between local businesses and athletic clubs to secure space for games or matches. In some cases, your duties may include supervising competitive teams.

This can include evaluating team members’ skills and progress, implementing training programs, and giving motivational speeches at tryouts. In order to become an SDO, you should have experience working with kids at an after-school program or recreational center (or similar), along with good communication skills and some coaching experience.

Salary and Job Outlook for Sports Development Officers

While sports development officers may sound like a kind of consultant or referee, it’s actually an increasingly common job title for people who help facilitate sports and physical activities in their communities. The BLS projects that jobs for athletic coaches, scouts, and trainers will grow by 15 percent from 2014 to 2024—faster than average for all occupations.

Demand will increase as more people become interested in sports and seek out opportunities to improve their physical fitness levels. Additionally, many public schools are cutting staff due to funding issues while at the same time needing more resources to maintain school programs such as sports teams.

The Best Advice for Future Sports Development Officers

Athletes and parents will be looking to you for advice and support, but it’s important that you don’t give unsolicited advice. Often times, athletes are looking for guidance or just want to talk to someone who gets it. By creating a safe space where they can talk openly about their struggles, you’ll gain insight into what they need help with most. Then when there is an opportunity to give advice or specific strategies, you’ll have already built trust and credibility with them.

What is the best time to look for a job?

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to job searching. If you’re really passionate about starting your own business, then go for it; most of these rules should just be considered common sense. But if you want to learn more about what it takes to look for a job, take a look at our guide on how to research jobs.

What is the job of a sports development officer?

A sports development officer is a great way to give back to your community and connect people with fitness. You may be wondering,  What is that exactly? A sports development officer is trained in physical activity and sport participation. You will help create programs for kids, adolescents, adults, or seniors to get involved in athletics. These can include any kind of athletic activity you can think of from track and field to rugby.

Sports Development OfficerTo do so, you will work closely with many other organizations including local governments and nonprofit associations. A great thing about being a sports development officer is you will have hands-on experience working with many different individuals! Additionally, these jobs are typically flexible around your schedule as they are more focused on helping others participate in fun physical activities rather than playing professional athletes yourself.

Why do sports development officers work?

In many ways, sports development officers are very similar to any other marketing employee. The biggest difference is that most of their job involves building relationships with potential customers instead of selling directly to them. For example, they might talk to professional sports team owners or school athletic directors in an effort to increase support for their organization’s programs.

When they do sell, they’ll usually be focused on providing free promotional material rather than charging customers. Typically working in offices or other non-physical locations, sports development officers can work virtually anywhere; however, there are some regional variations on what it means to be a sports development officer and where you can find them.

What is a sports development officer job description?

As an officer in sports development, you’ll implement and oversee policies and initiatives that encourage healthy lifestyles within your community. You’ll need to assess what resources are available for individuals who want to partake in different sports, understand their limitations, and work with municipal officials to address any gaps. From identifying areas of concern to conducting focus groups, you may find yourself taking on many different responsibilities over time.

One of your main goals will be helping local residents make informed decisions about fitness based on local conditions—but these decisions may also have implications for policy makers as well. If you’re comfortable balancing several tasks at once while maintaining excellent communication skills, you might enjoy a career as a sports development officer!

Who are the best candidates for this job?

The answer will depend on your business, but it’s best to look for candidates who have experience in managing budgets and projects. They should also be able to communicate effectively with various sports community stakeholders. No doubt about it:

This is not a job for people who shy away from public speaking or working under pressure. We recommend you hire someone smart, hardworking and energetic, because if you don’t have those three qualities yourself, they’re going to have to come from somewhere else!


A sports development officer is an employee of a sports club or organization that assists with overseeing player and team development. A sports development officer may assist with ensuring their players have access to education and training opportunities, marketing strategies, match management, and other factors necessary for success. These professionals also promote overall wellness of their players as well as work closely with medical staff to make sure all injuries are treated.

A sports development officer will often oversee coaching teams who teach fundamental skills and trainings for new athletes in order to ensure consistency between practices. These officers can coach at all levels including professional or semiprofessional teams. While there isn’t an official certification for becoming a sports development officer, some organizations may require coaches to complete training before accepting them into their program.

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