Delivering digital change for the UK’s lead coaching charity

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We delivered digital change for the UK’s lead agency in coaching, providing sports coaches with critical resources on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

About UK Coaching

UK Coaching is a registered charity, supporting sports coaches across all levels and disciplines in the UK.

By collaborating with the largest sporting bodies in the country, such as the English Cricket Board, UK Coaching works to make lasting improvements to the level and quality of coaching in the country. By pooling resources, they impact performance from grassroots to elite levels, informing government policy and helping to inspire dreams of people across the British Isles.


Reading Room has been working with UK Coaching since 2017, after being commissioned to redevelop its core digital estate. This has been a fruitful partnership, with our work integral to its evolving digital services.

This work with UK Coaching highlighted that training and services needed to be moved online to reach and engage more members – this need was expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the nation entered lockdown in 2020, UK Coaching had to immediately halt its training programs, both at national events and face-to-face.

These services drastically needed to be moved completely online – meaning that the UK Coaching website needed to be able to accommodate promotion and booking for these sessions. An additional requirement was to be able to provide support for people disproportionately affected by the pandemic – those in economically challenged areas – through the delivery of mental health training.

UK Coaching also sought to offer insurance products through the website – something that had previously only been done through third parties. This meant the addition of e-commerce modules to the site to allow people to find and purchase the right insurance product. This would allow them to better support members, with financial protection more necessary than ever.


Through in-depth discovery and user research, we had already laid the foundations for digital change for UK Coaching, implementing technical features to improve onsite experience for its users, which included:

· Implementation of a Single Sign-On (SSO) mechanism between the main website and the LearnUpon Learning Management System (LMS) where courses are held

· Creation of an API integration with UK Coaching’s workshop system, IRIS

· Adding a booking engine for courses held in the IRIS system

With these elements completed, there was now a solid foundation for the work necessary to move UK Coaching away from what had been a traditional model of doing business and into a completely digital model. The next phase of the project would make it easier to engage in UK Coaching’s core services online – helping users find information, locate the courses that match their interests, and book onto those courses online.

To make it easier for their users to find information on new courses, we implemented a Recommendation Engine. UK Coaching had lacked the administrative capabilities to correctly tag and organise all the content on their site, meaning that users were not always seeing content that was most relevant to them. Utilising Azure Cognitive Services Personaliser, we were able to create functionality on the site to recommend courses and content to users, tailored to their specific interests and previous searches. This engine also ensures that users will not see any information around courses they have already completed when searching for training.

To be able to fulfil UK Coaching’s desire to provide support and services to economically challenged areas, we completed a post-code validation project. Users can now enter their post-code when searching for courses to see if they qualify for free training courses, granting access to those who may not have been able to receive it otherwise.

All these individual pieces of work have added up to create a very different experience for UK Coaching and its users, one that has enabled them to maintain services the organisation provides across communities throughout the UK.


We worked closely with UK Coaching to develop a sustainable roadmap, supported by a data-driven, user-centric approach, allowing a process of continuous evolution for the platform adapted to the needs of its users. This approach was tested by the COVID-19 pandemic and has proven to be a success.

The discovery process enabled us to identify the need for digital services early – instead of scrambling on the backfoot when the pandemic arrived, we ensured that UK Coaching was well prepared. The transformation of their services has seen UK Coaching survive a challenging period, and thrive – with the past 18 months resulting in:

· 10.4k free enrolments from economically challenged areas to the Mental Health Awareness for Sport & Physical Activity eLearning course.

· 38.6K enrolments in total to the Mental Health Awareness for Sport & Physical Activity eLearning course – a 3760% increase on pre-pandemic figures.

· 11.6k enrolments to a new course – Sudden Cardiac Arrest eLearning – a free course teaching people how to respond to sudden heart failure, such as what happened to Danish footballer Christian Eriksen during Euro 2020.

· 2.5K subscriptions to the UK Coaching Club - a 14% increase from the previous year

· The overall number of sessions of the website has increased by 50% compared to the previous year, totalling 930,000.

· 53.3K registrations to UK – only a slight decrease from pre-pandemic levels, meaning that the lack of in-person events in the last 12 months has barely affected these numbers.

The training provided by UK Coaching has been vital for communities across the country. These valuable services were made possible by the succession of projects delivered over the last 18 months by Reading Room, and we are excited to continue this relationship as UK Coaching’s digital platform continues to evolve.

“The Reading Room team continues to exceed our expectations. We have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with them. They were instrumental in our digital transformation and have provided unparalleled insight. By optimising our User Journey and by delivering a solid and stable platform, we've been able to keep business continuity when most businesses are feeling the impact of the pandemic.”Ben Dickens, Head of Technology, at UK Coaching