Minimum requirements for NICAS delivery

This page is a quick reference guide for centres and coaches to check the minimum coaching and physical facility requirements for delivering our schemes:

Please note that NICAS can only be delivered on artificial climbing structures (indoors or outdoors) at accredited centres.


NICAS Wild Climbers

Coach Pre-requisites:

Minimum staff qualifications or training are required to deliver our Wild Climbers content. This includes:

  • Site-specific sign-off, which is competence-based relating to the environment. Requirements will correlate with the minimum requirements for that centre as per NICAS Climbing or NICAS Bouldering registration and approval.
  • CWI training is a minimum requirement for Course Directors at roped climbing centres.
  • Safeguarding training: as per NICAS Centre Handbook requirements for an approved centre.
  • Wild Climbers induction (can be done online – see our induction calendar)
  • Wild Climbers Workshop – this is not mandatory for walls that already deliver NICAS Climbing or NICAS Bouldering, but is strongly recommended as it will bring the games resource to life for coaches.

In summary, staff need to be competent, have appropriate safeguarding training, and have received a Wild Climbers induction.

Facility/Centre Pre-requisites:

  • Traverse wall or vertical climbing of 5 metres or more in height
  • Appropriate safety surface
  • Competent Person (CP) or Technical Advisor (TA)
  • Operating procedure for working with children at a younger age
  • Risk assessments
  • Insurance

The centre needs to meet the same physical requirements as NICAS Climbing Level 1 or NICAS Bouldering Level 1.

If your centre is not currently accredited for NICAS Climbing or NICAS Bouldering, coaches will need to have a full NICAS-led induction after having successfully applied and registered with NICAS to deliver NICAS Clip, NICAS Climbing Level 1 or NICAS Bouldering Level 1.

NICAS requires these items to be in place. NICAS is not responsible for seeing or signing off operating procedures or risk assessments; this is the responsibility of a site Technical Advisor (TA) or Facility Manufacturer (FM).

For all other wall and coach enquiries, including in-person workshop bookings, please get in touch at admin@nicas.co.uk

NICAS Clip

Coach Pre-requisites:

  • In-house sign-off for auto belays, including rescue training delivered by the centre’s Technical Advisor (TA) or Facility Manufacturer (FM). (A CWI qualification is desirable.)
  • Documented safeguarding training (in-house or online) that meets the minimum requirements listed on the NICAS safeguarding webpage: www.nicas.co.uk/safeguarding
  • Attendance of the NICAS Clip Workshop (or a NICAS Clip induction for coaches at NICAS Accredited Centres)

Additionally coaches must:

  • Be familiar with NICAS’ aims, philosophy, syllabuses, assessment criteria and logbooks, and the NICAS Clip candidate registration process
  • Be able to deliver a safety briefing
  • Follow NICAS guidelines and the NICAS Clip syllabus
  • Maintain accreditation standards and a safe working environment

Facility/Centre Pre-requisites:

The NICAS Clip programme can be delivered at an auto belay centre or at a climbing wall with a minimum of 4 auto-belays that have access to appropriately graded lines (F3/3+/4 etc). In addition, a NICAS Clip venue should have the following in place:

  • Public Liability and Employers Liability insurance
  • Annual inspection reports for the climbing structures, equipment and resources
  • Risk Assessments and Standard Operating Procedures (approved by a TA or facility manufacturer)
  • Appropriately qualified coaches (as listed in Coach Pre-requisites)
  • Records of coach qualifications and in-house training
  • Safeguarding Policy

Course Director, who:

  • Registers with NICAS and attends a NICAS Clip Workshop or a NICAS Clip induction
  • Ensures scheme delivery standards
  • Is responsible for delivering or arranging appropriate training and moderation of in-house and freelance/external coaches (using TA or FM if appropriate)
  • Orders materials
  • Arranges payment of annual renewal fee to NICAS
  • Ensures that coaches, candidates (and/or parents) understand the NICAS Clip registration and certification process.

Technical Advisor (TA) or Facility Manufacturer (FM), who:

  • Is familiar with the NICAS Clip syllabus and has attended a NICAS Clip induction
  • Delivers site-specific staff training (including assessment and sign-off)
  • Creates and/or approves Operating Procedures and Risk Assessments
  • Creates or reviews course design
  • Confirms the centre has the appropriate physical and staff resources to deliver the NICAS Clip Scheme.

For all other wall and coach enquiries, including in person workshop bookings, please get in touch at admin@nicas.co.uk

NICAS Climbing

Climbing: Minimum coaching requirements

In addition to a NICAS induction, coaches must also have completed the following qualifications or training:

LevelCourse DirectorIn-house CoachExternal/Freelance Coach
1CWI trained + Site-specific assessedSite-specific assessedCWI assessed
2CWI trained + Site-specific assessed + FUNdas 1Site-specific assessedCWI assessed
3CWI assessed + FUNdas 1&2 /or/
CWI trained + Site-specific assessed + Foundation Coach assessed
Site-specific assessed + FUNdas 1 /or/ Foundation Coach trainedCWI assessed + FUNdas 1&2 /or/
CWI assessed + Foundation Coach assessed
4CWDI + Foundation Coach assessed /or/
CWI + Site-specific assessed + Foundation Coach assessed
CWI + FUNdas 1&2 + Site Specific Training /or/
CWDI trained + FUNdas 1 /or/
CWDI trained + Foundation Coach trained
CWDI + Foundation Coach assessed
5CWDI + Development Coach trained /or/
RCI + CWDI trained + Site-specific assessed + Development Coach trained
CWDI + Foundation Coach assessedNot available to external coaches.

Climbing: Minimum Physical Facility Requirements

LevelRoped ClimbingBouldering / Traverses / Training Areas
13 non-auto belay rope lines: minimum 5m high from top of matting/flooring to bottom of lower-off point.
Minimum of 10 routes, some of which may be rainbow.
Route-setting at least annually.
None required.
26 non-auto belay rope lines: minimum 5m high from top of matting/flooring to bottom of lower-off point.
Minimum of 25 routes, some of which may be rainbow.
Route-setting at least 6-monthly.
Some bouldering required – could be traverses on wall.
If on wall, a foot gap or visual line must be indicated for the higher and lower limits of bouldering.
39 non-auto belay rope lines: minimum 5m high from top of matting/flooring to bottom of lower-off point.
Minimum of 30 set and graded routes allowing demonstration of progression.
Route-setting at least 3 times per year.
Boulder traverse problems of at least 6 moves at the bottom of the climbing wall, independently marked and graded and not forming part of a graded roped climbing route. A foot gap should be included where appropriate, and a maximum bouldering height line marked on the wall. One change of angle. Crash landing surface to meet either BS:EN 1176-1. (outdoors structures) such as wood chippings, or BS:EN12572-2 if indoors, such as rubber crumb or connected gym matting. All matting should form a uniform and secure crash surface. Route-setting at least 3 times per year.
4A dedicated climbing facility with the requirements for Level 3 plus a dedicated lead wall with over 30 set and graded routes in excess of 8m vertical height available at all times.
Frequent route-setting, at least quarterly.
Dedicated bouldering area with permanent full-depth crash matting to meet BS:EN12572-2.
Must offer a minimum of 20 boulder problems over a variety of angles and gradients.
Frequent route-setting, at least quarterly.
(A strength and conditioning area, fingerboard or campus boards are highly desirable.)
5Major climbing facility that is a full member of the ABC.
Must have a dedicated lead climbing wall with over 50 lead routes in excess of 8m vertical height.
Frequent route-setting.
In addition to the above, dedicated bouldering training area with in excess of 30 problems and circuits, with variety of angles and frequent route-setting. Strength and conditioning area, including fingerboard or campus boards.

NICAS Bouldering

Bouldering: Minimum Coaching Requirements

In addition to a NICAS induction, coaches must also have completed the following qualifications or training:

LevelCourse Director & In-house CoachExternal/Freelance Coach
1Site-specific assessedFoundation Coach assessed /or/
CWI + FUNdas 1 /or/
CWI + Foundation Coach trained
2Site-specific assessedFoundation Coach assessed /or/
CWI + FUNdas 1 /or/
CWI + Foundation Coach trained
3Site-specific assessed + FUNdas 1&2 /or/
Foundation Coach trained
Foundation Coach assessed + FUNdas 1&2 /or/
CWI + FUNdas 1&2 /or/
CWI + Foundation Coach assessed
4Development Coach trained /or/
CWI + FUNdas 1, 2 & 3
Development Coach assessed /or/
CWI + FUNdas 1, 2 & 3
5Development Coach assessedNot available to external coaches

Bouldering: Minimum Physical Facility Requirements

LevelBouldering / Traverses / Training AreasDesirable
1Climbing surface 2m high x 6m wide. Minimum of 10 boulder problems and traverses. Crash landing surface of traverse walls that exist in playgrounds to meet BS:EN 1176/1177. All other bouldering walls to meet BS:EN 12572-2.Individually marked problems that are of rising difficulty. Change of angle.
2Permanent structure of length 12m. Minimum of 20 identifiable boulder problems and traverses that offer a distinct range of difficulty to participants (some may be rainbow). Wall must have three changes of angles across its surface. Crash landing surface of traverse walls that exist in playgrounds to meet BS:EN 1176/1177. All other bouldering walls to meet BS:EN 12572-2.An overhang as a change of angle.
3Dedicated climbing facility with a dedicated bouldering area that has a crash matting surface size of >40m² meeting regulations (as above). 30 individual boulder problems that offer a rising scale of difficulty that are reset at least quarterly.A wide variety of angles and ability to route-set.
4Dedicated climbing facility with a dedicated bouldering area of >80m², and meeting crash matting regulations (as above). 60 individual boulder problems that offer a rising scale of difficulty reset at least every two months. Dedicated training area comprising fingerboards/campus boards.Strength and conditioning area (min 16m², can be part of matting surface but must be external to fall zone of any climbing surface).
5Dedicated climbing facility that is a full member of the ABC. It must have a dedicated bouldering area of >160m² and meet crash matting regulations (as above). 120 individual boulder problems that offer a rising scale of difficulty that are reset at least monthly. Dedicated training area comprising fingerboards/campus boards. Strength and conditioning area.Not applicable.

Further info on coaching requirements

  • Before starting to deliver the NICAS schemes, the Course Director and all coaches at the accredited centre must complete an induction.
  • Site-specific training and assessment can only be approved by a qualified Technical Advisor or Competent Person.
  • Site Specific training must be relevant to the scheme level, e.g. lead climbing at NICAS Climbing Level 4.
  • FUNdamentals of Climbing (FUNdas) 1, 2 and 3, Physical Training 1 and 2, and Coaching Children courses are delivered by the BMC in England and Wales, Mountaineering Scotland and Mountaineering Ireland.
  • Foundation Coach, Development Coach and Performance Coach courses are provided by Mountain Training.
  • Coaches holding military or international qualifications will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
  • Minimum coaching requirements for freelance or external coaches are set at a higher level. Find out more about delivering NICAS as a freelance or external coach.

Further info on physical facility requirements

  • Facilities must have enough varied climbing to become an accredited centre and satisfy the logbook requirements.
  • All structures constructed after 2007 must meet the requirements of BS:EN12572 and produce to NICAS, on request, either a statement of conformity to that standard or a statement from a qualified engineer that the structure meets or exceeds those requirements. Structures constructed prior to 2007 should state this explicitly in their application and may be asked to demonstrate equivalent standards.
  • Structures which are outdoors or otherwise exposed to the weather or significant variations in temperature (such as a roofed-over outside space) are restricted on delivery at the higher levels of NICAS Climbing or NICAS Bouldering.
  • Centres wishing to deliver these higher levels where part or all of the structure is outdoors or otherwise exposed to the elements should contact NICAS for guidance.
  • Variations to these guidelines may be considered by NICAS in special circumstances.
  • Final approval for accreditation can only be given by the NICAS Screening Committee.

Full details of our minimum coaching and physical facility requirements for NICAS Climbing and NICAS Bouldering can be found in the NICAS Centre Handbook – this is sent out to attendees upon completion of the NICAS Climbing & Bouldering induction.

If you have specific questions regarding our minimum requirements, please contact us.