I have been involved in coach education for half my life. My passion is to help coaches be all they can be because in turn, while educating coaches, their athletes can also hope to achieve and realize their full potential. But coach education, the way we’ve done it, has failed. It’s failed.
Speaking with people involved in sport around the world will soon find out the world is desperate for quality sports coaches. Not only that, typically nations in sports all over the world will try and develop coaches by making them progress through some sort of coach training program. A level 1 to a level 2 to a level 3 or a bronze to a silver to a gold or there’s a progression from basic coaching to advanced coaching in some format in most countries around the world, and it hasn’t worked.
Why do we know that? If you look at the figures that are coming out of some of the leading nations, leading sporting nations, you’ll see that there’s reduced numbers of people taking up coaching courses to begin with.
Secondly, we know that, of the people actually commence coaching courses, the numbers who complete those courses has also been in decline for some time. We also know that the number of coaches who then return after a period of coaching in the field, we know that they’re not renewing or re-signing up to the coach accreditation or the coach licences that might be.
There’s very very few coaches who are coming back in the progress from level 1 to level 2 or from bronze to silver and so on. It’s not working. And why is it not working? Well, if you look at the way coaches really learn, if you understand the way that coaches really learn, they’re doers, they learn by experience.
Coaches learn by coaching. Coaches learn by working with observing and discussing coaching with other coaches. And coaches learn by accessing the information that they need when they need to access it.
Now contrast that, with the way we coached coaches for so long, we put them in a room, we sit them there for 2 days, we expose them to 2 hours of physiology, 2 hours of body mechanics, 2 hours of skill acquisition, an hour of nutrition and so on and so on. And in that context we expect that they’ll absorb all the information and go at it immediately be out to coach well.
There is a better way. Coaching courses at the moment have too much content in them. There’s no need to include physiology, body mechanics, sports nutrition and so on in coaching courses because it’s all freely available on the internet. A lot of the major sports will offer it online. You can access great information on YouTube.
There’s so much information available on those sports science periodization and planning those core units of coaching is available all over the world for any coach who would seek to access that information. Anyone can get anything, anytime, anywhere for free.
When working with coaches and trying to educate coaches, the key is to let them coach.
The next step is to ensure they’ve got access to good coaches, to watch good coaches and give them opportunity to learn from and share with other coaches.
And very importantly, give them a tool where they can access the information they need to help athletes perform and to help them coach more effectively when they need to access it.
Coaching courses, thing of the past. Conferences, workshops, not going to help sports improve the quality of coaching.
Coaches learn by doing. Give them the opportunity to coach.