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What are the most important components of coach education?

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What are the most important lessons you have taken from coach education — formal qualification, ongoing CPD, informal learning — lessons that have fundamentally shaped the way you coach?

I recently updated my CV, and it is now overflowing with CPD courses — mostly interesting, and all relevant in some way to the work I am doing, but I suspect that only a few will actually change how I coach (for the better, hopefully).

Which set me wondering about the “minimum set” of qualifications required to call yourself a coach?

What would you recommend?

My starters would have to include

  • appropriate first aid training, probably including concussion awareness
  • appropriate Safeguarding training for every coach working with children and/or vulnerable adults

But what else?


This post was inspired by:

  • the Coaching Plan for England
    • in particular, the proposed new professional standards being developed by CIMPSA and UK Coaching, including a new “coaching children” qualification to apply across sports;
  • the release of the first MOOC from the iCoachKids project
  • an ongoing conversation with a group of coaching colleagues about how best to coach a group of beginners, and the skills needed to do this (and how much we still don’t know, even though we are all “qualified” coaches!).
  • this report from the Aspen Institute on sport participation & physical activity rates in the US — see the section on training for youth coaches

Comments (10)

   
lightining

Hi Andrew, Your starters are a given as most sports require them before you can coach.

There is a big difference in what coaches are looking to do if it is an after schools club or an U8 session where it is a parent helping coach or a performance coach.

For beginners the IcoachKids gives them somethings to look at and then you could challenge them to apply it in their coaching. It is also very flexible and allows the coaches to look at things they feel will benefit them the most.

This will allow you as a group of coaches to work on the things that will benefit you as a group the most and the senior coaches can pose other questions. You could also try to pairing a beginner and more experienced coach as a mentor.

21/12/18
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andrewb62

Hi Gary
I do agree that first aid and safeguarding are now required elements of coach ed in the UK (not sure about elsewhere — seemingly not the case the the US, if the Aspen Institute report, linked to above, is correct).
But I wonder if they are given enough prominence? When I took my first coaching qualification (2009), first aid and safeguarding were “additional” (compulsory) modules, rather than being presented as core skills that were required of coaches.

WRT iCK — I am getting a lot out of the first MOOC (nearly finished chapter 2), but I wonder how relevant it would be for a coach taking a first qualification, or even for a recently qualified one? A lot of the content seems to make sense only in the light of experience gained by actually coaching children.

29/12/18
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koneill44

Andrew,
In addition to the fundamentals of sport and the other physical dimension elements you mentioned (first aid, concussion, etc.), I would recommend a holistic approach of coaching the mind and heart as well. A great resource is 3Dimensional Coaching. Check it out here https://3dinstitute.com

I think it is essential for coaches of all levels so they can learn to be transformational instead of transactional.

Best of luck to you.

26/12/18
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andrewb62

Hi Kerry
A colleague introduced me to the concept of an holistic (or even humanistic) approach to coaching; I think (still struggling a little with the terminology) that there is something in common with athlete-centred coaching, which I certainly buy into.
Definitely something that coaches need to consider, I believe — I’ll be checking out the link to 3d Institute, thanks!

29/12/18
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lightining

Hi

Athlete-centred approach sounds good but is not so easy. So I am lead an afterschools club with P1-P3 with 2 or 3 Youth Coaches helping out. Which means 5-8yr olds who could not really tell you why they are at a session? Then add in a 14/15yr coach who is just starting out or a parent who has asked do you want some help?

I would like them to understand that we want the kids to have fun and then try and get some understanding of the sport (hockey) and a lot of what we do is fundamentals in movement and multi sport skills.

What we are doing for the block of sessions in the New Year is getting the Youth Coaches to plan the sessions as we are going back 2 weeks later to give them time to do this as they will be showing up as if there was a session on.

The coaches have been asked to look at ICK over the Xmas break.

What have you been doing to develop coaches?

29/12/18
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andrewb62

Gary - It would be very interesting to hear what your Youth Coaches take from the iCK MOOC. As I said previously, I am enjoying the course, but some of the content (and especially the activities — optional, I know) assumes a degree of prior experience.

03/01/19
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BillB

Hi Andrew,

Like all the other replies I agree with your starters in coach education, but I think we miss a big trick in terms of the communication skills.
Listening, I mean genuine listening, taking and interest and absorbing what has been discussed. This is particularly relevant with non verbal communication (body language), put yourself in their shoes.
Feedback and reflection that shows you understand and have taken in what the person has said. How to make this clear, relevant and positive.
Questioning and how to question.
Of course many of these skills will be picked up through Informal Learning through time, but more attention should be paid to Non Formal learning (conferences, workshops and clinics). Unfortunately there does not seem to be enough of these opportunities for the non funded sports/minority sports, to share the good practices of the well supported elite sports.

Regards

03/01/19
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andrewb62

Bill - I do agree - coaches need to make better use of “soft skills”, and these probably should be part of formal coach ed (more than simply _instructing_ new coaches to ask more questions, or to “coach the player, not the skill” — needs to address “how” to do this).
Not sure how well the “well supported elite sports” actually do this, however — any coach educators able to comment?

03/01/19
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BarbAugustin

"Coach's Eye" - what the goal technical model should look like; detection and correction of departures from that and when and why not to correct (eg individual biomechanics). I also agree with the earlier comments regarding communication.

07/01/19
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andrewb62

Hi Barb - thanks for this.
Do you think then, that coaches need to be able to define and identify the goal technical models for themselves? Or simply to have the tools to be able to identify deviation from the model?
The former requires of the coach a greater level of personal technical knowledge, that might come to differentiate old- and new-school coaches (in some sports in the UK, at least) - there has been a move away from teaching an “ideal” technique towards considering outcomes first.

07/01/19
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BarbAugustin

"Outcomes" is all very nice. An outcome is "run fast", but how do you help an athlete do that? Just making them run with no work on their technique can set them up for injury and/or be an inefficient use of time (just ingraining bad habits).

I believe the coach needs to be taught what a safe and efficient technique looks like. Beyond that, the "ideal" technique is good for coaches to have in the back of their minds, remembering there is no "one" ideal technique, but there are commonalities (eg look at the riders doing a team pursuit - they're all different but they have more in common than they have differences). The coach should be assessing where their athletes are against these models, deciding if the athlete would benefit from a change in technique, and should have the tools (drills, etc) to help the athlete make that change.

Paula Radcliffe seemed to do OK, despite her bobbing head. I wouldn't coach my athletes to bob their heads to be like her, but I would look at her foot strike, cadence, arm carriage, posture, etc and see if there was something in there I could encourage my athletes to do.

07/01/19
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andrewb62

Hi Barb — you are absolutely right. I could have framed my comment re outcomes a bit better.
I was thinking more about outcomes in “invasion” sports, or “striking & fielding” games, where (so long as you play within the laws of the game) it doesn’t matter that much how the player hits the ball to the boundary, or puts the ball in the back of the net, just so long as she can do it consistently, against different opponents and under a range of playing conditions.
I have certainly seen promising young cricketers ruined by a coach who wants them to “move more like {insert name of world superstar here}”.
As you say - the coach needs to be selective in the movement solutions they choose to develop.

08/01/19
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andrewb62

In the blog at the start of this thread, I wrote “I suspect that only a few (CPD courses taken] will actually change how I coach...”

What are they?

For me, two main developmental strands have developed — _understanding_ the athletes I coach and finding ways to influence their behaviours, mindset, and (almost coincidentally) their development as athletes and human beings.

So the most valuable coach ed CPD for me has been around player psychology (understanding motivations, fears, ambitions) and “pedagogies” (methodologies to help players to develop knowledge & skills).

In the latter, I have been particularly taken with the concepts of ecological dynamics — that an athlete’s performance and behaviour is shaped by the environment experienced by that athlete— and the knowledge that the coach can support appropriate development by deliberately shaping the practice environment.

Nothing to do with drills or cones (I use both); definitely nothing technical (although inefficient or poor technique — likely to result in injury — probably needs to be modified)

31/01/19
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koneill44

I concur that in addition to the X’s and O’s of sport, coaching the mind and heart are essential. Yet, few coaches have the tools necessary to do that.
3Dimensional Coaching is the best I’ve seen to equip coaches to do that very thing. Check it out.
Www.3dinstitute.com

31/01/19
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