Why the coach has to learn?
For most athletes, their coach is an influential element on the competitive experience. Coaches have a positive influence on today’s youth. If we ask children playing various sports, they would probably rate that coaches have the maximum positive influence on them.
Coaches can at the most help their players in improving their skills, performing to their best ability, developing a strong character, and gaining confidence. They can thus maximize the positive value of sports and enhance the intrinsic motivation to play a sport.
What makes a good or effective coach? At the youth level, an effective coach may be the person who encourages his/her athletes and provide learning opportunities to them. The role of coach is a complicated one. Surveys of coaches at the youth level find that they serve as an instructor, teacher, motivator, disciplinarian, substitute parent, social worker, friend, manager, therapist and fundraiser. Ideally, coaches should understand the developmental stage and limits of their athletes in order to tailor practices and playing time appropriately. In addition to these expectations, coaches are expected to have an in-depth knowledge of the sport they are coaching, including the rules and the skills and techniques needed to play this sport. At more advanced levels of competition, they need to understand basic kinesiology, sport psychology, nutrition and the basic first-aid techniques.
Not many sports and training certifications are available in our country. Many coaches started coaching after playing competitive sports or taken up coaching as a hobby or as a livelihood. Many do not have coaching experience, but they may have learned their coaching skills by observing other coaches. My observation is that these coaches have very little knowledge of sport safety, training, biomechanics of the sport, various skills to adopt particular sports, conditioning and child development.
Coaches, who impart effectiveness training that focuses on positive coaching, have indicated that it is more advantageous for the children who actually play a sport competitively. Children coached by trained individuals also reported lower anxiety levels. Children’s dislike of their coach is an important reason for discontinuing a sport.
A critical role for coaches is team building – i.e. making all the moving parts and variable skill levels of a group of athletes work together. Team-building activities can have positive results with elite sport. In addition, coaches have also reported that these activities have improved their own communication and motivational skills. Studies on team building show that athletes benefit from coaches, who employ team-building techniques that create a more enjoyable environment and increase the likelihood that they will continue with this sport.
Importance of coaching / training certification
It is sad that we have very few certification courses available. Former players use their experience to teach children and expect players to perform at the elite level. We can certify and educate as many coaches as possible for the development of the sport. Coaches are the most influential to get optimum results from players. Knowledge is vital in any field. Coaches must upgrade themselves with new trends, listen to and understand the scientifically explained techniques. There is a vast difference in training coaching methods followed in yester years and today. The technology and science have changed; the game has evolved with new dimensions of skill training, biomechanical analysis, injury prevention techniques, specialized conditioning for high performance and sports psychology. Documenting the progress is important for the future development in sports. Individual assessment data for the programme design and planning has played important role in the development of a player.
Let us know what the coaches learn in a certification programme? The biggest asset of certification is that a wide range of knowledge is presented scientifically to upgrade the coaches. The emphasis of a certification program should be on the LTAD program (long-term athletic development program). Physical development is the paramount of developing any player and all coaches must understand and learn various pathways of players’ physical and mental development and their responses towards these paths at each level. Physical skills must be taught, practiced and mastered in a sequence. If any step in the sequence is missed, then the development hampers and cannot be compensated. In any sports, basic athleticism is critical to develop, without which it would be impossible to learn any sports. Demands of a particular sport are often neglected although it is an important aspect. It is very important to plan a training program by considering the demands for an individual as well as the sport. Playing a sport is a science and every sport requires specific actions and movements. These must be taught in the course of movement mechanics. In sports, the level of each player is different and hence the coaches need to adjust and modify their coaching strategies as per the level of players. They need to understand the basic coaching principles, body language, communication skills and influence players to perform at the highest level. All aforementioned components are critical and must be learnt by every coach. A coach may be a very good former player, but he/she need not necessarily be a good coach. Playing and coaching are the two different things as far as player development is concerned. All the above-mentioned qualities in a coach play a very important role in creating a champion. Coaching and training certification gives you confidence while coaching, because you learn to develop different coaching methods and techniques, you can modify, improvise various skills as per the demands of a situation.
A coach may spend more time with a young athlete in a day than a parent, and parents have put a great deal of confidence in coaches. It is our job to create a safe platform, where parents feel they need not worry about whether their kids will be safe playing competitive sports. Parents feel assured when they know that a coach’s knowledge will keep kids safe, but many coaches were honest in admitting that they do not believe whether have the right kind of knowledge to prevent injuries and extensive know-how about making a champion player. Based on my experience as a strength and condition coach, I believe that level of training and knowledge of coaches is far from adequate. What can we do to restore the trust in the relationship between coaches, parents and their kids? It is vital that we do so, because a kid’s involvement in a team sport is important as they grow up. The values sports teach are important: working together, watching out for each other, accepting the decisions of others, leadership, listening to other perspectives and making split-second decisions.
I strongly believe that it is absolutely essential for coaches to obtain education about preventing injuries and to certify that they have adequate knowledge to keep kids safe. If we plan properly, the certification would not merely remain a feel-good piece of paper. It would help in building a safe platform of confidence. This certification would also confirm that genuine education on strategies to prevent knee, back, joint injuries, and repetitive motion injuries is imparted to coaches, and would also help them in enhancing the careers of players. They would learn what to do in the case of emergencies and other serious risks.
A coach is a professional, a leader, a teacher, a mentor and deserves an earned public trust. Ensuring that coaches receive education through certification is a small but natural extension of this process. It is a responsibility of a coach to remain up-to-date with the latest advancements in sports.
CSCS, CSCC (AUS)