Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. I’m John Grace and I will be speaking on the importance of coaching education.
Why do coaches need to be educated? Why can’t they just figure things out trial and error? Well, trial and error is part of the coaching process, but with formalized coaching education systems comes a minimizing effect on those errors.Coaching education programs provides reasoning. Reasoning on how to coach your athletes, train your athletes, manage your athletes, etc. Coaches may have some differing strategies, but coaching education programs help to centralize ideas and convey them in a manner that is understandable and practical. Coaching courses, such as USA Track and Field, NSCA, and USA Weightlifting, provide consistent messages. These types of organizations work hard to provide a consistent message to their coaches through seminars, clinics, and certification programs throughout the year. Without coaching education programs, coaches would be lost and wouldn’t know how to begin coaching without making a number of early mistakes. Coaching education programs don’t make you a mistake free coach, but they do provide information on how to limit your mistakes as a coach.Every coach has made a mistake in their careers, just think of how many of those could have been mitigated with proper coaching education programs.
Eight years ago, The National Association for Sport and Physical Education, the USOC, and the National Federation of State High School Associations met to revise and restructure the standards of coaching. These standards are what are known as the eight domains of coaching. (Hammermeister, 2010)
Whether you coach soccer,…
basketball, or any other sport, each of these eight domains should be involved in some capacity.
Before we look at each individually, let’s take a look at what makes up the NASPE’s standards of coaching. Philosophy and ethics, safety and injury prevention, physical conditioning, growth and development, teaching and communication, sport skills and tactics, organization and administration, and evaluation.National Association for Sport & Physical Education. (2006)
Let’s take a look at the first standard, philosophy and ethics.
What does a coach stand for?Coaches typically get into the career because they love to coach. They love to see their athlete’s succeed. Coaches should never lose sight of this no matter how far up the food-chain they get. Coach K is a prime example of this. He has turned down multiple offers to coach in the NBA to continue to coach in the collegiate ranks. Year after year, the Duke basketball team is ranked among the best basketball teams in the nation. He has a clear centralized team and coaching philosophy and he understands how to connect with and motivate his players on an individual level.
A proper coaching philosophy should include a solid foundation of ethics. Hammermeister (2010), as cited in Cruise-Malloy, Ross & Zakus (2003), states that “ethics is the discipline that provides us with the tools to determine whether or not we should act a certain way and the extent to which a past action should have been done.” (p. 15)A few ethical issues in sport according to Hammermeister (2010) are performance enhancing drugs, diversity among athletes and coaching staff, and athlete’s rights. Character and honesty, most of the time, go hand in hand. As a coach, you must display strong character and be honest with your athletes and coaching staff on a daily basis. This will help maintain a level of respect for your coaching abilities as well as build trust between the coach and athlete.
Secondly, we have safety and injury prevention.
Anything wrong with this picture?How about everything…Ateam and it’s facilities must have safe equipment in proper working condition. If the equipment does become damaged, it should be fixed in an appropriate time frame or it should excluded from the usable equipment. Failing to do so can put coaches and teams at risk for injury and liability issues.A team or weight room facility needs to have a clearly defined set of rules. There should also be consequences to breaking those rules. Adhering to rules will help reduce likelihood of injury while training.Always consider the athlete’s age and ability. Do they need constant supervision or do they have the knowledge to train appropriately at all times on their own?The layout and maintenance of facility are extremely important. The proper flow of individuals and teams walking in and out of facilities is important. Maintenance of said equipment will increase the longevity of equipment while keeping your athletes safe.
When training in extreme heat, coaches need to consider a few variables. The coach should focus on scheduling sessions away from peak heat hours. For example, if the day is it’s hottest at 2:00pm, don’t plan an outdoor session for that time. Coaches can either work on getting the session moved indoors or changing the time to earlier or later in the day when it’s cooler. When training in heat, athletes should maintain adequate hydration. Failing to do so can put an athlete at risk for dehydration.
Likewise, training in extreme cold temperatures are just as threatening. Again, schedule around the relatively warmest times or move the session into a heated facility.If you must train outdoors, coaches should instruct their athletes to wear proper clothing. Wearing layers is of benefit to an athlete. An athlete can start their warm-up with many layers and add or subtract as they see fit through the session. This can mitigate any extreme body temperatures.
Let’s move on to the third standard, and my favorite standard, physical conditioning.
Coach John Wooden once said “failing to plan is planning to fail.” While I don’t believe he was referring to periodization here, we can apply the same concept to training athletes. If you walk in to the weight room or on the practice field without a game plan ready, it could arguably be considered a wasted session. Ideally, you would like to have the previous sessions complement the future sessions. The only way to make that happen effectively is to plan ahead. Periodization is, in essence, planning. Planning the correct exercises or drills with the appropriate volumes and intensities at the correct time of year. If done correctly and appropriately, athlete’s can experience consistent growth in a given skill, technique, or athletic quality, such as speed, power, and strength.
Look at this donkey here. How does this donkey, weak in appearance, have the ability to move this much weight?This can provide an example of progressive overload. If this was the first time the donkey carried anything, it probably wouldn’t be able to move tomorrow, or it just wouldn't be able to move the load on the cart. This capacity has to be developed over a timeline (most likely months and years). Likewise, taking an untrained athlete and expecting them to max out in the weight room on one of their very first sessions is very inappropriate. This should be a gradual process. Athletes will eventually develop the qualities to move the big weights with correct technique.Coaches can choose to overload their athletes a lot or a little. Just know this - with high stress activities (heavy weights, sprints, and hard practices) comes a dip. That dip is fatigue. Allow them adequate time for rest, the athlete will rise out of the dip a stronger athlete. If you continuously hammer high stress activities day after day, guess what happens. You hammer them further and further into the hole of fatigue.On the same token, if you don’t provide any stress or not enough stress, the body will not adapt to new levels of strength and could potentially regress.
A very important aspect not be overlooked before training or practice is the warm up. Typically you’ll see athletes warm up like microwavable dinners. They may be hot on the outside, but could still be frozen on the inside.Ideally, if you have the time, you’d like to warm them up like a meal in the oven – slow and gradual.Sweating can be, but is not always an indication of being warmed up, so it is important to understand that sweating doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready.
Dr. Mike Young, an expert in the field, states “the goal of an effective dynamic warm-up is to prepare the athlete or trainee for the training session or competitive event.”If almost every sport is ballistic and dynamic in nature, why do coaches revert back to a lap around the field and some static stretching?
Let’s take a look at what constitutes an appropriate dynamic warm-up.While this just scratches the surface, here are a few general guidelines for warm-ups:A warm-up should be a gradual process, not rushed. An appropriate warm-up should be dynamic in nature. As stated earlier, most sports require an athlete to move dynamically. Why not warm up that way?The warm-up should move from general activities to specific activities. General activities could include jogging, various skips, and dynamic stretching. Specific activities are activities that closely resemble the movement that an athlete may see during training or competition. An example of specific activities are sprint drills before a speed session or a bar warm up with weightlifters.Pairing with the last point, warm-ups should be constructed to work from lower intensities to high intensities. Think about getting the athlete revved up for the task at hand.Warm-up time is also an excellent time to question and watch your athletes. Are they sore? Are they tired? How are they moving though the warm-up? Crisp and clean or sluggish and off balance? This doesn’t take any fancy monitoring equipment, but it can give coaches some guidance on how to approach training for certain athletes.
Let’s take a look at a little of the research.In this study “Effect of Various Warm-Up Protocols on Jump Performance in College Football Players” the authors study the effect of many different warm-up combinations, including dynamic and static stretching. The authors (2012) found that performing a general warm-up or a general warm-up followed by dynamic stretching would elicit greater performance results in a counter movement jump.Pagaduan, J.C., Pojskic, H., Uzicanin, E. & Babajic F. (2012) Effect of various warm-up protocols on jump performance in college football players.Journal of Human Kinetics. 35: 127–132.
In another study that reviewed static and dynamic warm-ups in relation to lower limb muscle power, the authors (2009) found that a dynamic warm-up significantly increases vertical jump height. Considering most sports rely on lower body power, dynamic stretching should be considered and implemented into the athlete’s training regimen. Shelton, J. Praveen Kumar, G.V. (2009) Comparison between static and dynamic warm-up exercise regimes on lower limb muscle power. Health. 1(2): 117-120
Specificity is an important concept to keep in mindwhen planningtraining. Why have the athlete work on something that has little or no transfer to their sport?The goal of training, whether on field or in the weight room, is to get better at the sport. Perform movements and exercises that match the metabolic demands of the sport. You wouldn't want a 100 meter sprinter running laps around the track to train. No, you would want them sprinting accelerations, shorter distances, plyometrics, and high power and explosive movements.This concept should not be confused with simulation. Simulation can be considered the act of performing movements or part of the movements found within the athlete’s sport. An example could be throwing a weighted baseball. While specificity and simulation do crossover at times; a weightlifter performing a Clean & Jerk or a 100 meter sprinter sprinting, coaches should recognize that specific exercises don’t need to mimic the sport, just the demands of the sport.
Some coaches may find themselves dealing with an athlete’s nutrition at times during the year. Wrestling coaches, and any coach’s sport that has weight classes, especially need to have a background in nutrition to make adequate adjustments in their athlete’s eating habits to maintain their desired weight classes. Coaches can adjust nutrition through three basic macronutrients: carbs, fats, and proteins. Coaches should be aware of their athlete’s body composition throughout the season. A poor body composition, whether too high or too low, can potentially lead to decreased performance.
Drugs and supplements have become a major part of sports. The most prevalent performance enhancing governing bodies are the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the NCAA. These organizations can test high performance athletes in the United States to make sure they fall within the acceptable guidelines of competition. Three common performance enhancers are steroids, human growth hormone, and erythropoietin, commonly known as EPO. Stimulant drugs, such as caffeine, also have to fall within standards of participation. Granted caffeine will typically only show up in large quantities, stimulants have the ability to enhance athletic and mental performance.
There are many pitfalls to taking steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. Mazzeo & Ascione (2013) state the side effects, along with others, are organ damage, mental illness, and a decrease of cardiovascular function. Coaches should recognize that the risk too far exceeds any reward or benefit from taking anabolic steroids. Mazzeo, F. &Ascione, A. (2013). Anabolic androgenic steroids and doping in sport. Sports Medicine Journal. 9(1): 2009-2020.
Domain 4 – Growth and development
From a young age athletes are very impressionable and this is when they can acquire the most knowledge or in a sense program their bodies to move efficiently. Technique and skill, such as Olympic-style lifts and sprinting, are acquired over a period of time. Coaches must have the ability to teach skills correctly. Once a skill is learned, whether correctly or incorrectly, it is possible, but very hard to get an athlete to change technique. Educated coaches know how to teach complex skills in the most efficient manner possible.Progressing a youth athlete from the ground up can be very rewarding, but it is important to instil a sense of confidence and worth in a young athlete. This will help continue their success as an athlete over time and ensure they stay interested and find enjoyment in athletics.
As athletes age and mature, coaches should provide leadership opportunities and additional responsibilities. Appointing captains is the most common form of leadership among teams. The captain is often one of the better players on the team, but doesn’t always have to be. Captains should be considered mentors to the younger players and to their peers. Who displays the right character and work ethic? Captains should posses the right qualities to lead by example not only with their athletic ability, but their non-athletic qualities as well. This point intertwines with domain two, philosophy and ethics. Coaches must have a centralized philosophy so older athletes can instill the same philosophies to the younger athletes.
The next domain is teaching and communication.
Coaching, in my mind, is teaching. Coaches must understand how athletes learn. Athletes can learn by watching, by doing, or by listening. There is not a one-size-fits-all teaching model. Coaches must adapt their plan to the current crop of athletes.Coaches must also know how to connect with athletes. Don’t use over complicated terms and phrases.Most athletes don’t need to nor want to know the science or biomechanics behind athletic movements. They are typically concerned with the most efficient way possible. But, coaches may sometimes run into an athlete that has an interest in this aspect of sport. At this time coaches should have an adequate answer to the question “why?”.
Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan will go down as one of the best coach/athlete duos of all time. He knew how to communicate with the superstar in MJ. Phil Jackson knew when to speak up and when to let MJ play. Coaches should learn this trait. Know when to speak. When you do speak, be direct. and use as few words as possible to convey a thought or message.
Skills and tactics
Coaching education allows coaches to learn new skills and refine the skills and tactics they already have in their tool boxes. More knowledge is never detrimental, therefore gaining as much knowledge as one can is an important part in growth. Coaches may have to demonstrate exercises or skills in practice. Coaches should have the capabilities of performing the demo appropriately. Some athletes feel more comfortable with a coach that has “been there before” some don’t care. I feel that as long as you can effectively teach athletic skills with high technical ability, the athlete will progress.
Organization and administration
Management of staff and players during the entire year is very important and lays the ground floor for success. Coaches must have a staff that believes in their centralized philosophy and approach to coaching. Having the ability to trust assistants and additional staff is very important. Successful coaches are rarely successful on their own. Having the education to know how to effectively choose the appropriate assistant coaches and staff will set the team up for success. Managing athletes is an entirely different animal. Coaches must know when to discipline and when to pull back from disciplining. Making sure the athletes are performing the appropriate tasks at the right time, such as off-season training, will help ensure the success of the team in-season.
Coaches must have an understanding of finances. At some point in a coach’s career, they may find themselves budgeting for new uniforms, equipment, or staff. Some high school and collegiate programs have small budgets for certain sports and one must know how to make a dollar stretch. Fund-raisers can be a good way for small team purchases. It can also build team camaraderie by having the athletes work to earn more equipment or new uniforms for their team.
Finally, we’ll take a look at the evaluation process. This process is not always about evaluating the athlete, but could also be referring to evaluating the coaching staff.
There are two ways to assess an athlete: quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitative assessments focus on the objective scores. How long did it take the athlete to run the forty yard dash? What was their vertical jump height? As long as the appropriate equipment is used and it administered properly, the numbers don’t lie.Qualitative assessments, on the other hand, focus on the quality of movement or the subjective scores. How well did the athlete move. Did they have optimal technique? Will their skill-sets compliment the team? Different coaches could potentially be looking for different athletic qualities. It is the coaches choice to determine which tests are appropriate for their team.
Pg 200According to Hammermeister (2010), the benefits of performance testing are:Predicting future performancesIndication of weaknessesMeasure improvementEvaluate the training plan Place an athlete in the appropriate training groupAnd to motivate.
To get the most out of athletes, coaches must know how to motivate them. There needs to be a culture of excellence. Every team member striving to beat one another and continuously giving one hundred percent effort. One way to enhance motivation is to create a team or facility record board. Record boards are great motivators. Most athletes are extremely competitive and most would love to see their name on the record board. It solidifies that they have started to accomplish certain goals they have set out to. If could be weight room records like a power clean or squat. It could also be sport oriented like stickers on a football helmet.This can help build team camaraderie and create a culture built around hard work and dedication.
Scouting is an aspect of coaching that is typically overlooked.
Recruiting and scouting can be one tool to make a team more successful. Having the ability to recruit the all-star athletes year after year can have a positive impact on the longevity of a coach’s career and the program.Watching and videoing the opposition may give coaches and teams an edge or upper-hand. Coaches can determine what plays to run, how to approach the defensive game, also what players to start the game or come off of the bench. Reports can offer statistical analysis on games. While I was in Vancouver with the Whitecaps FC, we used Prozone3, a video recording device that tracked players distances, high intensity runs, changes of direction, etc. This was helpful to determine how we played statistically against the opposition and if our intensity in the second half matched the first. Along with this, we used many other monitoring devises to gain as much information as we could about the opposition as well as our own team.
Great coaches understand why they are great. They ask for feedback and look for ways to improve.Good coaches also know their strengths and weaknesses. Coaching education is important because once you understand the fundamentals of a given sport your strengths greatly improve. It is also important to coach within your capabilities. Don’t be a coach that oversteps their boundaries and tries to do too many things and have their hand in every aspect of the team. It’s not necessary to micromanage. That’s what coaches hire assistants for.
In closing, coaching is much more than meets the eye. It is a process. Coaching education assists in speeding up that process to becoming a great coach.Thanks for listening.
National Association for Sport & Physical Education. (2006)
Philosophy & Ethics
Safety & Injury Prevention
Growth & Development
Teaching & Communication
Sport Skills & Tactics
Organization & Administration
Benefits of Performance Testing
• Predict future performance
• Indicate weaknesses
• Measure improvement
• Evaluate training plan
• Place athlete in appropriate training group
• Culture of excellence
• Performance boards
• Team camaraderie
Hammermeister, J. (2010) Cornerstones of coaching: The building blocks of success for sport coaches and teams. Traverse City,
MI: Cooper Publishing Group, LLC
Mazzeo, F. & Ascione, A. (2013). Anabolic androgenic steroids and doping in sport. Sports Medicine Journal. 9(1): 2009-2020.
National Association for Sport & Physical Education. (2006). Quality coaches quality sports: National standards for sport
coaches (2 ed.). Reston, VA: Author
Pagaduan, J.C., Pojskic, H., Uzicanin, E. & Babajic F. (2012) Effect of various warm-up protocols on jump performance in college
football players. Journal of Human Kinetics. 35: 127–132.
Shelton, J. Praveen Kumar, G.V. (2009) Comparison between static and dynamic warm-up exercise regimes on lower limb
muscle power. Health. 1(2): 117-120.
Young, M. (2009, February 17 ). Dynamic warmups improving performance. Elitetrack.com. Retrieved January, 31