Posted in Athletes, Coaching, Sport, Uncategorized

Coaching in 2016 and beyond

May 29 – Elite athletes should have access to the best technical expertise available.  

“Coaching is the universal language of change and learning.”

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One of the missions of any sporting organisation must be to prepare its coaches to be the best. And while it is doing that ensure that the sport also has access to its best athletes. That relationship, if well organised is the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship for the specific sport to maximise its economic activity.

The history of coaching does not meet the traditional skill set where the roles of purpose, knowledge base, organisation and ethics are clearly outlined; however, over the last two decades there has been an increase in who we classify as “elite coaches” – those who are considered as being the best; transforms the best and gets the best out of any category of athlete.

Sport more than ever now plays a significant role in income generation and a well-coached   fully focused winning team provide entertainment to spectators, communities, sponsors, athletes, coaches and administrators.

Coaching has therefore moved from the largely volunteer role it had been to the more sophisticated and competitive profession where institutions and organisations go after the “best” coaches for a multiplicity of reasons.

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The National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL) and the English Premier League (EPL) are three organisations which move around coaches based on a projected number of wins within a season or a contract term. These organisations essentially work with the saying “you are as good as your last win.”

I reflect on the roles of Don Nelson and Phil Jackson two NBA coaches were both successful as players and coaches. Both have philosophies they have used to their advantage. Nelson masterminded the concept of a power forward, while Jackson perfected the triangle offense; but also his use of Zen techniques to assemble some of USA’s best basketballers while getting them to win. I look at football in the EPL and Alex Ferguson’s record speaks for itself.

Today, an elite coach is not who is simply technically strong, but instead one who designs and uses philosophies to achieve the ultimate gain of converting his/her team to win over a sustained period.

The training of coaches is available at several levels

  • Teacher-training institutions
  • Sport Colleges and Universities
  • Olympic Federations through the IOC’s programmes
    • Other sporting Federations have accredited levels of courses which are applicable for its different categories of athletes
  • Other supplementary short courses are available on several platforms

Standards have been and continue to be set and more and more sporting franchises and organisations go after the most qualified. The coaching situation has evolved.

The profession, coaching, has to first of all look at reinforcing education, deployment of those resources while regulating rules to engage the wide variety of skills on offer, but the ultimate is to get a winning formula of winning team and coach.

Coaching along age-group teams moves from getting players/athletes to enjoy their game (children) and to compete fiercely for titles and in recent years attract a substantial salary package. Sport also influences social and cultural boundaries and the value of those factors, while immeasurable, have an important place in the sporting model of any organisation.

The European Coaching Council in 2007 proposed a paper which suggested that coaching roles and qualifications be separated, but cited the need to map what is considered competencies for specific coaching roles. The coaching role is defined whether you are one of the following:

  • Apprentice coach
  • Coach
  • Senior Coach
  • Master Coach

Some regions including USA, Europe, Australia have established professional associations for coaching ensuring the profession is fiercely protected and where only members of the profession can practice. Some sporting federations have a similar model where coaches have to achieve a certain level of qualification and accreditation to coach at a particular level.

In the coaching environment these days there is a variety of qualifications, accreditation and opportunities for coaches at every level to gain the requisite training and exposure to make it to the top. These days you are either a pre-coach, volunteer coach or a professional coach. Coaching like so many other professions, have become competitive and attracts good pay packages. It is therefore important that organisations prepare its technical teams to get the best out of its athletes/players.

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Posted in Leadership, Management, Sport

ATHLETES, MONEY AND SPORT

February 22 – The United States of America has over 320 million people (census of 2014). The sport business flourishes in that country and will boast of their world series in basketball, ice hockey, baseball and the Super Bowl.

What we have seen though is, the massive support the sport business there attracts through broadcast rights. The impact of having that massive number is the reason why there is an almost 5-billion-dollar media rights for the National Football League (NFL) that is on TV for just over five months. There are 32 teams in that league.

Broadcast Rights

In the National Basketball Association (NBA) there are 30 teams. In December 2010, Forbes, the established business publication carried comments regarding the ‘watering down of the NBA’. Lebron James was quoted as saying there were too many teams and it is why the NBA has become the league of the rich and poor. Now that is just close to 600 players on the collective rosters.

The Forbes article also pointed out that while Miami, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles teams were set to make money, some teams from Atlanta, Indiana, Memphis and New Orleans could lose. What came out of that was players at the time got slightly higher than half of the revenue and to make the NBA work and satisfy the game and the league, those earnings from revenues were lowered. So rather than reducing the number of teams, the players made a sacrifice. The league is still on and fans are still enjoying the game. More players too are getting endorsements.

Now let’s look at the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the 62-year old organisation which in the last 20 years has had intermittently, due to disputes, four major interruptions in the regular season. While no games were lost in the 1995 season because of the July 1 to September 12 timeline, the league was still affected. In 1998, the 29 team franchises at the time, played only 50 games which equalled a loss of 200 days. There were interruptions again in 2011 and 2013. The point is, there can be interruptions, but the games go on.

PlayersUnion

And oh, the NBPA only requires 260 minimum players to sign up, up to 2013, they had 300. That translates to – not all players are members. What is even more interesting, one of the richest players in the league today, Lebron James, is a vice president of the players’ association. My understanding of that is, while he is “set” – he wants the best for the sport and those around him.

Just some information on the top paid players in the NBA the last three seasons – Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Lebron James, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh.

There are a bunch of players who have taken lower salaries and have a tremendous list of endorsements so their overall value is always being maximised. That is a model than can work and should work.

The point is – we here in the Caribbean have to figure a way to negotiate salaries, incentives, and emoluments whether you are retained (on a payroll) or you are a free agent. That process should not take away from the fact that in spite of how you feel about your parent-body, the game comes first. The focus should be on preparing in order to win. Endorsements will come. And in this competitive sporting arena, the Caribbean athletes are no longer competing in this region, but instead the walls of the elite athletes’ world are closing in.

freeagent

Get in the game and make sure you do what is required to stay in the game.