May 29 – Elite athletes should have access to the best technical expertise available.
“Coaching is the universal language of change and learning.”
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.
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
- 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.