Educating Coaches and a bit of Envy

I have a background as a coach developer for an Olympic sport and stay in touch with that world through the podcast (check it out!) and also through a regular meeting with coach developers here in Colorado Springs.

The US does not have a formal, or even a well-organized, coach development program.  Unlike so many other countries government stays out of sport.  While government entities at the local level offer recreation leagues, the federal government stays out of the governance of sport.  I am actually a fan of no government involvement.  Sport governance is already political enough without getting Washington, D.C. folks heavily involved.

However, a downside is that there is, at best, a patchwork of organizations that have the goal of making coaching better in the US.  If you want more of my thoughts, check out my first podcast (and please forgive the VERY amateur quality) and also the the podcast with Kristen Dieffenbach (slightly less amateur quality).

While I prefer a system that does not stifle innovation in coaching, I  am a bit envious of Canada, Great Britain and several other countries that do have a national framework of coach development/education.  At least there are standards to be met and educational opportunities through the sport organization.  I had long hoped that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC, a former employer although not in a coaching education capacity) would step in, but alas it seems to have other priorities although it does have a coaching education department with I believe 3 employees (I have not seen an organizational chart for the USOC since roughly 1999).

So I was thrilled and kind of saddened to see these two documents from Sport England.  I like that they not only address coaching education and development, but also adult activity.  Like most developed nations, Great Britain has seen a rise in obesity and more activity is one tool to combat obesity along with many other chronic diseases.  Another aspect is to promote diversity in the coaching ranks.  I sometimes roll my eyes at diversity because it often focuses on skin color, sex or gender.  However, in this case I think it is worth noting that coaches from ethnic groups other than Caucasians and women comprise a much smaller percentages than the athletes they are coaching.  Basically you have a lot of white men coaching females or minorities.  Girls have been playing sports long enough to have created a pool of coaches.  So what is the disconnect?  

I am reminded of a statement I heard years ago referencing that there are now more women in college than men and that the graduation rate for women was higher.  The speaker (I cannot recall who it was) suggested that college age women are just more serious than college aged men.  Based on my experience as a college age man and as a college administrator for several years, I can agree with that.  So maybe more girls than guys see sports as something to do when you are young, or as a social outlet or maybe to be fit and that coaching a sport would be a frivolous activity.  I could also use the numbers often bandied about that women do more household chores than men so when are they going to fit in coaching a bunch of kids in tee ball.  Another hypothesis proposed was that women who want to coach lack confidence  that they know how to coach.  Let's face it, we all have seen men who have no clue how to coach--and I am not talking about whoever the Cleveland Browns coach is this week. (Cheap shot I know).  Not knowing what one is doing has never stopped a guy from trying!

So, I am posting these documents and would love your take on my little rant as well as the documents from Sport England.  Please leave a comment and share with others.


 Coaching in an Active Nation

Toward an Active Nation