Singled out is Martina Navratilova, who had twenty-two advisers on board at one point, look where see got. This though a freak occasion, or pure talent, or a valuable well-organised team effort through her entourage? Glenn Hoddle and his England team have a whole host of coaches making up their team, a nutritionist, fitness instructors, doctors, the works, it seems to work for them too, though these are clearly at the higher end of the scale somewhat.
Alma Thomas, a sports psychologist by trade, says, “that her role is not to interfere but to aid and support and try not to be seen as an intruder in the coach/athlete relationship”. (adapted from Coaching Focus 35 p12) She also explains how she should fit in with the athlete’s programme, not the other way round. There have been alternatives suggestions to what we should do to progress. But the way forward seems to indicate a handful in particular. Train the coaches, educate the coaches, set standards, (so that external team coaches are unnecessary). With the range of abilities across the coaching spectrum varying, it would seem wise that a programme of coaching education is the key step forward in order to achieve this kind of set standard.
This then should provide all coaches with relevant knowledge, it will educate them, and they will get to learn of the latest developments, which may be of use to them. Also they will learn to recognise, they will learn to know if or when they need outside help, when they feel its necessary. Many believe and J.S. Clavert writes, “there should be a move in order to provide more full-time courses, leading to sports coaching qualifications across the country”.
Arsene Wenger, the current Arsenal Football Club manager, is an example of how coaches can be educated, he is knowledgeable in the field of nutrition and exercise physiology, via his knowledge and experience has many clear changes to some of the Arsenal regime. With regards to education, Claverts has identified one such institution who does just this, The Dumfermline College of Physical Education, in Scotland, they offer courses which, “prepares coaches for high-level coaching and positions of responsibility within coaching, by providing them with the necessary knowledge, skills and professional expertise”.
This is just one example, more institutions, courses, such as this will be crucial in the role of education. Many of our present coaches are either ex- or even current school teachers, or former players, athletes themselves. Many don’t have the relevant skills required to guide performers to the very top, that’s why Geoff Cooke, suggests a multi-discipline of team coaches, but with a coach education programme, this would reduce the need for such an approach somewhat. Sue Campbell puts forward that, “in the future most countries will have a national education system for coaches”, this hopefully will ensure coaches obtain a required standard of competence.
It must be noted that coaching education doesn’t stop once you’ve graduated as such, but should be a continuing on going process, where the ‘coach’ would go back for refreshers and new news. Ideas for plans for a National, British Academy of Sport, to follow suit of that of the Australians are in developments, and is a long over due welcomed move. Though in theory its sound, to suggest that coaches should or would be coaches, should attend relevant full-time courses, time is crucial to all of us, anyone who is willing to put the effort and time in, in order to be the best that they can will be looking for some kind of return, this return may well and is likely to be a career in the coaching field. How many coaches are full-time coaching professional presently?
This then is yet another stepping stone which must be addressed, the coach as a professional. With the ever increasing change from amateurism to professionalism in our former amateur sports, this emphasises the way in which these sports are trying to raise their profile and performance. Nowadays with more and more professional performers in the so-called or former amateur sports for example athletics, surely then there is a need for more professional coaches as well, to work in turn with these people.
Though Peter Treadwell (Senior Lecturer at S Glamorgan I of HE for PE), says, “there is a danger as we strive for greater professionalism, that we run the risk of brutalising and demeaning athletes”. So we must be cautious, and not try to run before we can walk. John Lyle backs up the idea of education and professionalism when he says, “we should clear the way for improved coach education, and professional development”. He feels that these are the best options to move forwards.
Another way forward as discussed is to have these partnerships between the coach and other specialised disciplines, though this is more practical at the elite end of the scale as previously mentioned, it must be managed effectively to work beneficially, (But with more highly qualified coaches through an education programme, it may not be so necessary.) The feeling is that it is not realistic to believe that the coach will be educated competently enough in all the disciplines to be able to do without external help at times, one day, once we’ve got these highly qualified well educated, professionals with the national standard of coaching, would it almost eradicate the need for these helpers, but as mentioned the individual disciplines are branching out so fast it might be considered impossible then for just one coach to keep up especially in the pursuit of excellence.
The practical way forward seems to suggest a combination of ingredients, add in some coaching education, and add with it a national standard, this can be done via courses, seminars etc. after this has settled down, add in a little bit of professionalism, (so coaches can dedicate all their time and focus on the one thing entirely), then if needed sprinkle together some partnerships with these specialised, knowledgeable experts in their separate disciplines.
The evidence from the information I’ve looked at seems to indicate that the way forwards in the development of excellence and for higher success rates and better performances in ‘games’ medal tables etc.., as I would have to agree with Geoff Cooke, is the, “team approach”, partnerships are the key steps forwards in order to achieve excellence, but better still is the combination of the lot, (professionalism, education programmes, national standards) if and only if managed competently.