Professional coaching development has existed for decades. If a coach wants to learn more about the technical, skill, mental, or emotional aspects of their given sport, there are coaches clinics and seminars, as well as countless books, articles, and YouTube videos that are available for instant access. It’s a cottage industry appealing to competitive leaders trying to find an edge over opposition. However, methods to teach these skills and concepts are not as readily available. Insert the role of Coach Developer. Institutions like the International Center for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) as well as its American counterpart, the United States Center for Coaching Excellence (USCCE), have endorsed the use of the Coach Developer to lead coaches through the involved process of coach education.
In recent years and amid the backdrop of numerous controversies in the sporting world related to misuse and abuse of a coach’s authority, there is now a greater recognition of the need and importance of Coach Developers. Much like master teachers on special assignments in an educational system, coaching development is tasked with providing mentorship in an individual and small group setting, inside and outside of the classroom. Using research-based methodologies, the Coach Developer supports and emphasizes the use of best practices in guiding coaches on the How of coaching and education as opposed to What.
More and more Coach Developers are taking advantage of gatherings like the North American Coach Development Summit hosted by the USCCE this June. The growing numbers highlight the increased opportunities for Coach Developers to receive training and guided practice using effective approaches in sharing the How. Topics for discussion include servant leadership, preferred learning styles of coaches (not athletes), and using reflective practices. Micro-coaching, analogous to the fishbowl role-play technique, and field-based practice with feedback are examples of modern methods Coach Developers can utilize to enhance the delivery of content and skill to coaches.
Outside looking in, the casual sports enthusiast may view the act of coaching as simply donning a whistle and yelling instructions to your athletes as they race up and down the field, pitch, or gym floor. If a passion for a sport is paired with some knowledge regarding how the sport functions, many think a coach can get by and be effective. The call for an increased role for coaching development emphasizes the complexity that exists when training coaches to use research-based, ethical, best practices with their athletes. More specifically, the Coach Developer is tasked not only with an understanding of the technical skill, but the ability to successfully mentor coaches on how to deliver these skills to the athletes they serve. Very much an expression of a professional approach to coaching, utilizing the Coach Developer in training coaches better ensure the quality to which these leaders provide the best level of service to our athletes as well as reflects a commitment and investment in those who have immeasurable impact on their communities.