Coach education — minimum set?

I recently updated my CV (no, I am not applying for new jobs, just a periodic review and trim) and it is now overflowing with CPD courses — mostly interesting, and all relevant in some way to the work I am doing, but I suspect that only a few will actually change how I coach (for the better, hopefully).

Which set me wondering about the “minimum set” of qualifications required to call yourself a coach?

What are the most important lessons from coach education — formal qualification, ongoing CPD, informal learning — lessons that have fundamentally shaped the way I coach?

My starters for any coach education programme would have to include:

  • appropriate first aid training, probably including concussion awareness;
  • appropriate Safeguarding training for every coach working with children and/or vulnerable adults

But what else?

For me, two main developmental strands have developed — understanding the athletes I coach and finding ways of influencing their behaviours, mindset, and (almost coincidentally) their development as athletes and human beings.

So the most valuable coach ed CPD for me has been around player psychology (understanding motivations, fears, ambitions) and “pedagogies” (methodologies to help players to develop knowledge & skills).

In the latter, I have been particularly taken with the concepts of ecological dynamics — that an athlete’s performance and behaviour is shaped by the environment experienced by that athlete — and the knowledge that the coach can support appropriate development by deliberately shaping the practice environment.

Nothing to do with drills or cones (I use both). Definitely nothing overtly technical (although inefficient or poor technique — likely to result in injury — probably needs to be modified).


This post was inspired by:

  • the Coaching Plan for England
    • in particular, the proposed new professional standards being developed by CIMPSA and UK Coaching, including a new “coaching children” qualification to apply across sports;
  • the release of the first MOOC from the iCoachKids project
  • an ongoing conversation with a group of coaching colleagues about how best to coach a group of beginners, and the skills needed to do this (and how much we still don’t know, even though we are all “qualified” coaches!).
  • this report from the Aspen Institute on sport participation & physical activity rates in the US — see the section on training for youth coaches

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