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Posted in: General

Are 'community sports coaches' actually sports coaches at all?

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  • So here we go,

    I have just finished a study of community sports coaches that largely focus on achieving non-sporting outcomes. I have to wonder if what coaches working on these projects are doing is actually sports coaching at all, and not just youth work with the use of sport. We know that coach education in the UK is mostly based on frameworks and models designed for athletic development (though positive youth development is creeping through), so are we even giving these individuals the tools that they need? Do we need to separate the roles entirely for the sake of both parties? Do we need separate pathways for athletic development and pro-social ‘sports coaches?’ Be nice. J

     · Jon Woodward likes this.
     
  • Morning James - thanks for your interesting post. Intersting to hear about Community Sports Coaches. I havent come across this role before (maybe i need to get out more!!). any help to us licenced coaches would be of great help as we know there aren't enough of us to go around as it is. I dont see why there couldnt be a 'pathway bridge' between the traditional coaching system and a Community sports coaching system. This will give those in the latter group to develop further if they choose to do so. Regards John

     
  • Hi John, 

    Much of the problem is the clarity of the terminology, or lack of, but you could call them sports leaders, community sports leaders, community youth workers... I would say community sports coaches are those that facilitate sporting opportunities for largely non-sporting objectives, for example, social exclusion, crime reduction and health. Many of them don’t coach for self-interest (whether they would admit that or not) and most display transformational leadership style, so largely participant (follower) focused and go beyond the traditional role of a sports coach. It’s largely about inspiring, motivating and empowering, and competitiveness is something to be managed not encouraged. You see why there might be a problem with them doing coaching pathways designed for athletic development?

     · Sarah Hicks likes this.
     
  • Interestong post James, and a question the industry is facing...

     

    Coaching is an all consuming, catch all for the work we as a sector are involved. It covers many levels and whilst I agree the a difference in terminology would be useful, would result in even greater confusion as the lack of agreement on what each term means would be a enver ending debate.

    There is a greater breadth of CPD opportunitis avaiable across the sector (though it is stll ultimately down to the coach to be active to seek these!) and coaches will often cover a wide bredth of these roles.

    My frustration comes with the perception of the work and impact of coaches. I sit on the Parents Forum at our local school, and caused a stir when a parent mentioned that someone was 'just a coach'. We wouldn't attach this term to teachers, or many other professions, so greater clarity and awareness around the many roles we cover to the wider public would be useful....but a huge job - small steps are being made, watch this space!

     
  • On 24/09/16 11:50 AM, Jon Woodward said:

    Coaching is an all consuming, catch all for the work we as a sector are involved.

    I could't agree with that, and I would say that sports coaching, as a process or occupation, must be largely concerned with athletic development or sport-related outcomes. If you read the work of researchers such as John Lyle, the organic term sports coach a) involves a lot more than simply turning up and delivering sport but b) does not generally cross over in to the realms of community development. 

    On 24/09/16 11:50 AM, Jon Woodward said:

    would result in even greater confusion as the lack of agreement on what each term means would be a enver ending debate

    I'd have to also disagree on this point. Having sharpness in terms would be the first step forward in my opinion. For example, you talk about sports coaching as one sector, I would argue that what a community sports coach sits more in the youth work/community development sector than it does a tradtional sports coach or 'trainer.' A community sports coach merely uses sport as a tool/hook to enagage largely young people. Most 'sports coaches' shrung their shoulders or indentify holistic development of their participants as a burden or chore that has been handed down to them by training providers (that is of course unless they recognise that by doing so it could improve their participant's athletic performance). I can say that based on lots of emperical studies of sports coaches that I have done over the years , but I am sure there are people that might be offended or argue that with me. 

    Leadership roles, broadly speaking, are certainly becoming more about satisfying the needs of the 'follower,' however if sports coaches in the UK ever want to be viewed as professional, which most are not, see your example of the parents meeting, then there needs to be a complete seperation in terms and coach education in my view. Further, if community sports coaches are ever going to be able to provide an 'optimal' learning setting for their participants, I think they need their own coach education pathways, and that will never happen unless more research is done to create frameworks that are appropriate to what they do, which of course, means what they do has to be clearly defined first. Empirical studies of community sports coaches are very hard to find, but having done a systematic review of the ones that are out there, it's clear that they are being given square pegs for round holes. In terms of it being their job to go out there and find these courses to give them the skills, if you strip away sport for a second, these are adults having sustained contact with children in a developmental setting, and considering it is actually the law to provide children with developmental opportunities and 'good quality' opportunities at that, I think it's the job of the government funded organisations such as sports coach UK and others to create the appropriate training for those practitioners. (esp is they are expecting people to occupy these roles largely for free.)

     · Alan Jones likes this.
     
  • Hi both, really interesting discussion which I have enjoyed reading.

    I would just like to make a very simple point about the terminology 'community sports coach' that is being used. Professional football clubs operate Community Trusts which feature community coaches who deliver grassroots programmes in their locality including primary schools. These coaches work in a paid capacity and certainly fulfil the role of developing young children with sport-related, athletic and holistic development in mind.

     
  • On 25/09/16 9:58 AM, VINCENT HALSALL said:

    Hi both, really interesting discussion which I have enjoyed reading.

    I would just like to make a very simple point about the terminology 'community sports coach' that is being used. Professional football clubs operate Community Trusts which feature community coaches who deliver grassroots programmes in their locality including primary schools. These coaches work in a paid capacity and certainly fulfil the role of developing young children with sport-related, athletic and holistic development in mind.

    Several of those points you made there are interesting and thanks for jumping in. I guess it depends firstly what the purpose of the coaching is. If these coaches or leaders are just heading into a primary school once a week with a bag of balls and cones, then unless they are training their participants towards a sports-related outcome, such as competition, it falls short of what is considered to be sports coaching as a process. If you look at most sports coaching models, it usually consist of a lot more than turn up, deliver activities and pack up. If these coaches are starting up teams in the community, developing them through leagues and competition then that would fall into sports coaching, I guess even if their core objective was non-sport related, i.e community development. I've seen lots of football players and coaches on these forms of community schemes, they very much look and act as a sports coach, but I wouldn't consider going into schools with a bag of balls and cones for a couple hours a week without a some element of development towards competition to be sports coaching.

    Another interesting part is this idea of payment, I've never really considered how payment can factor in. If you are being paid to develop communities, how do they measure that persons performance, is it measured at all? One point you mentioned was that they bare athletic, holistic and sport-related in mind... but in what order do you think?

     
  • Hi,

    As some one that is a 'community sport coach' and a tennis coach.

    I definitely say it's not just youth work with the use of sport. We definitely don't do your traditional training that you might do in a club or at training session but we are coaching other things like the basics or personal development things.

    I have worked with children that are 8/9 that haven't been able to catch a ball, kick a ball or can't work as a team.

    I find that in the communities I work with the children might not have the money, facilities in there area to be able to see a coach. So coming to 1 of my session means they get to do sport for either a reduced price or even free. Fair enough we might not find the next david beckham but if we think someone has protential we have pathways to help and support them to go into a club.

    There is also course and qualification out there for coaches that are more for the community element looking at games that bring in skills but in fun games rather than in a traditional drill format.

    I think we are all coaches we just adapt are style to fit our setting.

     

     
  • On 26/09/16 12:59 PM, Melissa Marshall said:

    Hi,

    As some one that is a 'community sport coach' and a tennis coach.

    I definitely say it's not just youth work with the use of sport. We definitely don't do your traditional training that you might do in a club or at training session but we are coaching other things like the basics or personal development things.

    I have worked with children that are 8/9 that haven't been able to catch a ball, kick a ball or can't work as a team.

    I find that in the communities I work with the children might not have the money, facilities in there area to be able to see a coach. So coming to 1 of my session means they get to do sport for either a reduced price or even free. Fair enough we might not find the next david beckham but if we think someone has protential we have pathways to help and support them to go into a club.

    There is also course and qualification out there for coaches that are more for the community element looking at games that bring in skills but in fun games rather than in a traditional drill format.

    I think we are all coaches we just adapt are style to fit our setting.

     

    So I pick up a ball right now and I walk out in to the street, call over a group of kids, and if I am not arrested show them how to do kick ups properly. Am I now a sports coach? I've taken them off the streets, prevented them from getting into any trouble, developed a skill and used sport, am I now a sports coach? You see you have clear intention to improve performance of your participants there, but no specific preperation for competition. You may be what John Lyle (2002) calls a participation sports coach, but he laters goes on to say that a more appropriate term for what you do is actually 'sports teaching.' You focus largely on short term performance improvements and certainly sit on the participant/performance spectrum somewhere (Lyle, 2002), However, if you look back through history, and what sports coaches (trainers) actually did, I think what you do in those circumstances is just deliver structured, organised sports session that results in some personal and athletic ability. I was speaking to a ex-national swimming coach the other day and he said... well how do you get kids to do what they're told without shouting at them.. If i went in to a community project and started shouting the odds in their 'house' i'd end up with half a group the week after. My point is these are chalk and cheese processes in my view, and community sports coaching has its unique set of challanges that generally speaking do not fall in to the sports coaching process. As a sports coach you are there to basically develop their athletic ability for the purpose of preperation for a competition of some sort. I know several kids coaches at the Etihad and they just don't relate to community sports coaching at all, it's really something that needs to be conceptualised correctly and its just my opinion but I think sportscoachUK should create a UKLC for sports leaders and stop tinkering around with level 1.. *** coaches and all that dribble. You either want to sports coach or you want to be a sports leader, and I know some features overlap and some people paint themselves as a sports coach, but I just don't think sports coaching as a profession can move forward without trimming 'community sports coaching' away. It's nothing personal, there is nothing less in teaching sports for largely related outcomes, I just think if most people were honest.. sports coaches and sports leaders, it's not the same.

     
  • This has been an issue for about xxx years - sorry old git here! I think i put it in simple terms. Firstly what are you qualified for and secondly what environment are you coaching in.

    Furthermore it is worth defining coaching as; if you observe analyse and then make an intervention to improve. that is coaching. So if your session is about player or athlete improvement then it is coaching.

    if however you have other objectives you are using your coaching skills to positively engage the group you are engaged with.

    Let me give you a comparison. I am a qualified teacher which allows me to teach anything in school, although I qualified in PE I could still teach A level Science. However, if I did ever do that then I would do my preparatory work to ensure I was delivering what that group needed in the approach that would best suit them. Therefore, the coach/leader/youth worker must use the skills they have been trained in to best engage the group. The challenge is have they, the coaches, been suitably trained and that is where the answer is clearly no. However, the base must be the soft skills of coaching and teaching.

    So I would advocate building a coach qualification which has a range of soft skills and competences including engaging the group you are in front of and then adding sports specific technical skills. This means breaking up the blended coach education of what to and how to skills. Now that IS a debate.

     · Toby Bishop likes this.
     
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