By Lethbridge Herald on June 19, 2015.
By Travis Grindle
Coach development and recruitment should be the number one priority of sport organizations in southern Alberta.
Coaching is the most important factor in an organizationâ€™s success.
Coaches are the point-of-contact for an organizationâ€™s most important asset â€” your developing players. So it makes sense to ensure your coaches are engaged, knowledgeable and properly supported.
A study done by the U.S. Youth Soccer Association found that six of the top seven reasons young athletes quit sports are coach-influenced behaviours, ranging from lack of playing time to overemphasis on winning.
Â Today, the best coaches in each sport are paid millions of dollars to coach professional athletes.
But, shouldnâ€™t those athletes with most to gain in terms of development be instructed by the best coaches?
Shouldnâ€™t the best coaches be working with our most precious athletic resource?
Most local sport organizations operate on a volunteer or parent-coach model. These coaches, generally speaking, are not usually trained or accredited. They are simply dads or moms who know that if they donâ€™t step up, the kids may not have a team to play on.
Their value cannot be measured.
Organizations need them to lead and coach and their efforts should be appreciated on every level. But they are inexperienced. So, our most precious resource learns from our most inexperienced coaches.
Â Developing athletes are sponges, or pieces of clay. They can be molded and taught and trained. And they should be learning from the best teachers whenever possible. But instead, our best coaches are being paid handsomely to ensure LeBron James can make a layup, or Jordan Eberle can stickhandle around cones. Some of our best coaches are merely ego managers for million-dollar players. Professional players already know the fundamentals of their game; thatâ€™s why they are there. They have mastered the gameâ€™s most basic skills.
Â The Canadian Soccer Womenâ€™s National team is coached by John Herdman. Fundamentally, Herdman is at the top of his game, and he is one of the best motivators ever. So, would his time and service be better spent with the National team, where players already possess the skills and motivation necessary to succeed on the national level, or training a local crop of 12- and 13-year-olds? How many Christine Sinclairs could Herdman produce with access to hundreds of eager, young soccer players, motivating and training them with the proper fundamentals and strategy from a young age?
Â Now, for obvious reasons, John Herdman, Joel Quenneville and Greg Popovich are not walking into your local practice anytime soon. So, sport organizations are left with the task of recruiting, training and supporting their own coaches. The need to dedicate resources to coaching development is apparent. Organizations and sport administrators must reward and promote coaches who are committed and passionate about their role in athlete development.
Â Germany adopted a similar philosophy of coach and athlete development in 2000. They realized the value of having the nationâ€™s top coaches work with their young, emerging players. The German national program and professional leagues decided the development of more technically proficient homegrown players would be in everyoneâ€™s best interests and this led to the creation of academies right across the top two divisions. Each of these academies hired technical coaches and implemented a coach development plan. Fourteen years later, Germany won the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Â The German example is on a massive scale, but some of the lessons can be integrated on a more local level. We can start small by recognizing our best coaches and urging them to become accredited through our National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). Allow them access to additional professional development resources. Celebrate their successes and provide them with positive feedback. These small steps will produce more skilled athletes more often.