Enhancing Our Product Through the Years

Author: Jim Schmutz, ASEP Executive Director


ASEP Insider typically highlights issues and challenges in coaching education or encourages certain measures to address and solve those problems. Like you, ASEP devotes considerable thought and effort to improve coaching and circumstances in which coaches coach. But we’re simply building on the strong foundation established by others.

More than 30 years ago, a foursome of scholars, researchers, and practitioners in the emerging fields of sport and exercise science and sport medicine set their sights on educating coaches. Sport psychologist Rainer Martens, sport physiologist Brian Sharkey, sport pedagogy specialist and coach Bob Christina, and sports medicine specialist John Harvey joined ranks in an attempt to provide youth sport coaches a very readable and useful book to fulfill their role more effectively. The result, Coaching Young Athletes, was published 1981 and served as the text for the first American Coaching Effectiveness Program (ACEP) course introduced that same year.

Up to that time, formal coaching education in the United States was primarily obtained through college courses offered in some physical education departments. The rest of the learning was left to the school of hard knocks. School-based coaches were generally hired on the basis of having played the sport or having assisted another coach in the sport. Some had physical education degrees.

Youth coaches were almost always parents of kids on the team who often didn’t know much, if anything about coaching, but were willing to volunteer their time to the task. Unfortunately, egos and competitive instincts too frequently guided their actions, not the desire to promote participation, learning, and teamwork while ensuring the safety their squad members.

Coaching Young Athletes and its accompanying course curriculum attempted to change all that. With ACEP’s motto "Athletes first, winning second" permeating every page, the book required coaches to reflect on and reorient (if necessary) their philosophy to make the sport experiences of children much more enjoyable and beneficial. It also taught them basic coaching principles like how to teach sport skills, ways to motivate positively, proper physical training, and proactive safety measures and basic first aid for common injuries and conditions.

Over the next nine years, Coaching Young Athletes made a major impact in youth sport. By the end of 1989 more than 150,000 copies were in print and the book had received wide acclaim from educators, sports administrators, and coaches. ACEP gained popularity as well, and was discovering through feedback that the growing sophistication and specialization in sport demanded changes in its curriculum resources and delivery methods. These events, and a new partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), prompted ACEP to publish a more detailed and advanced book in 1990. Authored by ACEP’s founder Rainer Martens, Successful Coaching served as its Level I course text, while a special NF version was created for the high school level.

By the mid ‘90s, as Successful Coaching became widely viewed as the best general coaching text ever published, interest in the book and course accompanying it grew strong in the high school ranks and the book was updated in 1997 to address topics of growing interest at that level. Sales surged as coaches and administrators appreciated the wealth of knowledge and practical applications contained in this bigger and better book. ACEP grew too, and in 1994 changed its name to the American Sport Education Program (ASEP).

Feedback from athletic administrators, program coordinators, and coaches themselves over the years, and increased sales opportunities through retail outlets encouraged major enhancements of the book that were finally completed in 2004. The page count expanded to a whopping 520 pages and the book’s interior was visually upgraded with appealing full color artwork and photography presented throughout. America’s best-selling coaching guide became an even more complete source of information. The book bears no resemblance to the far more basic and much shorter Coaching Young Athletes that preceded it by more than two decades. In fact, over 200 colleges and universities across the country use Successful Coaching as part of curriculum dedicated to coach education and athletic leadership.

Now, here we are, six years later and initiating the development of yet another edition of Successful Coaching, to continue our ongoing commitment to upgrading the book and keeping it current. It’s a daunting task, given the high regard for the third edition and the more than 500,000 copies sold in its previous versions. Be assured that all the best features will be retained. The content will still focus on the key principles of coaching that are at ASEP’s core. Also, the visual presentation will be equally if not more attractive than its eye-pleasing predecessor. But changes will be noteworthy, all designed to make reading, retaining, and referencing back to material even easier.

This revision has been given much thought and attention. We’ve compiled and taken into consideration extensive input and feedback from coaches, coaching educators, sport administrators, and sport organizations. Our staff has examined each page thoroughly. And the author has set aside several months to ensure the work’s timely completion.

Be alert for announcements in the coming year, but as of now we expect the fourth edition of the book to be in print by spring 2012. We’re confident that you’ll find the wait well worth it.