Classroom Education Remains the Gold Standard

Author: Jim Schmutz, ASEP Executive Director


While online education provides convenience, it still cannot replicate the type of interaction that occurs in a classroom. So while high quality online delivery of Coaching Principles and Sport First Aid provides effective and convenient content delivery, athletic administrators cite the interactive nature of classroom courses as the distinguishing factor that adds unique value. And for one sport administrator, the insistence on classroom training overcame the fact that she was located on a western Pacific island nearly 7,000 miles away.

In preparation for the 2011 Pacific Games, the Guam National Olympic Committee (GNOC) recognized that getting its coaches certified was a must before the U.S. territory’s teams headed off to New Caledonia in August. Kelly Blas, Sport Development & Compliance Officer for the Guam National Olympic Committee contacted ASEP expressing interest in becoming a certified instructor so that she could get their Olympic coaches certified. ASEP assistant director Jerry Reeder recruited Dr. Jim Krob, who with a combined 43 years of coaching experience and 23 years as an ASEP certified instructor brought a unique and valuable blend of experience perfectly suited to conduct the courses for these high-level coaches. Krob, a highly recognized track and field coach and an assistant professor at Fort Hays State University in Kansas, has taught the course for the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) and as part of the curriculum at Fort Hays State.

Krob presented Coaching Principles and Sport First Aid to more than 20 coaches and during his time there also trained four future instructors for GNOC. By establishing a small ASEP instructor network in Guam, Kelly is confident that more coaches on the island will benefit from classroom instruction. Blas considered the training to be a great success. “Jim was a fountain of knowledge and experience to pull from,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.”

The training fulfills an Olympic requirement that any coach who works with a team must be certified by a coaching organization. The long-term impact will result when these new instructors teach ASEP courses to all levels of coaches targeting Guam’s seven high schools and recreational sports programs. “I hope that our newly certified instructors will be able to keep the coaches out in the community certified,” Blas comments. “We want educated and knowledgeable coaches teaching and mentoring our young athletes as well as our national team athletes.”

Krob points out that although the individuals trained in Guam were already highly specialized and qualified in their specific sports, many of them had not yet been exposed to general coaching principles. He expressed confidence that the material presented in Coaching Principles and Sport First Aid will help them be better prepared to work with their athletes. Blas concurs, mentioning how getting GNOC’s coaches certified gives them some formal education and training which will make them better equipped in their role as volunteer national coach.

“Coaching an individual or team requires much more than just knowledge of the sport skills,” Krob adds. “The ASEP coaching courses cover coaching knowledge from the psychological, physiological, methodological, and management points of view.” Since Krob’s whirlwind trip to Guam in March, the Guam National Olympic Committee has already had four coaches take and pass the tests to become certified. Additionally, the committee hosted another coaching course in May.

ASEP playing a key role in the Keystone State

ASEP is also working with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association (PSADA) to achieve its three-year strategic plan goal of training 100 instructors across the state. PSADA is hoping this initiative will convince superintendents to embrace the benefits of educating coaches ultimately leading to district level requirements for formal coach education using Coaching Principles in the classroom. During PSADA’s March conference, 25 new instructors were trained and, according to PSADA executive director Bob Buckanavage, they are already starting to see the results of that effort. The School District of Philadelphia is working with PSADA to provide ASEP training to their coaches from the middle and high school levels. “PSADA is committed to providing the leadership for coaching education in our schools,” says Buckanavage of this part of their 2009-14 strategic plan. “We feel we have made significant progress in the first two years toward achieving this strategic goal. We will strive to provide the answer to the question ‘If coaches train kids, who trains the coaches?’”

Strategic Growth Across the Country

ASEP continues efforts to grow the instructor network and in May initiated a targeted campaign to recruit high school athletic directors to become new instructors. The encouraging response includes interest from 25 athletic directors in California, 20 more in Illinois, 14 from Alabama, 16 from Washington, and another 19 from Wisconsin. During the month of June, Jerry Reeder will host a series of five instructor training webinars. We are confident that as instructors, athletic directors will use the opportunity to connect with their coaches by conducting in-person education sessions.

In 2004 ASEP introduced the first version of our online courses to meet the growing demand for online education. In 2009 we introduced Coaching Orientation as an online introductory course option that met state certification standards, required less time, and helped first-time coaches quickly prepare for their role, with the idea that they would continue their education in the future by taking Coaching Principles and Sport First Aid. Even with these online options, classroom delivery remains the gold standard in coach education for many administrators. E-mail me or post your thoughts related to the value of classroom and online coach education.