Put Your Coaches in Position to Succeed

Author: Jerry Reeder, Assistant Director, Human Kinetics Coach Education

12/08/2017

In an article I wrote for this e-newsletter back in August, I identified retaining coaches as one of the biggest challenges for today’s athletic directors. It doesn’t take long for a young coach who has taken a few lumps to conclude that there are better ways to spend their free time or to supplement their income.

As an instructor, you play a vital role in training, certifying, and retaining your coaches. The information and knowledge you share in your clinics—consisting of a substantive curriculum steeped in experiential-based learning—is designed to engage, equip, and encourage coaches not only to step on the field for the first time, but also to stick with it season after season. Equally if not more important is the role you play as mentor to your coaches. To be a sounding board, experience-sharer, and advice-giver to coaches who face myriad challenges is invaluable in quelling insecurities and boosting confidence—especially during the early years of a young coach’s career.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Where do I find the time for this?” Faculty-coaches are especially pressed for time given a full teaching schedule, after-hours coaching duties (and before hours, in many cases), and home-life responsibilities. So how can you implement a coaching education and mentorship initiative for your faculty-coaches?

An increasingly popular and successful model is to offer the coaching education courses as part of in-service days. Most if not all districts require faculty to obtain continuing education to maintain certification, and many districts accept coaching courses for CEUs for their faculty-coaches. To use Pennsylvania as an example, Act 48 (passed in 1999) requires persons holding Pennsylvania professional educator certification to complete continuing education requirements every five years in order to maintain their certificates. Coaching Principles and Sport First Aid classroom courses are approved for ACT 48 credit. I encourage you as an instructor to petition to have the courses approved for credit in your district, if they aren’t already.

The in-service day model lends itself to blended course delivery, combining four to six hours of in-class time with the remainder being online self-study. You select the portions of the courses you want to emphasize in your allotted in-service class time and assign the remainder as independent study. Coaches complete assignments online using the online component (study guide) that accompanies the classroom courses. Coaches work through the online activities at their own pace and complete the exams online. When completed, coaches can print or download course completion certificates to present for continuing education credit or coach certification. This delivery method combines the best of both worlds, classroom instruction of the items you identified and the convenience of allowing coaches to work at their pace and on their own schedule.

As athletic director, instructor, and leader of your team, perhaps the most important piece is the mentorship you provide your coaches. Your coaches are just like the athletes they coach. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” When all is said and done, players will respond to a coach who they know cares about them, and your coaches will respond to you when they know how much you care about them. Consider adding coaching education to your district’s in-service day continuing education options. You’ll make a difference in the lives of your faculty-coaches who might not otherwise receive the training and improve the sport experiences of your student-athletes as well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Coach Reeder