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Principles of Good Assessment Practice in Coach Education: An Initial Proposal

Liam McCarthy, Hans Vangrunderbeek, and David Piggott

Despite its obvious importance, we argue that assessment as a feature of coach education programmes has been overlooked in the peer-reviewed published literature. As a result, it is suggested that approaches to assessing sport coaches within coach education programmes can sometimes be ill considered and lead to suboptimal experiences for multiple stakeholders. To address this problem situation, we tentatively propose five interconnected principles of assessment in the first section of this article. These include the integration of teaching, learning, and assessment; assessment as a means of developing metacognitive skills; authentic/practice-based assessment; clearly and transparently foregrounding success criteria; and collaboration within assessment activities. By considering these principles, we suggest that there is much to be gained by the coach education community. In the second section, we showcase how these principles have been adopted within a football coach education programme in Flanders (Belgium). With this example, we explain why assessment became a central concern of the organisation and how they developed an effective assessment approach. Finally, we invite considered discussion and comments on our paper, with a view to starting a conversation in an area that is scarcely spoken about.

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An Empirical Examination of U.K. Coaches’ Issues and Problems, and Their Support and Advice Networks

Julian North, David Piggott, Alexandra Rankin-Wright, and Michael Ashford

Although there have been increasing calls to recognise the “voice of the coach” in both policy and research, there has been very little work that has asked the coaches directly: “what are your main issues and problems?” and “where do you go for support?” Instead, assessments and decisions have been made on these issues by the media, policy makers, support agencies, governing bodies, and researchers with results often reflecting the perspectives and interests of the latter. This paper presents new research with a reasonably representative sample of over 1,000 U.K. coaches that considers the issues and problems, and support networks from the perspective of the coaches themselves. The results suggest that coaches experience a wide range of problems but that they can be broken down into 17 main categories with places to play sport (e.g., facilities), problems with player–coach interaction, and problems with coaching knowledge and skills, being most frequently mentioned. In terms of support networks, the coaches tended to look “closest to home”: to themselves, their family/friends, participants and parents, and local coaching networks. Governing bodies and coaching associations tend to be less well used. Some implications for policy and practise are discussed.

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Integrating Psychosocial Skill and Characteristic Development Into an English Academy Soccer Coaching Program: A Preliminary Investigation

Tom O. Mitchell, Ian H.J. Cowburn, Dave B. Alder, Kevin Till, Martin A. Littlewood, Tony Cook, and David Piggott

This study aimed to assess the impact of a psychosocial development program on academy soccer players with coaches being central design and delivery. The 8 Pillars program (designed to foster Communication, Control, Commitment, Confidence, Concentration, Resilience, Presence, and Self-awareness) was delivered through player workshops, coaching practice, and coach-led environmental manipulation. A total of 25 academy soccer players (M age 14.7 ± 0.3) completed the Psychological Characteristics of Development Excellence Questionnaire-2 pre- and postseason, and a self-report scale for each of the eight prescribed psychosocial skills and characteristics at five time points across the season. Significant (p < .05) improvement between pre- and postseason for “Imagery and Active Preparation,” “Seeking and Using Social Support,” and “Active Coping” factors within the Psychological Characteristics of Development Excellence Questionnaire-2 were evident. Significant (p < .05) improvements were shown for “Communication,” “Control,” “Commitment,” “Concentration,” and “Resilience” scales across the season. These findings give initial efficacy that a targeted, multifaceted program, largely delivered by coaches, can improve player self-reported psychosocial skills and characteristics in a U.K. academy soccer setting.