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Exploring Learning Among USA Cycling Licensed Coaches

Kristen Dieffenbach

In 2006 the updated standards for coaching education programs concerning the eight NASPE coach knowledge area domains (National Standards for Sport Coaches, 2006) were released. Despite these standards and an increased awareness regarding the importance of area-specific knowledge (Nash & Collins, 2006), the culture of sport often requires little to no formalized science-based training for coaches. U.S. coaches typically enter the profession through volunteer or assistant coach type experiences with little to no formal training. While hands-on experience is important, it leaves many coaches with training knowledge gaps. In an effort to meet the needs of aspiring coaches and to increase the professionalism and the qualifications of coaches working with athletes, many U.S. sport national governing bodies (NGB’s) offer coaching certification programs. However, little is known about how to best disseminate information in a manner that will meet both the needs and learning styles of practicing coaches. This study focuses on the learning preferences, habits and attitudes of one NGB group – USA Cycling licensed coaches.

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Coaching for the Inner Edge

Kristen Dieffenbach

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Cornerstones of Coaching: The Building Blocks of Success for Sport Coaches and Teams

Kristen Dieffenbach

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Mental Skills for Young Athletes: A Mental Skills Workbook for Athletes

Kristen Dieffenbach and Damon Burton

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Essential Tools for the Evolution of Expertise in Coaching

Wesley Meeter and Kristen Dieffenbach

Stone, Stone and Sands (2005) noted the critical lack of sport science and research based coaching practices in the United States. They noted that current practices are commonly not based on a systematic approach to coaching that allows for both intentionally applied evidence based scientific principles and valid and reliable evaluation methods. Coaching is a profession that requires strong decision making skills, constant assessment, and consistent integration of new information for successful talent development and performance management. Like athletic talent development, the development of these professional skills and the overall development of coaching expertise takes time and deliberate effort (Schempp, 2006). Unfortunately, while formal coaching education program and sport science studies emphasize the physiological, technical and tactical sides of preparing athletes, less attention is paid to the formal development of critical thinking and self-assessment necessary for professional growth and development as a coach. Further, the prevalent grass roots ‘athlete to coach’ and ‘assistant to head’ mentorship models of coach development provide even fewer opportunities for the systematic and deliberate development of these crucial skills.

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“Older and Faster”: Exploring Elite Masters Cyclists’ Involvement in Competitive Sport

Karen M. Appleby and Kristen Dieffenbach

The purpose of this study was to investigate elite masters cyclists’ involvement in competitive sport. Using a descriptive, qualitative approach, the researchers interviewed ten elite-level masters cyclists. Data analysis revealed the following salient themes relevant to participants’ experiences: (a) athletic identity, (b) motivational factors, and (c) life balance. These findings suggest that participation as an elite-level masters athlete reflects a high degree of continuity for athletic identity that can be positive in relation to self-esteem and social validation and challenging in relation to transition and maintaining social relationships out of cycling settings.

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Current Practices in United States Higher Education Coach Education Programs

Lori A. Gano-Overway and Kristen Dieffenbach

The purpose of this study was to identify the number and type of higher education institution’s (HEI) coach education programs (CEP) within the USA and survey CEP coordinators regarding curricular practices and program challenges. Researchers conducted an online search to collect information about the type of program, field experiences, and accreditation status of HEI’s CEP. As a follow-up, program coordinators were requested to participate in an online survey including information about curricular content, practical experiences, alignment with standards, and program challenges. Three hundred and eight HEI offered CEP, most were minor programs. Fifty nine percent of these programs offered field experiences and only 4% were NCACE accredited. Sixty two program coordinators completed the online survey. Seventy four percent of these programs offered a field experience, 72% had additional practical experiences incorporated into coursework, and 45% of programs definitely aligned with the National Standards of Sport Coaches while 9% definitely aligned with the International Sport Coaching Framework. Program coordinators also indicated five challenge areas related to academic setting, student learning, community perceptions, marketing, standards and accreditation. Overall, an increased number of HEI offer CEP providing some evidence that coaching is advancing as a profession within the USA; however, this study identifies areas of improvement and challenges facing programs.

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Challenges Experienced by Women High-Performance Coaches: Sustainability in the Profession

Göran Kenttä, Marte Bentzen, Kristen Dieffenbach, and Peter Olusoga

High-performance (HP) coaching is a demanding profession. The proportion of woman HP coaches is reported to be in the range of 8.4–20%. Mental health concerns in elite sports have recently gained attention, but mainly focusing on athletes. Beyond coach burnout, limited attention has been given to coaches’ mental health. A recent coach burnout review included only one paper that focused exclusively on women. It has been argued that women HP coaches face greater challenges in a male-dominated coaching culture. The purpose of this study was to explore challenges experienced by women HP coaches and their perceived associations with sustainability and mental health. Thirty-seven female HP coaches participated by answering a semistructured, open-ended questionnaire. All responses were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis, which resulted in two general dimensions: challenges of working as women HP coaches and sustainability and well-being as women HP coaches. Overall, results indicate that challenges reported might be common not only for all HP coaches, but also highlight gender-specific elements. Consequently, coach retention and sustainability would benefit from more attention on well-being and mental health among HP coaches.

Open access

Legal Requirements and Responsibilities for Coaching Education Internships

Melissa Murray, Kristen Dieffenbach, and Rebecca Zakraj sek

According to the National Coaching Report (NASPE, 2008), over 57 million youth participated in organized sport in 2006, with around eight million of those participating in interscholastic sport. While the NFHS has been a major advocate for coaching education in the interscholastic setting, the other 87% of the youth sport participants are likely being serviced by ill-prepared coaches. In response to the 1970s call for more prepared coaches (NASPE, 2008), collegiate institutions have created academic programs in coaching education. These academic programs seek to prepare qualified coaches at all levels of competition (e.g., youth, interscholastic, intercollegiate, professional, elite). In an effort to provide students with hands on, applied experiences, academic programs generally require some sort of internship. In a recent study, coaching education students reported having numerous opportunities to motivate, encourage, and build confidence in athletes during their internships (Dieffenbach, Murray, & Zakrajsek, 2010), all of which are interpersonal interactions. Given that interpersonal interactions are one of the most significant factors impacting athlete development and the athlete – coach relationship (Jowett, 2003; Jowett & Cockerill, 2003), student coaches are in a critical position. Therefore, these findings beg for a system of checks to be in place within the internship process, namely background checks, required health insurance, and university waivers. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the regulations and policies in place to protect the student-athletes, student coaches, and university programs during internships in coaching education. Issues like legal responsibilities of the universities, background check policies and procedures, school district-specific requirements, and other policies in place will be discussed in an interactive session. The discussion will also highlight what other organizations (NGBs, NFHS) are doing or could be doing to aid in the protection of their athletes and coaches.

Open access

A Critical Review of American Academic Coaching Education Programs

Kristen D. Dieffenbach and Valerie Wayda

Among the physical activity, exercise and health related academic disciplines, coaching education remains an under-developed field. Once closely aligned with physical education, coaching education has remained practically immobile despite the activity and growth in the related functional fitness and sport performance fields of exercise and sport sciences such as sport pedagogy, exercise physiology, and sport and exercise psychology. This article provides a historical context for the evolution of the academic discipline of coaching education within the broader field of physical education and a brief overview of coaching education as it exists within academia today. Recommendations and suggestions are made for the future growth and development of the coaching education discipline.