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.
Kristen Dieffenbach and Damon Burton
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stiliani “Ani” Chroni, Kristen Dieffenbach, and Sigurd Pettersen
The aim of the study was to explore what sport federations look for when recruiting elite athletes into coaching, and what resources are offered to retiring elite athletes transitioning to coaching careers. The authors interviewed 10 federation officials representing eight different sports, winter and summer, individual and team sports. Thematic analysis was employed and four “what recruiters look for” higher-order themes were found, including: having the whole package essential for coaching, personal attributes displayed in their time as an athlete, singular dedication to the sport, and knowing them from their time as an athlete. Three higher-order themes surrounding resources were identified, on the support provided to those going from athlete-to-coach to facilitate a stable start, professional development, and holistic wellbeing. These resources were also considered in relation to the phase at which they were offered in the transition process, such as upon hiring, early on in the career, and as ongoing ones. While a standard or universal approach to this does not appear to exist, practices and approaches were identified here that were considered within the scope of the existing research and can be used to inform future coach development work.
Melissa A. Murray, Rebecca Zakrajsek, and Kristen D. Dieffenbach
Schempp, McCullick and Mason (2006) suggested gaining hands-on experience is the key element of coach development and the process of becoming a professional expert in the field. Cushion, Armour, and Jones (2003) also recommend the opportunity to observe more experienced coaches as a key experience in novice coach’s development. At the collegiate level in the U.S., a model similar to scholastic teacher training is the foundation for academic-based coaching education programs that seek to combine classroom-based education with experiential learning. In these programs student coaches are generally required to participate in field internship experiences in order to develop a strong art- and science-based approach to coaching. This internship experience is one of great importance, especially since expert coaches have identified having a quality mentor relationship early in their career as essential to their development as a coach (Nash & Sproule, 2009).