NASPE has developed national standards for coaches with Standard 8 focusing on providing athletes with responsibility and leadership opportunities as they mature. Standard 8 states that coaches should engage athletes in opportunities that nurture leadership and teamwork, which can be learned on the field and exhibited in life. It further states that sports provide an atmosphere for trial and error through practice and competition. Much is expected of team leaders; however, few of them are ever formally taught the leadership skills they need to perform effectively. Like physical skills, leadership skills must be systematically taught, developed, and practiced. Through a structured leadership program, some of the trial and error can be eliminated. High school cross country athletes (N=8) participated in an eight-week structured leadership program. The program met once a week, with each athlete leading a weekly session and the coach serving as a moderator. The topics addressed were: understanding the rewards, risks and responsibilities of leadership, leading by example, and vocal leadership. The athletes also spent five hours performing a community leadership service project and attended a leadership lecture presented by a national expert. There was a significant improvement between a pre and post self-rated Team Leadership Evaluation survey (Janssen, 2007). The athletes felt the program was effective, as they were able to develop insights and leadership skills needed to be more effective leaders.
Coaches play an extremely valuable role in a profession that offers the opportunity to help develop young people. The purpose of this study, which assessed the state of coaching education, was two-fold: 1) to determine coaching education knowledge and skills in meeting the National Coaching Standards, and 2) to determine the application of effective coaching principles in meeting the National Coaching Standards. An email containing a website link for an online survey was sent to all athletic directors in Kansas middle and high schools asking them to forward the website link to all coaches they worked with. A total of 1,414 surveys were returned. The current state of coaching education assessment listed the national coaching standards developed by NASPE and used a Likert scale to ask how prepared and successful the coaches are in meeting the standard. Results of the survey indicated that coaches feel highly prepared and successful in the following coaching standard topics: teaching positive behavior (Standard 2), demonstrating ethical conduct (Standard 4), environmental conditions (Standard 7), positive learning environments (Standard 19), and skills of the sport (standard 27). Coaches indicated that they felt least prepared and least successful in the following standards: coordinated health care program (Standard 10), psychological implications (Standard 11), conditioning based on exercise physiology (Standard 12), teaching proper nutrition (Standard 13), conditioning to return to play after injury (Standard 15), mental skill training (Standard 24), managing human resources (Standard 32), managing fiscal resources (Standard 33) and emergency action plans (Standard 34). Findings from the study can be used to direct coaching education in the areas coaches feel they are less prepared and less successful.