Sports Coaches, Is The Responsibility Too Big?

As a former gymnastics coach, for more than a decade, I know how much we as sports coaches love the sport, and most importantly that the love for the sport was why we became coaches in the first place. What I didn’t know when I started my own journey becoming a coach was all of the other responsibilities that came along with that title. Especially in less professionalised sports.

I was totally under qualified (…)

Oliver Bay

From experience, from the top of my head, I can recall having to deal with these titles at the same time over the years: Sports Coach, Team Manager, Physical Trainer, Mental Coach, “Step Parent” (mostly on training camps), and Team Leader. All of which, besides the role of the nerdy gymnastics coach, understanding gymnastics, I was totally under qualified of fulfilling. I didn’t have the prober knowhow to mange a team – talking to parents, handling conflicts within the team etc. Didn’t have the much needed knowledge and certification for performing physical training with kids and young adults. Didn’t have a kid, so trying to calm a 11 year old girl who was home sick wasn’t something I really knew how to do.

I could name a lot more examples of things I wasn’t really qualified for, or ready for when I started my career as a Sports Coach. And maybe i never should have been in charge of all of those things. Today when I look back, we needed a more systematic and professional approach to the set-up around the team. There has been many frustrations in relation to surrounding tasks, needing my attention. Taking a way from what I should have been able to focus on – the thing i actually loved and knew a lot about – THE SPORT.

What should the clubs do?

I think, the less professionalised sports needs to take a hard look on their current setup and evaluate: which parts of this is great, which are acceptable and which needs to be changed?

For me the two biggest elements I see that needs to be changed are taking away the big responsibility of physical and mental training from the coaches, who by the way (at least in Denmark) most often are volunteers. The third thing (although I feel many clubs actually have this one figured out by now) would be getting a Team Manager assigned to the team, one who have some life experience, who knows what to do, when kids start to cry in the middle of the night etc., so coaches have someone to ask for help.

sports coaches should be able to focus solely on the sports aspect of training.

Oliver Bay

My guess is that every sports coach is hired because of their skill set within the sport. Their ability to teach kids and young adults the rules, techniques and tactics of the sport. In my opinion sports coaches should be able to focus solely on the sports aspect of training. For this to be a reality, an athlete team needs a team of coaches around them – sport coaches, physical trainers, mental coaches and a team manager.

Investing in hiring a professional physical or mental trainer, will not only result in more time for the coaches to focus on the sports specific training, it will also guarantee the quality within the physical or mental training for the athletes.

One thing physical and mental training has in common is, that when done incorrectly it can cause more harm than good. Especially when it comes to younger kids. Their training should be supervised by trained professionals, who have spend years perfecting their skill set and knowledge on the area.

Having an external expert on board

Having an external expert on board can be the right solution for many clubs. With economy being a factor, the club might now wanna or do not have the funds to hire a full time coach for both the physical and mental aspects. Hiring an external consultant can be a cheaper way to appropriate the quality and professionalism your team of athletes needs.

The dynamic and collaboration between the sports coaching staff and the external consultant(s) have to be good. It’s most important that everyone understands, that you are working together for the greater good of the athletes. A well oiled machine will run the motor the longest and the fastest.

When I work with clubs, I make sure to keep in close contact with the sports coaches, and take their input and evaluations very seriously. I have to, if I’m going to make an impact for the team.

Train With Purpose and Dominate Your Sport 🚀

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