According to Semotuik (1982) sport coaching goes back to the fourth century B.C to ancient Greece. It is evident that by the fifth century B.C coaching became more structured and organised, where the coaches were responsible in giving the athletes technical instruction, fitness and motivation leading up to festival participation (Semotuik, 1982).In ancient Greece sport coaching was recognised as a leading profession. At one point Greek maritime profession was criticised by the great philosopher Aristotle because it has been less well organised as a science compared to coaching athletes (Semotuik, 1982).
In the days a coach was responsible in giving an athlete technique instructions, fitness and motivation to achieve excellence (Semotuik, 1982). This applies to modern day coaching, as Woodman, (1993) and Bompa, (1994) mentions that coaching is a process that aids athlete to achieve their peak performance in competition. However it is important to mention that modern day coaching has evolved into a more holistic approach where coaches consider the athlete as an emotional, cultural, political and a spiritual being (Cassidy et.al, 2004) compared to a more rigid approach where coaches were more fixed with the logic behind training that at some times they have neglected the well being of their athletes (Semotuik, 1982).
Modern sport coaching began with the industrialisation and urbanisation that happened throughout UK in the 18th and 19th century and it can be divided to 3 main periods (Lyle, 2002). In the first period as McNab, (1990) points out coaching has developed from a more individual sport basis as coaching working class boxes and runners in the early 1800s through to the early coaches of largely team sports in public schools. Coaches of these team sports were teachers who were introduced to the team sports while they were at university (Lyle, 2002).
In the second period participants were divided into amateurs and professionals. Amateurs were involved, for the love of the sport although competition was involved. The tension of amateurism and professionalism was spreading to clubs and NGBs in this time period. Although this conflict was evident throughout the world, due to the cultural background, amateurism was well highlighted in UK sport during this era (Lyle, 2002).
Third period was the post war era. In this period most of the nations were egger to reinstall their national pride and used success in sport as a mean of achieving it (Lyle, 2002).
Sport has been considered a way to entertain crowds in the ancient Greece (Semotuik, 1982). In the post war era it was used as a mean of showing the national identity in the international arena (Lyle, 2002) to modern day, though the recognition in the international arena is one of the key factors that is considered to thrive in sport, participation in sport has increased because, involvement in sport plays a major role in tackling obesity and psychological and physiological wellbeing of the nation (Sport Coach UK, 2008).
UK Sport, (2001) has recognised the importance of coaching and recommended that the standards of coaching be elevated to those of a profession central to the development of sport and the fulfilment of individual potential. To achieve this UK coaching frame, (2006) was introduced and the goals were divided into 3 phases (building foundations 2006 – 2008, delivering the goals 2006 – 2012 and finally transforming the system 2006 – 2016) Sport Coach UK, (2008) sees professionalization process in sport coaching as a key element in the ‘up-skilling’ of the coaching workforce and critical in the upkeep of the health of the nation and increase the degree and longevity of the participation in physical activity, as well as success when performing in the international arena. One of the strategic action areas identified by the UK Coaching Framework, (2006) is to recognise coaching as a professionally regulated vocation.
Lyle, (2002) has identified the traits and characteristics of a sport coaching profession as having a professional education, a distinct and specialised body of knowledge, career structures and pathways, explicit ethical and value system, an independent professional membership body, professional practise and clarity and definition with their remit and role. Sport Coach UK, (2008) has used this as a base to improve the specific characteristics in the professionalization process.
Coach education not only plays a major role in the process of professionalization but it is also mentioned that participants enjoy the sport and retention levels are high when participants are with a trained coach compared to a untrained coach (Tonsing, 2007). Mallett et al., (2009) places coach education in a continuum, formal coach education in one end of the spectrum and informal coach education in the other end and has placed non formal coach education in the middle of the continuum.
Mallett et al., (2009) defines formal education as education with highly institutionalised, bureaucratic, syllabus driven and officially recognised with grades and qualifications. Non formal coaching education takes place when the coaches are either invited or on their own attend seminars, conferences and workshops to gain knowledge. In other words non formal education takes place when coaches attend willingly to structured courses not to gain qualifications but solely to widen their knowledge (Mallett et al., 2009). Evidence suggests that there is a greater impact in the learning process for coaches through informal education. Informal education can take place when the learner is in a practical environment and learns through their experience, trial and error (Mallett et al., 2009), working with more experienced coaches, reflection, and operating with a coaching community of practice (Roberts, 2010). Nash and Sproule, (2009) and Wright et al., (2007) points out how pre -coaching experience i.e. when coaches were competing as athletes act as informal coach education and help to develop expert coaches.
For this reason although it is important to have a formal education as part of the professionalization process, by including non formal and informal education in the coach education programmes, maximum benefits can be harnessed in having effective coaches at all levels.
Cushion et al., (2003) identifies coaching as highly complex and dynamic. Therefore Wright et al., (2007) points out the importance of incorporating a wide range of skills and knowledge in the formal education programmes.
Since coaching is dynamic and complex, Gilbert and Trudel, (2004) argues that due to lack of broad formal training in highly planned environments in sports coaching compared to other professions such as teaching, coaches lack the knowledge of how they should frame their role. Primary function of a coach is to coordinate and integrate all of the coaching process (Lyle, 2002). Nash et al., (2008) mentions that the role that coaches fulfil is based on their experience, knowledge, values, opinions and beliefs but how the coaches frame their role and philosophy was not clear. Gilbert and Trudel, (2004) suggest that boundary components of a coach’s role frame mainly includes whether the participants are recreational or competing and the age group of the participants. Lyle, (2002) further illustrates the importance of differentiating performance coaching from participation coaching because of the skills needed in both differs from one another. It is evident that a performance coach will need the skills and knowledge in all areas such as direct intervention, intervention support, Constraints management and strategic co-ordination however role of the participation coach is limited only to direct intervention and therefore does not need strategic and co-ordinating skills (Lyle, 2002). Also by differentiating the two, intra role conflicts can be avoided (Lyle, 2002).
United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) has acted upon these suggestions when structuring and delivering courses. National Governing Bodies such as Amateur Swimming Association has divided the courses in two different pathways, coaching and teaching aquatics. By doing this they intend to separate performance coaching from participation coaching and identify them as two separate carrier pathways. Although the level 1 is transferable throughout all the disciplines, teaching, coaching swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and water polo as the coach progresses towards higher levels course programmes are more specific to the roles. (ASA, 2010)
Most of the coaching takes place for children between the ages of 6 to 16. This is a crucial time period because most of the social values and life skills such as fair play, respect for others, working with others, skill development, cooperation, decision making, leadership and moral development are some of the outcomes of participating in sports that provides a foundation for adult life. (McCallister et al., 2002).
Therefore coaches have been encouraged to hold on to a coaching philosophy that not only values the brilliance in sport but also promotes athletes to develop as a balanced integrated individual as in general (Haney et al., 1998). It is important to highlight the coaches’ acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. As Lyle, (2002) elaborates how morality is a judgement based on right principles which can be effected by the roots in religious and moral philosophy and are guides to right or wrong behaviour. Sports Coach UK, (2005) lays out four key principles to reflect for good coaching practise, rights – coaches must respect the rights of every individual to participate in sport, Relationships – should base of openness, honesty, mutual trust and respect, responsibilities in personal standards – coaches need to demonstrate proper personal behaviour, responsibilities in professional standards – to minimise risks coaches should attain a high level of competence through qualifications and training that ensures safe and correct practise. Lyle, (2002), further discusses that ethics are a more sound set of principles formulated around behaviour in a particular activity. Therefore ethics studies focus more negative or inappropriate practise (Lyle, 2002). It is crucial to identify the values and ethics system if coaching is to recognise as a profession (Sports Coach UK, 2008). Lyle, (2002) identifies interpersonal relationships, power differentials, influencing outcomes or performance, social role and inappropriate goal setting as examples of ethical practise.
Lyle, (2002) identifies professionalization of sport coaching not as an end result but as a process where it will be tested and compared to other professions throughout. Sports Coach UK, (2008) identifies some of the enablers and barriers to professionalization. Building on a culture of change where lot of funding through the national lottery.
Also the establishment of UKCC can be seen as a huge enabler towards professionalising coaching. One of the commitment from UKCC to the National Governing Bodies is for the coach educators to have a minimum standard (Sports Coach UK, 2008).
The 2012 factor can be seen as an enabler due to the fact that previously interest has been faded after a while but hosting the Olympic games will help to keep the interest within the government and the public (Sports Coach UK, 2008).
Also coaching can be enhanced by the government’s wider health policy where coaches’ work with other professions can be seen as an enabling factor along with having a professional body for coaching, championing the work of coaches and building on internal support from with the sports sector has been identified as enablers by Sports Coach UK, (2008).
Sports Coach UK, (2008) points out some of the barriers that resists or slows down the professionalization process. Internal resistance from within sport is one of the main barriers that has been identified. Main reason for this is because of the culture and the unique history of the country. Within many sport organisations the ethos of mutual aid and volunteerism are core values also since the change is rapid, since most of the coaches are volunteers coach management systems and education schemes will be unsettling and problematic (Tayler, 2007).
Also changes in government priorities can be seen as another key barrier towards professionalization. As Green, (2004) points out how the priorities has shifted within sport from mass participation in the mid 1990s to shifting priorities to raising the game at national level. Although it is evident that the in 2002 with the Game Plan publication, the focus has been widen to consider both aspects of participation and performance (Green, 2004). Although the alignment with 2012 Olympic games as being the target for the professionalization of the occupation, some of the changes that has happened throughout the years in changes in funding (Sport England, 2010) will make a impact to the process (Sports Coach UK, 2008).
Transformation of a mainly volunteer based provision into one where most of the coaches are in fulltime paid work can be seen unrealistic, also Sports Coach UK, (2008) identifies fragmentation within the employment and deployment of coaches, lack of opportunities for employment and changes in the leisure and sport market can be viewed as barriers towards professionalization of sport coaching.
In order to monitor and evaluate the process of professionalization in 2012 Sports Coach UK, (2008) has devised three scenarios gold, silver and bronze against the establishment of professional body, employment and deployment of coaches, establishment of coaching licence, development of market place for coaching services, establishment of high quality coach education and CPD and the perception of the coaching professional. Gold scenario is where all the characteristics have attained highest standards and bronze being the least achieved. Although it is good to evaluate the process since it is measured against 6 factors some of them can to high standard and some of them might achieve poor standards (Sports Coach UK, 2008).
Although enablers towards professionalization is relatively strong due to the public interest because of the 2012 games and other enablers, the outcome of the scenario whether it is gold, silver or bronze will depend on how well the process can withstand the tensions of the governments changing policies and other barriers towards professionalization. Since most of the NGBs are with UKCC and some of the NGBs such as Amateur Swimming Association has already started licensing the existing work force it is evident that positive changes are taking place. When it comes to judging the progress in 2012 it will be important to consider who is going to judge the progress and what will be the progress beyond 2012 in attaining the worlds’ number one system.
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