Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coaching Education Rant

There are a lot of people being mis-guided at best and some probably ripped off. Institutionally ripped-off. By the very people they were looking towards, to educate them for their future.

It's that time of year when a lot of graduates are looking for jobs. I'm looking for some coaches. The former and latter don't match up however. Unfortunately, many (if not most) college graduates are not ready to coach.

They play or like sports. They may enjoy coaching, sports medicine, and/or fitness. They pick an exercise science or kinesiology program. Spend lots of money for years or school, exercise science classes, and expensive textbooks. They finish with a degree. They send out resumes and look for a job as strength or performance coach. They put in the hard work and spent the money. That's what everyone said they were supposed to do.

Now look at it from my point of view. Most apply and don't even know what we do in sports performance coaching. They think its like personal training. They have never coached any athletes. None of their classes were in pedagogy (the art or science of being a teacher and generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction). They have never coached anyone in max velocity mechanics or a power clean. They probably haven't even dealt with kids in a large group at a camp, but they can tell me about the krebs cycle.

This does me no good. They have no skills of value yet. They probably don't even know enough about what we do to determine if they like it or not. I have to teach them how to do anything useful at this point.

Now don't get me wrong, I strongly believe in education. You need the science, but coaching is a HANDS-ON field. If your intention is to coach in some way, and you get zero experience coaching during your education, you are not being prepared.

I think the blame lies with both the student and the institution.

The students needs to be wise consumers and select the best programs for where they want to go. As someone who's undergraduate degree is in Sound Engineering & Acoustic Design, I understand students often start school without knowing what they really want. Still, I choose a school that provided me with hands-on learning and multiple internships.

Institutions are often so caught up in theory and the business of traditional schooling that students finish with no appreciable skills. If a student is on a track that leads to coaching, fitness training, or something where they will actively interact and instruct people in movement, than you better expose your students to it. Not just in a week overview, but more in-depth. I like the programs where the upper level student have to do an internship.

Make your students do some training as well. One of the values of the physical education majors was that they had to go out and learn different sports and experience that process. They also had to teach activity classes and learn pedagogy.

Part of the problem is also the "SHOW ME THE MONEY" attitude of many graduates. They think they've earned something. You have, the readiness to start learning how to coach. If you show promise, I'll even offer you an extensive internship where you can learn coaching skills in strength, speed, video analysis, coaching pedagogy, exposure to experienced coaches and experts in multiple disciplines, become part of a broad coaching network, and more. I wont even charge you for all this, but don't expect to be highly paid yet.

I was always impatient and hated being told I had to "pay my dues." You do need to develop some coaching skills however so you become valuable to an employer, team or institution.

A degree does not a coach make.