The New Coach Education
It's time for a curriculum that fits modern sport.
Last year, Seth Godin wrote a blog titled The Modern Curriculum which outlined his vision for what education should look like in the future.
In it, Godin points out that the industrial-age system of forcing children to memorize the periodic table is archaic and requires a facelift to match the new world.
Unfortunately, coach education mirrors this outdated schooling system, with an emphasis on rote learning and ‘testing’ to prove competence.
Coaches have never been more educated, while at the same time they’ve never been less prepared for the demands of the job.
In fact, coaches are dropping out of the system so fast that the New York Times is asking those who’ve quit to write in and share their experiences.
We have a coach education system that serves as a cash cow for governing bodies and NSO’s, but is doing little to help the people it’s designed to serve.
It’s time for change.
The New Coach Education
With all of this in mind, here’s our submission for a coach education curriculum that prioritizes the right things, including emphasizing learning and intelligence over assessing the distance between the cones in training.
Imagine being an architect and having no understanding of angles, different types of land, or building materials. How we’ve made it this far in elite sport mandating that coaches understand the organ that makes elite sport possible is outrageous. While every topic in our curriculum requires the brain’s participation, this subject focuses on the central workings of the brain, including prediction, perception, memory, emotion, decisions, relationships, and mental health.
Human history is a tale of teams, but we don’t seem to understand teams. Whether it’s a country, a large company, a football team, or an underrepresented cultural group, understanding how collectives have chosen to organize and govern themselves can hold the key to helping us unlock our team’s potential.
For some reason we moved away from this name, but elite sport doesn’t exist without human movement. This includes a holistic view of medical and rehabilitation, the psychology of movement and injury, skill and speed development, sleep and nutrition.
How and why computers work, data collection and manipulation, understanding money, and querying whether we are keeping the right statistics in our sport. The study of numbers is far more valuable to us than remembering Pythagoras’ theorem.
From marketing to movies, speeches to self-talk, a remarkable amount of our communication is wrapped in story. As a coach, being able to deploy the right story at the right time to the right group is central to your ability to influence, motivate, and build trust.
‘Coaching is just teaching’ is one of the more frustrating mindsets in modern sport, and shows a deep lack of knowledge of the objective of the teaching system and the objective of team invasion games. What’s often overlooked in conversations about learning is that social learning is the only discipline where humans outperform the rest of the animal kingdom. Let’s learn about that!
A lot of coaches know how to run a training drill and give a pre-game talk. Not many know how to lead. Coaching is an elite leadership position that requires a series of finely tuned intelligences and instinct, including how to use power, influence, and empathy. Rather than merely reinforce western stereotypical versions of leadership, this subject explores how leadership looks different among varying sociocultural groups.
Australian Football kicking skills revolutionized punting in American Football, and line rotations in Ice Hockey revolutionized interchange usage in Australian Football. Imagine what else we could learn from each other…
The Human Condition
A study of work, life, and self. Why are we irrational? Why do we expand work to fill the time we allocate it? Why do we seek advancement but fight change? Ultimately, coaching is learning to understand people and what factors impact their behaviour. It seems logical to study people then, no?
Unfair Advantage is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.