Consulting with National volunteer coaches of youth athletes

Mark Holland, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

Theme: Consulting/private practice

Program ID: SYM-11

Presentation: October 3, 2013 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm

Room: Melrose


In recent years there has been a growing emphasis on a more systematic and comprehensive approach to coach education. This has resulted in the advancement of formal programs to promote coaching practices in areas such as skill acquisition, strength and conditioning, and nutrition. However, sport psychology is still drastically underrepresented within many national coaching qualifications within UK. Indeed, Cushion, Armour and Jones (2003) noted that experience and observation are the primary sources of knowledge for coaches. These informal learning styles make coaches’ application of mental skills training (MST) vulnerable in the face of barriers, whether real or perceived (e.g., Pain & Harwood, 2004). Furthermore, little research has examined how coaches teach mental techniques to their athletes (Gould, Medbury, Darmarjian, & Lauer, 1999). This highlights the need for more systematic teaching of MST for coaches. This presentation aims to describe an evidenced-based MST education program for volunteer national coaches. The aims of the coach education program were twofold. First, to develop the coaches’ own mental skills through the application of cognitive-behavioral techniques that would support his or her coaching performance. Research has demonstrated that coaching behaviours directly influence athletes’ psychological state (e.g., Duda & Balaguer, 2007; Smith & Smoll, 1996). This goal of the program, therefore, attempts to support their coaching performance, learning, and well-being. Second, the program aims to promote the coaches’ ability and confidence to integrate MST into their current coaching practices. This tried to reduce the reliance on coaches developing positive MST practice through intuition or unstructured experience. This presentation will outline: 1) the evidenced-based process through which the curricula of the program was developed; 2) the barriers faced in implementing the program with national volunteer coaches; 3) the structure of the coach education program; 4) and the development of an integrated MST coaching resource.

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