A special coaching development trip to Sweden
By Nicola Beattie, sports coach UK Development Lead Officer (Workforce Management)
During September I was lucky enough to be part of a group of eight sport development professionals who travelled to Gothenburg to learn about their coaching system.
Sweden has a very high percentage of people taking part in sport, with almost 50% of their population as active members of local sports clubs. I was particularly keen to find out about how they recruit, develop and retain coaches to meet such high participation rates.
Our hosts were SISU (Swedish Sports Education) a similar organisation to sports coach UK but who focussed on all sports education; coach, club and volunteer development. Lars Lindford a SISU sports consultant arranged a varied and fulfilling programme with different sport federations (equivalent to GBs), local clubs, different staff from SISU and three high profile coaches.
Some of my favourite learning from the week:
Generally everyone we spoke to felt that this was not a problem in Sweden. The main way clubs recruit coaches is parents of children at the club. Coaches are predominantly volunteers similar to the UK. Clubs however tended to be fewer but a lot bigger. One club who considered themselves a small rural club had 14 teams and between 4 and 7 coaches for each team.
Their philosophy which was visible for all to see was:
It is better for many to do a little, than a few to do a lot
This message was strong throughout the different clubs and organisations we visited.
SISU are the main organisation in charge of developing coaches, running a generic introduction to coaching called The Platform with two levels of qualification. The different federations also had their own sport specific qualifications to compliment this.
One thing that was very prevalent was the high amount of informal learning that is encouraged amongst coaches. SISU support clubs to run study circles which involve informal discussions between coaches at clubs on topics of their choice.
SISU also run a credit system for all of their education courses. We equated it to the Tesco club card idea. For example, if a club accesses or creates education for their coaches they gain further credits from SISU to do more education. No money changes hands from club to SISU but there is a value placed on the learning. The more a club does the more they can have - a great way to encourage the continual development of coaches.
Retention of Coaches:
One of the problems faced is the drop out of parents as coaches when their children cease playing at a club. However they don’t tend to experience general drop out. There are good support structures in place for coaches in clubs. They are helped to develop and in the majority of cases supported by someone from the club. As volunteers they are provided with accessible coach education that is often run at the clubs own venue all helping provide a positive supportive environment for the coaches.
An example in Football was the boUFU programme where they have dedicated experts visiting clubs and providing support to coaches.
Those are a few snippets of a highly informative learning week with SISU. Keep an eye out for more Sweden themed blogs over the coming months!