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Unlocking the potential of University students

By Anne Baker sports coach UK Coach Education Advisor

Are you a student who coaches a team at your University or College?

Are you qualified to coach your sport?

Would you like to be qualified to coach your sport?

Are you doing a coaching or sports related degree?

Are you a Governing Body Coach Education Manager?

Do you organise coaching in Higher Education?

If Yes read on.......

The education of coaches has come a long way in the last 10 years. The UKCC has raised standards and brought parity across the sports in the UK.

The coaching landscape has changed and building upon this rise in standards, the young people now coming into coaching have in many cases received a higher quality of coaching.

The other major changes are those generally in education. A large number of young people interested in sport have qualified with a GCSE in physical education, ‘A’ level physical education or sports science, BTEC or similar qualifications.

Young people in particular now come into coaching with more skill sets than the initial learners on UKCC approved qualifications.

They know and generally understand:

  • how to organise groups of participants
  • communication styles
  • learning styles
  • the physiology of warm ups and cool downs
  • the principles of nutrition and hydration
  • anatomy and physiology
  • basic training principles and the effect of the body
  • some acquisition of motor skill principles

Much of this is level 2 coaching knowledge

Added to this we also have numerous courses in Higher Education linked to Coaching that further expand this knowledge and bespoke degrees in Coaching.

A general anecdotal observation in my experience as a Hockey Tutor is that the learners have a much more informed background in the theory and related knowledge in and of coaching and that much of this comes from formal physical education qualifications and general community involvement and volunteering undertaken in many schools, whatever type of school it might be.

My thoughts have evolved during the last two years when in May 2012 I delivered a level 2 hockey course and had up to 10 students all take sports related courses at University who all played a good level of hockey.

They had all the under pinning theory knowledge..... often knowing far more than me. They understood how to set up practices, deliver skill sessions, progress them and ensure they were pitch and position related, working in units totally related to the game.

I have observed in other university sessions the coaching of student teams by their peers in my sport and in many others sports. I have asked questions around qualifications and a number have:

  • Leadership
  • Level 1
  • Sports leaders awards
  • Some have no formal qualification but claim to have learned from good coaching

These young people often play a good level in their sport and have come from sports clubs and when they leave University and go to work they intend to remain in that sport. Some of my club players are still talking about the fact that they received ‘County’ coaching from a University student who is now playing for England and scoring goals that are televised.

These young people can be great role models and advocates for a sport.

The way coach education is delivered now needs to change in the 21stcentury; let us find ways of offering bespoke courses while well suited learners are at University to ensure they can qualify as Level 2 coaches

Benefits of this:

  • students have more time than when they start work
  • universities often offer their facilities free of charge for their students
  • costs can therefore be reduced
  • many are coaching their peers in university teams
  • a number are helping in local clubs
  • many universities have volunteer coaching schemes and incentives
  • they leave University with a level 2 qualification

I am embarking on a Level 2 hockey course based at the University of Exeter in partnership with the University of St Mark and St John (Plymouth) hoping that this format may be the start of many, so when students leave university they will be qualified to coach independently.


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