Coaching in the UK

Future of Coaching launched at UK Coaching Summit

Tue, 07 Jun 2016

The way people approach activity and sport is changing. Coaching must be recognised for the wider benefits it brings to society and all those striving to create a healthier, more active nation must extend the scope of what they do to meet the full range of customer needs. Those were the key messages behind a VIP event for Chairs and CEOs from health, education and sport during the 11th UK Coaching Summit in Manchester today.

The meeting marked the culmination of a two-year project involving all five Sports Councils. It started with research by the Future Foundation on the megatrends affecting society over the next 10 years, before narrowing the focus to investigate the impact on sport, and then on coaching.  It was particularly timely, given the emphasis of the Government’s new strategy for sport.

Speaking about the impact on participants, Homeless World Cup President Mel Young said “Sport is the key to success. We don’t talk about people’s problems, we encourage them to become leaders, captains and coaches of their teams. This builds self-esteem and creates employment opportunities.”

Sport Wales Chair Dr Paul Thomas highlighted the value which the 42,000 coaches in Wales bring: “a coach will impact on more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime”. He also called for a halt to the tidal wave of sporting bureaucracy, instead asking us simply to go out and encourage more people to be more active.

Switching the focus from young to old, Elaine McNish from the British Heart Foundation National Centre outlined the varied customer needs of a growing group of older people. She highlighted the time bomb that, by 2015, a quarter of the population will have one or more long term health conditions. Elaine also called for older people to be defined not by their age alone, but by their functionality. She drew the stark comparison of the 20-year gulf in healthy life expectancy between those living in disadvantaged and more affluent communities.

The session raised a number of searching questions, such as:

“To achieve the vision of a healthier, more active nation, should we be educating the existing workforce or do we have to create an entirely new workforce?”

“What extra skills will coaches, instructors, teacher and trainers need if they are to ‘sell’ activity and sport to inactive people who think it’s not for them?”

“How ready are the existing providers of sport and activity to extend the scope of what they offer to reach these new markets?”

Several in the audience were quick to point out that the shift of focus from developing sport in communities to developing communities through sport must be seen as extending all the good work that is already being done, rather than replacing it. We must never lose sight of the millions who enjoy sport for sport’s sake and the smaller number of people following the talent pathways to elite success.

The session closed with sports coach UK’s Kevin Bowring inviting the group to identify the impact which the future of coaching will have on each of their organisations and continue to work together to share best practice.

See the short film summarising the Future of Coaching project below or via our YouTube channel. To see the four long term aspirations and the priority actions identified by the UK Coaching Committee, see the pdf attached.

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