Obesity is a major health problem in the US and across the world. In light of this trend, physical education of children is crucial to the future health and well-being of the nation as a whole. Research has shown that an early start in good fitness practice sets a person up for a lifetime of benefits. To this end, physical education in schools and community organizations needs to be equitable and fair, available to all and based on sound principles of education and the precepts of modern sports science. Gone are the days of prioritizing certain athletes because of gender or game winning ability. All children need to know how to stay fit, how to enjoy athletics and how to gain the most from their time spent on a variety of physical activities.
Reasons For the Standardization of Coaching
To achieve these ends, two things are necessary: competent, well-educated coaches and sport administrators who have access to professional development and support and, more importantly, a set of comprehensive, easy to follow, enforceable standards of coaching for them to follow. It is for these reasons that NASPE (National Association of Sport and Physical Education) first issued its set of coaching standards in 1995 and revised them in 2006.
Available to everyone and endorsed by over 140 sporting bodies across America these eight coaching standards, the National Standards for Sports Coaches (NSSC), act as guidelines to all the stakeholders in physical education. They are intended for use by:
- Professional coaches at all levels to gain the qualifications and accreditations necessary to ensure and support their professional conduct and to articulate a framework they can use to build sports programs based on scientific and practical coaching principles.
- Providers of coaching education as evaluation tools for their programs and to aid in improving the leadership skills and advancing the educational outcomes of coaches.
- Amateur and volunteer coaches in community sport organizations wishing to know the best possible training and coaching practices available in order to deliver positive experiences and life skills to their athletes.
- The parents who send their children to practice and sporting contests need to be able to evaluate their children’s sports education and understand exactly what is entailed in good coaching practice.
- Sports administrators who need to set levels of coaching performance in their organizations and departments.
- Athletes and students, so they too can evaluate their coach’s performance and have confidence in the coaching they receive.
The NSSC are set out in four domains that consist of forty standards, each containing a number of benchmarks that detail the knowledge coaches should have and the abilities they need in relation to each domain. Briefly the eight domains are:
1. Philosophy and Ethics- standards 1-4 and 23 benchmarks.
This domain revolves around the verbs develop and implement, identify, model and teach, reinforce and demonstrate as applied to an athlete centered philosophy of positive values, ethical behavior and conduct for all those involved in an organization’s sports program.
2. Safety and Injury Prevention- standards 5-11 and 29 benchmarks.
This domain centers on preventing, monitoring and identifying sports injures, facilitating and ensuring the development of a safe environment and addressing the psychological implications of injuries.
3. Physical Conditioning- standards 12-15 and 20 benchmarks.
This concerns the design, teaching, planning, and encouragement necessary for proper nutrition, recovery exercises and physical conditioning and the advocacy of a drug free participation.
4. Growth and Development- standards 16-18 and 18 benchmarks.
This is the application of knowledge of developmental phases, the facilitation and support necessary to promote the lifelong benefits of exercise and the provision of leadership opportunities to athletes as they grow and develop.
5. Teaching and communication- standards 19-26 and 47 benchmarks.
Entails the planning, implementing and utilization of practice activities and instructional strategies, the use of effective communication and the demonstration of appropriate motivational tactics.
6. Sport Skills and Tactics- standards 27-29 and 13 benchmarks.
Encompasses knowing, identifying, developing and applying age and skill level appropriate sports tactics and competitive strategies.
7. Organization and Administration- standards 30-36 and 38 benchmarks.
This covers the management of records, funding, human resources, emergency planning, contests and legal responsibilities.
8. Evaluation- standards 37-40 and 20 benchmarks.
This involves the implementation and utilization of effective evaluation strategies as they relate to team goals, individual performance, athlete motivation, coaching staff and self.
It is easy to see that this comprehensive and detailed set of guidelines is not only useful for evaluation, but also an invaluable support to coaches. Excellent coaching involves sports science, the psychology of motivation and childhood development, planning and communication skills and an understanding of the legal and social environments in which coaches operate.
To successfully fulfill these many competencies and live up to the high expectations placed on them, coaches need excellence of education delivered by tertiary institutions and the backing of professional bodies. These include the non-profit Institute for Sports Coaching (ISC) the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) and the National Council of Coaching Education (NACCE), to name just a few of the larger organizations. All of these bodies support NASPE guidelines and offer professional guidance, education and support to America’s coaches through their programs, conferences and informative learning resources available on their websites.
There are over 50 million children under the age of 18 participating in organized sports programs across America. Every one of these children deserves a quality sports experience that involves enjoyment, equity and safety, one that promotes the life building skills of leadership, physical fitness strategies and underscores the value of healthy nutrition. The future of our nation depends on it.
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