Making coaches education more practical

On the GAINcast this month we’ve been focusing on developing coaches with Frank Dick and Troy Engle. A key theme from both of them is that coaches education needs to be more practical. In developing coaches at Sport Singapore, Engle explained his philosophy: “The best way for coaches to learn is not in the classroom and they don’t like to learn in the classroom. It needs to be practice-based and knowledge they feel is relevant.” In other words, developing coaches happens with them, not to them.

With this in mind, Frank Dick has some ambitious plans for the upcoming International Festival of Athletics Coaching (IFAC) in England. The long-running conference has a new location and new format this year. Rather than a day full of lectures, the Saturday program will be about creating a conversation among the elite coaches in attendance. The goal is to get all the coaches there to simply ask why. As Frank put it to the team of facilitators: “It is my opinion that one of the greatest qualities a coach must have is curiosity. You have that quality at its highest level. You persistently ask why? through life experience and coaching experience because you know that learning is a never ending story: that in everything there’s always a way to do things better and differently.”

» Register now: learn more about IFAC and sign up on their website.

I have the honor of kicking off the Saturday program with a short keynote to frame the day’s discussion. Then I turn things over to a team of world-class coaches to facilitate a discussion in workshops built around key topics like planning, general training, specific strength training, and competition training for different types of sports. I’ve gotten to know the team quite well over the past few years, and cannot think of a better and more open minded group to facilitate a deep conversation on training:

  • Speed group: Jonas Dodoo is one of the youngest and top sprint coaches in the UK, producing multiple sub-10 second sprinters. He also consults for top soccer clubs and England Rugby. We interviewed him back on HMMR Podcast Episode 72.
  • Strength group: Rene Sack is the national coach for discus in Germany, producing top athletes year in and year out. We had him as a guest on podcast Episode 136 and Episode 79. He has also contributed several articles to HMMR Media.
  • Multi-events and team sport group: Jerome Simian has gained a lot of press recently as the strength coach for decathlon world record holder Kevin Mayer. I’ve had the chance to meet up with him several times over the years as he also works with a lot of throwers, but his experience also extends to team sports, tennis, and more. We recently interviewed him on HMMR Podcast Episode 173.
  • Endurance group: Günter Lange is the Senior Manager for Education at the IAAF Development Department and has previously worked as a coach for several top countries around the world.

I would have a hard time choosing what group to stick, as I would like to learn from all of them. But the nice part about being on the faculty is that I get to float between the groups and soak in a bit of information from everyone. I hope to meet some of you all there too.