Mandatory Learning

Posted: January 16, 2012 in NSCAA, US Soccer
Tags: , , , ,

Coaching licensing has always been an issue in leagues and associations around the world.  Here in the US it is a particularly strong debate because in the “Big Four” sports coaches don’t have a licensing program like we do in soccer.  The athletic culture in the US is to hire coaches based on experience and past success.

So how should we view soccer associations that mandate specific licensing levels to determine paid, or even volunteer coaching positions?

Coaching education gives us a framework of how to teach the game.  It lays out a progression and thought process that is supposed to be a guide to use, not a rigid mold that everything must fit into.  In all honesty when I first started taking the coaching courses I had never heard of the progressive method; simple to complex.  It was a revelation to me, because the coaches I had worked for and played under had never used it.

Coaching education by experience is spotty, and very random.  It really depends on who the coaches are that you had the opportunity working with and observing.  Hopefully in a person’s career they have the opportunity to work with some very quality coaches, but some may not.

Coaching education like the NSCAA and USSF courses give us a consistent standard of information that is communicated about the game.  Does an “A” License coach or a Premier Diploma GUARANTEE that you are qualified to coach at a high level and are capable of teaching the game; no.  BUT it does mean you have a resource of information and the association or club that highers this coach can be confident that they have been exposed to a minimum of information related to the game.  And that this person has been evaluated on several different occasions by some of the better coaches in our country.

The problem is when you come upon a coach who is quality because of their personal experiences but has not been fortunate enough to pursue the licensing available.  Whether because of finances (our licensing structure is VERY expensive at the residential level), or because of location (some states and areas of the country just don’t have the resources or the staff to offer courses) this person may not have the mandated diplomas or licenses.  And unfortunately this person would probably be denied opportunities even though they are a great coach.  Hopefully hiring processes and references will allow this person to be noticed, but it can’t be guaranteed.

To me it is the same as our educational process in careers.  Does a bachelors degree in education guarantee that my teachers were of the highest quality and would be excellent in teaching?  No, but at least we know that our teachers have a base of knowledge to draw from and have passed certain standards laid out.  Education is important, and hopefully this process of learning also continues and we keep growing as professionals.

So are we better off as a sport because our mandated coaching education?  I think so.  Personally I’ve loved the opportunity to learn from other coaches that I would never have the opportunity to meet any other way, and I’m not just talking about the instructors.  There are candidates that I’ve been blessed to get to know because we were taking a license together.  It’s a great process, and something that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in my development as a coach.  It is something I’m so passionate about that I have joined the ranks of instructing coaching courses to try and be that resources of development for others.

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