12. ICCE Global Coach Conference, Tokyo, Japan, 30 October - 01 November 2019
HOW DOES A NEEDS FOCUSED LEARNING COMMUNITY PROGRAM AFFECT COACHES’ KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICES?
Effective coaches need to consistently improve their athletes’ competence, confidence, connection, and character (the 4 Cs). That requires coaches to continuously benefit from relevant scientific information. However, the transfer of relevant sports science information into coaching practices has been a vexing problem in many coaching cultures. Formal learning opportunities fall short in meeting coaches' context-specific needs. They usually have the false assumption that coaches have an adequate conceptual understanding of translating the scientific information provided in their situation. Coaches value informal ways of learning more, by which they can reach needed information, understand, and translate into their situation. The potential of the Learning Community Approach has been evidenced in recent coaching literature to effectively bridge that knowledge gap. However, previous informal small-scale coach education programs usually were not directly built upon coaches’ direct contextual needs. More importantly, there is a need to clearly define the specific pathways of coaches’ knowledge internalization process. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a needs assessment-based learning community program (LCP) on coaches’ perceived knowledge and practices. Six coaches from a competitive youth artistic gymnastics setting participated in the study. In defining coaches' professional needs, forty-five gymnasts and their coaches from nine teams completed the adapted and validated form of a proposed measurement toolkit that aims to measure youth athletes’ 4 Cs. The content of the LCP was developed based on the 4 Cs framework and the identified needs in each outcome. A five-stage knowledge internalization strategy was developed for the coaches to effectively translate relevant scientific information. A video-recorded and fully transcribed text of a six-week LCP, interviews with the facilitator and a visiting sports psychologist, a focus group interview with the coaches, and researcher field notes were qualitative data sources analyzed through thematic analysis. The coaches perceived that LCP provided an excellent environment for their reach and comprehension of relevant scientific information. Furthermore, they became able to conceptually define and communicate their professional needs with experts (e.g., sports psychologist), and, reportedly, started to improve some of their coaching practices accordingly. The study has critical implications for developing effective complementary coach education programs to facilitate coaches' professional development in different coaching cultures.
Keywords: Coach education, professional development, a learning community approach, athletes’ outcomes, knowledge transfer, youth sport