August 28 2008
For many young athletes, quality coaching can make all the difference when it comes to excelling in a sport. Members of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education's task force, including two professors from Indiana State University, understand that crucial role and are working to raise national awareness about the need for properly trained coaches.
"We're investing in our most valuable commodity, our young people," said Jolynn Kuhlman, associate professor of physical education at ISU.
Kuhlman and Kimberly J. Bodey, assistant professor of recreation and sport management at ISU, were members of the National Coaching Report Task Force. A 156-page document, the National Coaching Report highlights the need for educated coaches at both the youth and interscholastic sport levels.
More than 50 million young people under the age of 18 participate in organized sport programs. While interscholastic athletics are governed by state associations, many community-based sport organizations are run by volunteers.
"They just don't have the training to know the right things to do," Bodey said.
The report, published by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education in partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations, provides current information about sport organizations throughout the country.
Designed as a reference guide, the report is divided into interscholastic sport and youth sport sections. Each section contains state and organization profiles which include coaching education requirements, content and modes of training, time frame, recertification and currency requirements and adjustments, legislative issues and incentives to complete training.
"It allows various sport organizations to look at what they're doing and compare that to what others are doing," Kuhlman said.
After researching interscholastic sport programs, the task force concluded that states differ considerably in their coaching education requirements. While many states do require coaching education, most allow exceptions to those requirements and few states require coaches to complete training prior to working with athletes. Coaching education requirements most often include training on the fundamentals of coaching, first aid, CPR and sport rules.
Based on the findings, the task force recommended that all interscholastic coaches be required to complete a coaching education program prior to working with athletes. In addition, the report emphasizes the need to promote communication between state activities associations and boards of education.
At the youth sport level, most training is geared toward entry-level coaches and coaches are not always required to complete training before working with athletes. However, background checks are becoming increasingly common.
The task force recommended requiring coaching education for all coaches, as well as development of recruitment and selection procedures to ensure that coaching positions are filled by "persons with high moral character and integrity."
Kuhlman pointed out that findings in the report are not meant to "point a finger at anyone," but rather foster communication and begin a movement toward meeting the needs highlighted in the report.
Bodey and Kuhlman both come from coaching backgrounds, but approach the topic of coaching education in different ways. Bodey studies policy and governance issues, while Kuhlman studies coaching and training techniques.
"We had two different people with a complimentary set of skills that came to same issue," Bodey said. "It's a great interdisciplinary collaboration."
Both professors plan to implement the report in their classes this semester and said it will serve as a resource for students throughout the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services.
"It benefits us personally and professionally, but it also benefits our students," Bodey said.
The other members of the task force were Jody Brylinsky and Tim Flannery. Brylinsky is a professor of sport studies at Western Michigan University, while Flannery serves as an assistant director for the National Federation of State High School Associations.
This is the first report, which will be updated every five years. The findings were presented at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 6 and the report has been made available to sport officials, state departments of education, legislators, and parents.
The task force members hope the information provided by the National Coaching Report will spark a national conversation and lead to positive change.
"It really just comes down to awareness," Bodey said. "Where are we? Where are our holes? How do we meet the needs?"
More information, including a full copy of the National Coaching Report, is available online at www.naspeinfo.org/coachingreport.
Contacts: Jolynn Kuhlman, associate professor of physical education, Indiana State University, 812-237-4047 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimberly J. Bodey, assistant professor of recreation and sport management, Indiana State University, 812-273-2186 or email@example.com
Writer: Emily Taylor, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, 812-273-3790 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Coaching Report has been published and task force members, including two Indiana State University professors, hope their research leads to positive change for young athletes.