An Expert Coach

There are many coaches that are considered to be experts, but what makes them have this title? Is it based on success and experiences or is it simply down to their knowledge and understanding of a particular sport.

In my personal opinion on what an expert coach is and its relation to football, I think that this person would be someone who could get the best out of any team and be able to adapt to different styles of athletes and play effectively. As well as this, I would say that to be an expert you must have a desire to win or develop. An example would be Pep Guardiola, taking a manager role at West Brom or Fulham, who have different objectives to what he is used to, and then him being able to be effective and win games with them. A model that looks at the difference between beginner and elite coaches, shows the extra skills in which are needed in the coaches toolkit. Some of these are transferable skills throughout different professions such as problem solving or planning efficiency. Where as those who are more successful have great levels of knowledge around the area as well as having the ability to think on the spot and change tactics accordingly (Schempp et al., 2006). Coaches are also required to have certain qualifications, with most elite professional football clubs wanting UEFA Pro or A licenses to work for their higher aged teams and UEFA B minimum for foundation teams. However, they can cost large amounts of money which questions is it the best coaches that make the professional game or is it the ones who can afford that qualification?

Due to the increased commercialisation of sport and how results based it has become, there is a greater expectation that coaches or managers can come into a new environment and have an immediate effect. This has meant that the expert coaches have had to add a degree of ‘cutting edge’ to their list of credentials. The term relates to having the ability to be straight up with athletes and then their ability to direct them with give good and relevant advice (Mallet, 2010). However, a coach must surround themselves with other staff and colleagues who will challenge them rather than having lots of ‘yes people’ around. For example Sir Alex Ferguson, would have surrounded himself with people that would have questioned his decisions and offered alternative suggestions, rather than people that just agree with him. The coaches as a team, would continue to make the same mistakes if this was the case. This intern would have made him a better coach as he was able to continuously develop his knowledge by learning from the mistakes he or his team made and then being able to reflect on this, in order to get better. (Nash et al., 2012).

Despite this, not all expert coaches have to work at the highest level. Some coaches could be just as experienced and qualified, but they may prefer working at the foundation, youth stage or even grassroots within sports. The term ‘expert’ could be considered to be them passing on the correct knowledge to the younger athletes and them going onto be successful. In some sense, coaches that run sport sessions for toddlers, should be considered to be experts, as they are experienced in coaching that age group. Those children may be taught skills at that age that twenty years down the line have given them a professional sporting career.

Overall, I feel that the three key components that make up an expert coach, are a blend of knowledge and experiences as well as people skills or in some sports it would be classed as ‘person management.’ I think knowledge and experiences go hand in hand to work on decision making, which is what I believe, defines an expert coach. A study that focused on a surgeon, stated that they could have been taught everything they need to know about the profession, but it is in their hands, when it comes to the decisions they make during an operation (Ericsson, 2007). This is then a transferable skill as decision making is ultimately what defines success and therefore allows coaches to be considered as an ‘expert.’

Reference List

Ericsson, K.A., Prietula, M.J. and Cokely, E.T., 2007. The making of an expert. Harvard business review85(7/8), p.114.

Mallett, C.J., 2010. Becoming a high-performance coach: Pathways and communities. Sports coaching: Professionalisation and practice, pp.119-134.

Nash, C., Martindale, R., Collins, D., & Martindale, A. (2012). Parameterising expertise in coaching: Past present and future. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30(10), 985-994. 

Schempp, P.G., McCullick, B.A., Busch, C.A., Webster, C. and Mason, I.S., 2006. The self-monitoring of expert sport instructors. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching1(1), pp.25-35.

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