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In partnership with Player
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In partnership with Player
Development
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Growing Coaches

Coach education is crucial to ensuring better environments for young people in sport. In this article, we examine the Growing Coaches programme being implemented in secondary schools to help young coaches improve their leadership.

Growing Coaches is a leadership programme that provides a platform for the development of young coaches in secondary schools. They can utilise the skills learned to coach sport in club, primary, intermediate and secondary school settings.

Secondary schools have considerable pressure to provide coaches for a raft of teams over a significant number of sports. This is exciting, as it indicates that there are a large number of young people playing sport. However, it is also a challenge for schools to source and retain enough coaches for the increasing number of students who wish to be involved. There are considerable benefits of encouraging young people in schools to contribute through accepting the coaching role.

The Philosophy of Growing Coaches is Based On:

  • The belief that coaching experiences can enhance the leadership development of young people and therefore the opportunity to be a coach should not be limited to a selected few.
  • An understanding that coaching includes both the learning about coaching and the opportunity to put the learning into practice in a sport context.
  • The belief that through coaching experiences young people will develop skills that can transfer into life skills.
  • An understanding that coach leadership is essentially an act of service to others.

Growing Coaches Case Study

Sue Lusty is the Project Lead and Coach Developer for the Harbour Sport Coach Support Initiative (CSI). Harbour Sport and the CSI team are passionate about ensuring all young people have the opportunity to participate in sport and recreation within a climate where everyone matters. 

CSI is a KiwiSport funded programme which initially set out to provide high schools and sports clubs with various coach development, recruitment and retention skills and resources. The focus is centred on a player-first philosophy where coaches are encouraged to establish an environment that engages more Kiwi kids in physical activity.  Each participant is recognised for their effort, feels valued and is developed equally. As a result of the Harbour Sport initiative, more players and coaches are retained year to year. Furthermore, players are enjoying participating in sports more and coaches feel greater confidence and competence thanks to the support of the CSI team.

Over the duration of the initiative, Sue proposed a “Student Coach” focus for the programme, where her team began “coaching students to coach students”. Consequently, secondary school students are teaching intermediate and primary-aged kids.

Sue expanded the programme to encourage the growth of coaches within schools (and for the future), along with increasing participation and enjoyment in youth sport overall. Students are provided with a practical learning environment to build quality leadership capabilities, along with experiencing hands-on coaching. Critical thinking and application also provide students with an understanding of how the leadership qualities demonstrated in coaching can be transferable to other aspects of life.
It is widely recognised that sport can offer a range of benefits for young people – encompassing physical, social, emotional, and mental realms. Despite this, research suggests that attrition rates for youth participating in sport are high. Harbour Sport identifies coaches as being a vital component of a child’s sporting experience and personal development beyond sport.

The Harbour region schools’ response to the Student Coach programme has been extremely positive. Student coaches are enthusiastic, energetic, eager to learn and provide excellent role models for younger students to look up to. It has also been acknowledged that becoming a coach has a very positive impact on the students in terms of their own personal development, confidence, sense of value and leadership.

The response from primary school children and their parents has also been extremely positive. Children are enjoying sport more, they try harder, have a better appreciation of “team” and many look forward to becoming coaches themselves. This effectively aligns with Harbour Sport’s driver for sustainability. A spin-off effect of the programme is that the students coaches themselves are enjoying their own sports more.

The impact of the programme is best illustrated through the feedback from some Sports Directors from participating schools.

“Student coaches are an integral part of the Westlake sporting programme.”

“The program provides us with the depth of coaching resources to ensure we can offer sustainable programmes across all of our school sporting codes.”

“The students have felt an increased sense of pride and feel valued and supported in their voluntary role.”

“Our younger students are inspired to perform for their role models…”

“The impact of having the CSI programme at Long Bay College has been really positive. The students have gained valuable confidence and motivation to get involved in coaching in our community.”

And Sue’s personal favourite –

“A mentor is a person who you can turn to for advice and encouragement, and this is exactly what our student coaches at Glenfield College become when given the responsibility to coach. They break down barriers within the college and create positive relationships with the Junior/Senior School.”

Image Credit: Waka Ama New Zealand

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