How Do Coaches Learn? (Infographic)

Hey there coaches!

Have you ever taken the time to consider how you like to learn? Or how you learn best? Or how else you can (and should) learn? Or how other coaches learn? Or have you not thought about any of this?

Doesn’t really matter – this post is for your regardless.

An interesting study was recently conducted by John Stoszkowski and Dave Collins, looking at the sources, topics, and use of knowledge by sport coaches. Stoszkowski and Collins drew responses from 320 coaches from around the world and across sport disciplines and levels in the hopes of better understanding how coaches learn.

Published in the Journal of Sports Sciences (2015) and distilled into a handy infographic by @YLMSportScience, the findings are as interesting as they are useful.

By John Stoszkowski & Dave Collins (Journal of Sport Sciences) / Designed by @YLMSportScience

The obvious point of note is how many coaches (93%) prefer informal learning to formal and nonformal learning, like coaching workshops and seminars. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – many coaches were once athletes themselves, a notoriously high energy group that often struggles focusing in a classroom setting.

But even within informal learning, peer discussion was significantly more popular (42%) than more traditional methods like books, online resources, or even watching other coaches. Other methods like academic journals, coach mentorship, and coaching practice are barely worth mentioning at all.

This finding is a little more surprising. I enjoy a healthy debate as much as the next coach, but these discussions seem to reinforce ideas as often as they introduce new teaching methods, communication styles, or approaches to skill development – the method and practice of teaching (pedagogy) coaches find most useful.

Aren’t watching other coaches, learning directly under a senior coach, or experimenting in your own practices a better set of self-teaching tools? One would think that these more involved strategies – often benefiting from direct and prompt feedback – have a more profound impact on coach development. But maybe that’s just me.

No matter – there are still two main (and valuable) takeaways:

  1. Coaches want to learn about how to be better teachers.
  2. Coaches want to learn through discussion with other coaches.

And so on that note… how would can the SNYB Blog better serve YOU as a coach?

Are you interested in posts on teaching styles, as the research suggests? Would you want to participate in a youth basketball coach forum or discussion board? Let us know in the comments below!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANick Boon is the Coordinator of Youth Development for Canada Basketball. Nick holds degrees in Physical Education & Health and Sport Business Management, and is a long-time and overly-obsessed basketball coach, player, and fan.

Photo: Runaway Digital Media

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