Too many youth coaches are teetering on the edge of the “10,000 hours’ training” trap – and it risks killing our game. We’re in danger of spending too much time “practising” rugby and not enough time playing. MORE
Since rugby coaching assessors can never see the whole picture, what’s the point of being assessed? Is it just so you can receive a badge which means you are deemed safe to coach at a certain level? Well, that’s possibly the real reason why we do coaching qualifications.
The National Governing Bodies have a tough task. It’s easy to find fault with their approach to developing the next generation of coaches, but they are immediately hamstrung by three crucial maladies. And, I’m not sure if we are able to cure them.
First, most obviously, they lack the resources to provide the sort of service we want. The specious argument is often levelled at the pro-game that more funds generated from international gates could be syphoned off into the grassroots coaching. Unfortunately, we must separate the showground from the training ground. One is a profit centre and the other is cost centre. The cost centre must be grateful for the crumbs. That argument is for another day.
Second, since most volunteer coaches have full-time lives, they don’t have much spare time for coach development. A job, family and team eats up more than enough of one life. While most of us would love to do more, we simply can’t fit it in. So, when a club puts on a high-profile coaching evening, you will find as many disappointed absentees as you will grateful attendees.
Third, the assessment force is under-prepared for the tasks. That’s not a low blow to a great group of people. It’s a combination of the two problems above. These assessors would, ideally, be full-time, with constant assessment of their own roles. There are many fine assessors out there, just not enough of them, or enough of them at the right level.
When a coach is assessed, it’s a snapshot of a dynamic coaching journey. If the coach is assessed coaching a bunch of other coaches they’ve only met recently, what are you seeing? Certainly not a coach who’s subtly building momentum with a group whose strengths and weaknesses they’ve considered over a period of time.
Even if the coach is in their own environment, like on a level 3 assessment, it would take the assessor three or four sessions to gather a sense of how the coach is creating an environment for change. But, we are talking Level 3 assessments now.
How about Level 1 and 2? Is it worth being assessed at all? The answer is yes. Yet, not for coaching rugby. It has to be to check that health and safety procedures are being carried out. You can’t assess learning.
Unless an assessor can watch a coach over several weeks, we have to rethink what an assessor is aiming to achieve.