Eagle eye – the role of the coach
Coaching plays a significant role within the realm of talent identification. In fact, it has been suggested that key issues within the talent identification stage include having “many highly-qualified and well-educated coaches,” and a “guarantee that these highly-qualified and well-educated coaches work with beginners and not just high-level athletes.”
The keen eye of a qualified coach, observing young athletes during both training as well as in competition, is the true initial phase of identification - subsequent testing and medical assessment serves as little more than a reinforcement of the facts.
The best coaches, including strength and conditioning professionals, often clamour to work exclusively with the more elite athletes within a system leaving the young athletes with inadequately trained coaches or volunteers. This results in a list of negatives:
•Political posturing for the best young athletes in order to ‘win’ rather than creating a development process that equally benefits and directs all youngsters
•Overuse and acute injury due to early sport specialisation and inadequate conditioning means (in lieu of properly designed, developmentally-based training stimulus)
•Emotional burnout due to increased pressure and mandates to ‘win’
•An alienation of the less talented young athletes, possibly leading to a cessation of physical training altogether and, therefore, dangerous ramifications in the lifelong health of those youngsters
We have our best coaches working, often exclusively, with the top calibre athletes within the system. The phase or stage with the largest talent pool and most sensitive needs is left to volunteer coaches and parents with little to no education in the appropriate sport sciences.
Until we address this issue properly and get more of the right coaches on board at the right stage in the process, we are ruining talent and with that the promises of a high proportion of the premiere athletes and sportsmen and women of tomorrow. Without the right backing, they don’t really have a chance.