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The Debate: Should Coach's Be Certified Teachers

Updated on May 4, 2011

While most people will argue about the importance of sports in a child's life, one of the most important factors is, who is that child's coach. Coach's play a vital role in determining if a child enjoys a particular sport or if they will begin to dislike it. In this day and age there are thousands of coach's out there instructing kids on how to play sports, most of which are dads that are trying to encourage their child to follow in their footsteps. This article will discuss and describe why non-teachers should not be coaching our youth in high schools and why they are taking those coaching jobs from our teachers. Before I get started one thing I want to make clear, I think it's wonderful that a lot of dads devote their time to coaching their son or daughters little league teams. It requires a lot of time and patience to work with those little kids in the sports realm. The problem arises when they believe they have what it takes to coach in a high school setting.

Just Because You Played Doesn't Mean You Can Coach

Many people, especially those individuals who are NOT coach's, think that since they either played a particular sport in school or coached that sport in little league, they are experienced and certified to coach at the upper levels. They have more than likely been around that sport for many years, they know the strategies, the rules, and the basic concepts of the game. Typically these are the coach's that had a successful career playing that sport all the way through high school and then something happened to them, either an injury or circumstances out of their control, caused their collegiate career to come to an end. The thought process is, “well I was an excellent player in high school and could have played in college, so therefore, I can coach”. I have seen many of these types of coach's and although they do have a great understanding of the game and rules, it's the coaching skills where they lack. What do I mean? Coaching is very similar to teaching. It requires the knowledge of a skill and the ability to explain that skill from least to most complex. You can't simply tell a player to grab a bat, turn sideways, keep your eye on the ball, swing, and hit the ball. There are many more aspects to hitting a baseball/softball and these are the components those coach's are missing.

Winning is EVERYTHING!

When I asked a coach who was a non-teacher, “what's the biggest enjoyment you get out of coaching?” their replay was, “I still have that desire to win and I love the game”. Is that the answer you would want if you had a child playing for them? Is it all about winning? This concept has been debated over and over - winning isn't everything and kids should be allowed to have fun playing and not worry about winning. It's a very true concept, but unfortunately coach's that are not teachers do not like this statement. For example, if a coach coaches a particular sport but is not tied to the school as a teacher, then that particular coach doesn't care about anything but winning because the only thing they have to prove is their ability to win. In this day and age, coach's are not allowed to just coach their sport, they are required to be role models, parents, friends, etc. I don't want to say that they don't care about the kids at all, but think about it...if they did...wouldn't they have become educators? It's never been about the money for educators that point is very clear, it's always been about the kids!

Teachers See All

The other important factor a lot of people don't think about is a simple concept. Kids in high school claim to have lots of “drama” - things in their lives that cause them to lose focus. Most of the time teachers that are coach's witness this drama either by actually seeing it or hearing about it from the students peers. At this time a good teacher/coach will approach that player and see if there is anything they can do to help. In most cases, that issue is resolved in school before practice starts, and even if it's not, the coach has a jump on the issue and can understand any focus problems that player may have a practice with understanding. If it's a non-teacher coach, then they obviously have no idea what's going on nor do they care because it's time for practice and focus. Here are some quotes non-teacher coach's will make. “If a player is not focused then they must not care. Why would you play a sport that you're not good at?” These quotes are made because they simply don't understand students. There is a handful of students that play sports, not for the love of the game or because they are talented at it, but just to simply be a part of the team. Being a part of something were they are accepted gives them all the satisfaction they need. In most cases, they don't even care if they are good at the sport or not, it's the feeling of being accepted that's important to them. Non-teacher coach's usually do not understand this concept.

The Cost

Nine times out of ten, the reason why a player stops playing a certain sport is because they didn't like the coach. Parents have a tough time reasoning with their children about quitting because of the coach due to the fact that they don't want their child to be unhappy. The easiest thing to do is quit, but what is that demonstrating? If I don't like my boss, I can just quit? Most parents will agree that's not a concept we want to teach the youth of America. The question is why do they want to quit. The answer, in most cases, they feel the coach doesn't truly care about them. If the coach is a teacher, there is relationship between them that most likely was developed in the classroom. Due to that relationship players feel comfortable talking to the coach and resolving any differences they may have had. If it's a non-teacher that relationship never had a chance to develop and eventually ends.

There are many non-teacher coach's out there coaching at the high school levels that are doing an excellent job, that point needs to be stated. However, many of them are only coaching to win, prove that they can win, or possibly for a supplemental income. I understand that due to budget cuts in public schools, many of these coach's may be volunteers and schools can't afford to pay for experienced coach's. Once again, like in many of these articles, the kids are the ones who are going to pay. When will the local governments finally understand that money can't and shouldn't be an issue when it comes to their learning, well-being, and future.

Any comments on this debate are welcome!

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