Edition number 13; dateline 5 December 2008

The other side of coaching

I need all the relaxation the Tub can give me this month as I have just completed a UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC) Level 1 Award in Triathlon. It was only three days but it packed a lot in and kept me, the other candidates and the tutors on our toes. Tales from a Tub doesn’t really do linked articles, ‘a series on’ etc; however, brace yourself as I may return to my experiences with the new coaching system a few times over the next year as I work my way through a variety of education and assessment experiences – all in the name of science!

Well actually, I’m not returning to the beginning of my coaching career purely for research reasons. I must have taken a knock to the head as I have had the outrageous idea of setting up a triathlon club on my local patch. There isn’t one in the north east corner of Derbyshire but in order to set a club up I feel strongly that it will need a qualified coach and hen’s teeth are more common than triathlon coaches around here.

But this is also a ‘Back to the Shop Floor’ experience for me and I can tell you it has been good for me from many perspectives. It must be 25 years since I did my first coaching award and, although it is never easy returning to the beginning of something, once I’d booked on I really began to relish the prospect of learning the new ways, refreshing what I already did and spending some more time on a sport which is relatively new to me.

Before even starting the actual coach education bit, I went through what most prospective coaches do, assessing what it would involve and how much would it cost. Courses to become a Level 1 coach – AKA leader, assistant coach or whatever else your national governing body (NGB) calls the starter coaching level – had been until relatively recently approximately £25-£75 for most NGBs. This was expensive enough for the beginner who was probably being coerced on to the course or for a student collecting certificates but it was a reasonable amount that was rarely a show-stopper. So what was I going to have to pay in the brave new world of the UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC)? I must admit it made me choke a little when I discovered that it would cost me £300 just to become an assistant coach, qualified only to work under the supervision of a higher-level coach. It will cost me a further £470 to do my Level 2, meaning a grand total of £770 for me to pay out of my own pocket to set up a voluntary local sports club. If I then add in the hours it is likely to take me to achieve these two awards – attending the face-to-face courses, eight assessments, completion of a log book, time spent reading resources and revising for written papers and delivery of coaching sessions outside of the course – I will have committed approximately 98 hours, the equivalent of thirteen days. Even if you work this out at minimum wage levels it is around £562 and you can imagine what it would cost if I worked it out at my normal day rate.

Once I had calmed the choking with a large slug of red grape juice, I then put my ‘professional’ head on again as I have been and continue to be a great advocate of good-quality training. In order to get quality coaches we need quality coach education and support for learners. This means time and money needs to be invested in developing the coach education programmes, the resources and the workforce who deliver that training and support. And this all costs money because the people involved have invested a lot of time and money in their own training and development, and this warrants remuneration at a reasonable level. If we are going to be the “world leading nation for coaching by 2016” – and Pat Duffy and the UK Coaching Framework say we will – we need this quality. However, I feel that more work needs to be done to ensure that our voluntary coaches are supported financially and in other ways (and I do know that some NGBs and other organisations do this) through the coach education programmes we are now, quite rightly, demanding of them.

But back to my Level 1 coach education experience, and here you must bear in mind that I am one of Sportscoach UK’s National Trainers, which means I work with NGB tutors and assessors to develop their skills and gain accreditation. What was I feeling on Day One? I was apprehensive. I certainly felt excited to be starting on this journey. I was really looking forward to spending time with fellow multi-sport ‘geeks’ so that I could talk to them without their eyes glazing over with boredom or widening with fear at the prospect that I might persuade them to take up some unreasonable amount of exercise. And I was feeling intrigued as to how the training worked from ‘the other side’. I didn’t own up to my coaching background to my fellow travellers as I didn’t want to put additional pressure on myself during the experience; there was already enough to worry about and I was already putting pressure on myself as I knew what the system was about to demand of me.

And you are now framing the question asked by so very many coach educators in so very many sports – all of whom have been trained in the UKCC way – as their charges finish a micro coaching session: “How did that go then?” It went very well, thank you. I knew my tutor (I’d trained him), I learned new things, I confirmed that I hadn’t forgotten everything from my past and reassured myself that coaching development hasn’t moved too far away from where it had been before I took my extended sabbatical away from grass-roots delivery. And I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And I passed.

I fully intend to continue with Project Tibshelf Tri-Club, which means I need to return to the world of coach education as a recipient. So I will save my pennies, identify some diary time to complete the study required and see where and when I can access the formal training. And I’ll take some notes and keep you posted on how I get on.


Kay Adkins is an executive board member of a county sport partnership, chair of a CSN and a member of the interim board of the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure. Kay is also managing director of KAM Ltd, which offers a range of support services in the sport and leisure industry working in volunteer/workforce development and facility development.



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Kay Adkins, hot tub correspondent
Kay Adkins, hot tub correspondent

“It must be 25 years since I did my first coaching award and, although it is never easy returning to the beginning of something, once I’d booked on I really began to relish the prospect of learning the new ways, refreshing what I already did and spending some more time on a sport which is relatively new to me.”

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