Coach education is seen as a vehicle to drive the standards of coaching practice up. Typically, a level 1 qualification would be the first rung on the coaching 'ladder' with you reaching the top of the ladder at level 4. There are some variations to this process and I do not intend to unpick these, but rather, discuss the issues that affect individuals as they climb this ladder. These issues could include physical, knowledge, skill, social, pedagogical, financial or experiential incompetencies (not exhaustive) that exclude the individual from meeting the demands of the programme assessment. Experience, though, is one I wish to pay particular attention to. Normally, when talking to a coach and you ask why they coach, they may say that it is because they had a fantastic experience of the game or they played to a high standard and want to put something back into the game, alternatively, it could be because they had a great coach who influenced them to become a coach themselves. Whatever their reason, experience of what it is you want to coach is normally vital in order to coach others to perform. But at what stage does limited (or, say, professional) experience become overbearing for effective coaching to take place? Put simply, limited experience may stop the coach from being able to contextualise the range of technical, tactical, psychological or social aspects of the game for the performers. On the other hand, professional experience may prevent the coach from understanding how an individual can make mistakes. But should these two dichotomous groups be separated? Is there not scope for trainee coaches to traverse boundaries? In other words, could an experientially limited individual - over time - develop the knowledge and skills in order to coach in an elite domain? Equally, could a professional coach not develop the pedagogical knowledge and skills over time in order to coach in a domain that is for novices? Therefore, should it not be the purpose of coach education to develop effective coaches and provide them with the knowledge and understanding of key coaching knowledge and skills in order to meet the needs of the individuals they coach at various stages of development? This perspective would align with research that argues excellent coaches are separated from average coaches as they can apply knowledge and skills better than those who just harbour that knowledge (Smith and Cushion, 2006).
The more I think and analyse coach education the more I believe that it needs to be opened up to enable progression for individuals rather than pigeon hole them based on pre-determined conceptualisation of their coaching 'ability'. This includes ex-professionals and non-professionals. Coach education should enable them to become effective coaches, not reproducers of a course syllabus.
If you are interested...
Smith, M. and Cushion, C. "An investigation of the in-game behaviours of professional, top-level youth soccer coaches" Journal of Sports Sciences (24) 4:355-366.