Meet Your New Assistant Coach!

One of the most significant developments within sport over the past three decades is the ever increasing implementation of technology. Technology not only comes in all shapes and sizes but also effects an incredibly diverse number of aspects within sport. In terms of elite competition, technology is now well established within football (goal line), tennis (hawk-eye), basketball (reply vision), cricket (decision referral system) and rugby league (video referee) to name just a few. The use of technology is not only restricted to in-game competitions and it is perhaps out on the training arenas where technology has had the most influence in advancing sporting standards. The majority of athletes at all playing levels now utilises technology in some way be it through food and activity diaries for nutritional purposes or heart rate monitors, G.P.S tracking (global positioning system) or light gates for fitness and performance testing.

One area in particular which could be drastically enhanced by the introduction of technology is coaching. During an interview with a world champion coach, Sir Clive Woodward, the idea of coaches aspiring to become a ‘positive deviant’ was discuss. It is considered that in order to improve current coaching practice, the sport requires coaches to embrace innovative ideas and creative methods. The importance of evolving the current coach education system is simple – in order to develop elite players; elite coaches must first be developed.

Introducing technology in coaching is one possible innovative technique which could be embraced by coaches seeking to break from tradition in pursuit of becoming a ‘positive deviant’.

For coaches to be successful in having a positive influence on the development of their athletes, communication is vital. Research shows that coaches focus primarily on technical aspects of training sessions or games, creating complex and demanding drills, yet give little consideration to the most effective coaching method.

Communication is defined as imparting or exchanging information, feelings or ideas and is a fundamental element within the coaching process. Communication can be separated into two aspects, demonstration and verbal instruction, with research indicating that both are important elements in the production of elite players. A study conducted in 2012, exploring athletes’ experiences of poor coaching, identified that lower quality coaches were ineffective teachers and lacked the ability to explain their ideas effectively or provide useful instruction.

Furthermore, research within education has endeavoured to determine the potential impact introducing technology has on the learning process within schools. Leading experts have expressed the need to modernise the education system. However, unlike coaching, studies suggest that teachers focus on the method of communicating information to students and not solely on the information itself.

The similarities between teaching and coaching are evident; the methods in which they both impart their content, determine the significance of the impact of their message. It can be argued that teachers and coaches alike, must recognise the interactive and modern society in which children are now raised, rendering traditional methods of teaching / coaching out-dated and non-relatable. To effectively develop and enhance athlete development, the coaching process must evolve and embrace technology.

By implementing new coaching software such as CoachCam, coaches are able to transform the way they communicate and interact with their athletes. Whether delivering implicit feedback one to one, or explaining game plans to a team as a whole, video software makes the old fashioned white board a thing of the past. With the advancements in software and hand held technology, the myth that utilising such methods is slow and cumbersome is dismissed. Think of technology as another member of coaching staff which not only eases your workload but provides you with essential additional information, allowing you to perform more effectively as a coach.

Recordings can be made within seconds during training or a match and shown straight back to the athletes providing a combination of both demonstrations and verbal communication. Similar to Monday Night Football or Match of the Day, the videos created can be edited in a number of different ways, by both coaches and players alike, allowing for self-discovery and discussion. It is for all these reason that technology can help coaches become the desired ‘positive deviant’ within their profession and seek to push boundaries and traditions in pursuit of novel and enhanced results.

Cameron Campbell


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