On Coaching and Teaching Courses

Last week we tried to hold the first meeting of the latest edition of the USAW Coaching Committee in order to elect officers and set up a long term agenda.  Unfortunately we could not get a quorum so those of us present discussed some pertinent topics.  Present were Travis Cooper, J.P. Nicoletta (from the National Office), Phil Andrews and myself. 

One of the topics was coaching instructor selection. 

This is an intriguing topic as it has never really been addressed before.

Our current situation is that we select the instructors for the Level 1 and 2 courses from the ranks of National, International and Senior International coaches who volunteer to instruct.  This works adequately for the most part, but there are problems that could be addressed before they become more troublesome and other items that could be carried out more effectively. 

First off we make the very American error of believing that a capable practitioner is also capable of teaching his/her craft.  A coach who has achieved National level coaching status has demonstrated some competency in teaching the lifts and managing the development of an athlete up to a national level.  While the coach in question may have mastered the skills and content necessary to meet the requirements, there is no guarantee that this person could teach others to do the same. 

I’ve long believed that any time you design a system for qualifying individuals, you need to determine what is the least that can be done while still meeting the minimum standards.  If we determine the competency of that worst individual, is it satisfactory for the tasks being demanded?  As an example, I was a school teacher for forty years and regularly encountered individuals who had met the minimal standards by law but were far from being considered competent as instructors. 

As USAW moves ahead and the membership grows, there will undoubtedly be growth in the number of courses offered, and if they are to be considered a viable product, the quality of the instructors will have to be addressed. 

The most obvious solution is to require course attendance by the instructors to insure that they are aware of the teaching requirements and what are the best practices for achieving them.  This could be done online and/or with some instructional materials. 

Keep in mind that we are bringing this issue up with the idea of improving our product and not as a criticism of any current instructors in the program.