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Quality Sport Coaching: The Role of the National Standards for Sport Coaches

Lori Gano-Overway

Strategies Cover November December 2020

Sports are a popular activity within the United States. It is estimated that 69% of all youth (6–12) participate at least one day in an individual or team youth sport program (Aspen Institute, 2018). Further, approximately 8 million student-athletes participate in high school sports (National Federation of State High School Associations, 2018) and another 460,000 student-athletes compete within National Collegiate Athletic Association sports (2019). Given the large number of sport participants and the broad appeal of sports, there is an opportunity within sport to have a positive impact on the development and well-being of millions of people within the United States.

The sport coach plays an integral role in this development. In fact, the sport coach can determine whether an athlete’s sport experience sets the stage for continued physical activity participation as well as physical and psychological development (Bergeron et al., 2015; Gould et al., 2014; Holt, 2016). For example, researchers have found that when coaches participate in targeted educational interventions they have improved coaching skills and efficacy (e.g., Malete & Feltz, 2000; Newin et  al., 2008; Sullivan & Gee, 2008) and their athletes have more positive psychological outcomes (e.g., Duda et  al., 2018; Smith et  al., 2007) as well as a stronger commitment to the sport (e.g., Barnett et al., 1992) compared to untrained coaches. Therefore, it is evident that athletes, at all levels, would benefit from being coached by trained professionals. As such, coach educators and coach developers encourage coaches to seek out formal (e.g., courses, degree programs) and informal (e.g., reading, conversations with experts) opportunities to improve their coaching practice.

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