Are the pro’s are taking over

What are the chances of non ex pro’s actually working at the top level?  Very slim I imagine. I recently read an article article where Chris Earle, the new head of FA education discussed Steven Gerrard being put through his UEFA A Licence without having to complete his Level 1,2 or UEFA B Licence as these courses are very ‘time consuming’ (minimum 120 hours). Fortunate for Steven the FA decided to look at what skills he already possesses as a coach and have been able to offer him a ‘personalised individual route’ to the top. Earle then goes on to claim well if he knows about the player and knows about the game then thats good enough, “its not fast tracking its personalised learning”. I can only wish I was offered a personalised learning opportunity.

Cooke (2007) states that while there may be some advantages (gaining respect of athletes) elite level success as an athlete is no guarantee of being a quality coach. As a coach looking to progress up to the elite level after reading the article I really started to question is it really worth it? I’m spending £27,000 at university, paying for coaching qualifications to better myself as a coach and just because these athlete’s have played the game they are being handed coaching roles on a plate. I would say as a coach I know my players and know the game so why am I not being offered the opportunity to have a personalised individual route rather than having to complete each qualification funded by myself or kindly by the club I work for all the way to the top, which even then won’t guarantee myself a job.

At the beginning of the 2013/2014 season in England and Wales, 90 head coaches of the 92 men’s national professional football league clubs and 20 of the 22 men’s professional rugby union clubs had tenure as a professional elite player in their respective sports (Mielke, 2007). Therefore, highlights the importance of fast tracking opportunities for former elite athletes who dominate head coaching roles in professional sports clubs. Rynne (2014) defined ‘fast-tracking as the special concessions offered to former elite athletes so that their progress through formal accreditation structures is expedited. Fast tracking are usually based upon the assumption that the skills and knowledge acquired as a professional elite athlete, via practically embodied and informal learning contexts, are essential for the successful fulfilment of the elite head coach role (Kelly, 2008). This is something that I find difficult to understand, it seems to me that NGB’s have an expectancy from ex professional’s that there playing experience will make them better equipped to succeed as a coach than a grassroots’ coach or student looking to fulfil a career in the elite game.

Relating back to the article a common complaint amongst former players is that FA Qualifications are too academic and that sitting in the classroom for tens of hours being taught about the game they have spent up to 20 years playing is boring for them. Surely they need more of an academic understanding based around coaching rather than relaying on their experiences as a professional, I imagine a high percentage of ex professionals left school at 16 and therefore, will have limited exposure to academic studies and understanding of what coaching really is. Earle then goes on to outline ‘my job is to prepare a breed of coaches at the top level who can stand up against any other foreign coaches’, I really wonder what we would be like as a country if every coach was offered the opportunity to a personalised learning journey and not just the ex professionals who it seems already possess the majority of coaching tools in their box.

As a young coach it is pretty demotivating when I am investing hundreds of hours and money into my learning when ex professional are being provided with opportunities at the top just because they have played the game. I wonder why 18 year olds who have just finished school don’t get fast tracked to being teachers just because they’ve been in school for 13 years.


Cooke, G. (2007) Many paths to coaching, Sports Coach, 29(4), 24􏰀25.

Kelly, S. (2008). Understanding the role of the football manager in Britain and Ireland: A Weberian approach. European. Sport Management Quarterly, 8, 399–419. doi:10.1080/16184740802461652

Mielke, D. (2007). Coaching experience, playing experience and coaching tenure. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 2, 105–108.

Rynne, S. (2014). ‘Fast track’ and ‘traditional path’ coaches: Affordances, agency and social capital. Sport, Education andSociety, 19, 299–313.





Chop and Change

After being posed the question of why, how or when did I last change my mind in regards to my coaching and being advised to visit the article  The question is still being unpicked in my brain a week later which I thought this blog post would provide me with a good opportunity to unravel some thoughts. At 19 I would still label myself as a baby, there is so much out there that I don’t know or won’t have even come across within coaching and for that I would like to think I’m a keen learner and extremely open minded which is why I think I am struggling to answer this question as I’m always chopping and change my thoughts and beliefs.

I believe being open minded is a trait needed within development, being willing to take on board new thoughts and ideas, listen to people whether they are providing information you are willing to take on board or even disregard, take pieces of information from different sources that you want to piece together as your own. Everybody is different and therefore, has different needs. What one coach might find valuable another may not which is why being keen to listen and learn is vital within the development process as a coach. So in terms of my development, when did I last change my mind as a coach? I could be here forever as my thoughts and beliefs are ever changing. The why is simple, I am a million miles away from becoming a so called ‘expert’ which outlines there is so much out there for me to learn and each time I learn something valuable to my coaching I will piece it together and adapt it to my own coaching which may involve changing my approach to coaching or why I do something.

When I first started out coaching and probably up until I began education at university I would of classed myself as a very one dimensional coach with little understanding of why I was doing what I was doing and just putting on session’s for the sake of it, sometimes attempting to wing it and being relieved it came off. So whats different now? As I have gained more qualifications and attended numerous coach education courses across a variety of sports I have developed the knowledge to begin to ask question’s, to myself and to my players. Before sessions, why am I doing this? what will the players get out of this? how will this effect them short/long term? is this beneficial for their development? never ending amount of questions. Questions to them during practice why did you do that? how did that feel and why? what do you think you could have done there? So what I am trying to say is that being a one dimensional coach in terms of always telling and there only being one way to do things I have now developed into a coach that ask’s questions to probe answers from the players, get them thinking about things and understanding why they are doing it and not just doing it because I said they have to.

So what does this tell me?

After beginning to reflect on sessions and understanding why I do things I have began to attempt to create more of a player centred environment, getting the players to think, make decisions and provide answers to solutions with very little input from myself within sessions. Maybe before when I used the coaching approach of telling players what to do I took away their identity and by coaching the group rather than individuals I created robots by doing so, I took away the opportunity for them to try things, make mistakes because what I wanted wasn’t what they were displaying to me. On reflection now would I go back to that approach? No, never again. I feel my coaching approach is now much more player centred I now coach people and understand each player has individual needs rather than coaching a group of players by telling them to do something. I now tend to use a lot more guided discovery, questioning, a game based approach to put players in situations where they have to be able to think, provide solutions, make decisions, socialise, this is where players stand out and create their own identity which I think I took away from them previously.

So the Why? – To provide a better opportunity for players to develop.
The how? – By changing my coaching approach to a more player centred approach.
And the when? – All the time. As I am always learning I am forever changing my thoughts and beliefs and will probably never stop doing so.

Listen, Learn and most of all enjoy doing so.