Response: We had 98 Beginner Community Coaches reply and the results were very informative. We used a 1-4 Likert scale where the middle point or “no opinion” was avoided. Therefore, respondents needed to give some thought or carefully consider their response as to: “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree” or “strongly disagree”.
Setting the Stage: The survey was distributed to people within the Parkland Valley SCR District boundaries. An equal number of females and males completed the survey (51% female, 49% male). Most of the respondents (68%) were in the 30-49-year-old age group, born in Canada (96%), university educated (60%) or with a post-secondary diploma (31%) with an income of greater than $75,000 per year (46%) or between $50,000 and $74,999 (33%).
1. Overwhelmingly, 97% agreed/strongly agreed that they would consider coaching if they knew about a coaching shortage or if they were asked by their sports organization to coach when they/their children first joined a sport. They also felt 60% agree/strongly agree that if they volunteer as a coach, the expectation is that they continue to commit long-term to coaching. 79% agreed/strongly agreed that time commitment affects their desire to continue coaching.
Recommendation: To personally ask people to coach, let them know about any coaching shortages, and give them clear guidelines as to time commitment and the importance of coaches in the long-term sustainability of the sport.
2. We realize that often people are thrust into the role of coach without having a clear idea of what their roles and responsibilities are. We have theorized that having clear volunteer job descriptions is important in the recruitment of volunteers and that this also needs to be applied to coaching roles as well. This came out strongly in our research. 93% agree/strongly agree that if they were given a clear description of coaching roles and responsibilities that they would more likely consider coaching.
Recommendation: Written job descriptions of coaching roles and responsibilities including time commitments, training required, etc. and provide it to people up front.
3. 93% agree/strongly agree people need to have more skill development and knowledge of their sport to volunteer their time coaching. 91% agree/strongly agree more mentor ship from an experienced coach when they are starting out coaching. They agreed/strongly agreed (61%) that limited knowledge of sport affects their decision to continue coaching.
Recommendation: Training options such as Fundamental Movement Skills and mentor ship for beginning coaches would provide support to new coaches.
4. People were asked if they had a better understanding of children’s development stages, they would consider coaching, 61% disagreed/strongly disagreed. Community coaching involves the interaction of adults and children, and the interaction of children with each other. Research shows that understanding children’s development stages is crucial to build good sports programs focusing on skill development/mastery, fun, making friends and ensuring a long-term love of a sport through participation. High Five’s Principles of Healthy Child Development teaches these important relationship skills for recreation and sport coach volunteers.
Recommendation: More sharing of educational sessions locally available to coaches about children’s development to nurture successful sporting programs where children are having fun and feel they are successful (High Five’s Principles of Healthy Child Development). This, in turn, would help keep them participating in the sport.
5. Not surprisingly, 75% agreed/strongly agreed that interpersonal concerns between the coach and the parents or sport executive affect the coaches’ decision to continue coaching. When asked if the challenges of dealing with children’s behaviour, or lack of respect, limits the willingness to coach, it was 50/50.
Recommendation: Inform sport executives, parents and children about respect and conflict resolution. If difficult situations arise, proper conflict resolution is key to the success of dealing with problems and moving forward in a positive environment. Written communication of the roles and responsibilities of parents and clear expectations of children’s behaviour at the beginning of the sporting season might also alleviate problems. Development of policies by the sports executives and adhering to policies give clear consistent expectations for all involved.
6. We were very happy to see that 87% agree/strongly agreed that their decision-making as coaches were supported by their sport’s executive. People felt 50/50 that if they were given more management and decision-making privileges that they would continue to coach. They also disagreed/strongly disagreed (70%) that they needed to be formally recognized or awarded for their coaching achievements and successes in order to continue coaching.
Recommendation: Coaches are feeling supported by their sport executive and about half the respondents don’t necessarily want more management duties as the coach. Some, however, do want to be included in management and decision-making so give the coaches that choice. Obviously, formal recognition or awards is not a motivating factor as to why people coach, but successful sports clubs acknowledge, recognize and reward their coaches time and commitment (Australian Sports Commission, 2014).
Conclusion: Volunteers are the backbone of community sport. Without coaches to guide and foster sport development, many of our children would not have the opportunity to participate. It is our hope that implementing the recommendations in this report will help to recruit and retain coaches in the future.