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Leeds academics helping to produce next generation of sport coaches

Leeds Beckett University’s work to produce the next generation of sport coaches has been hailed as a blueprint for the rest of Europe to follow.

ICCE Croatia

Academics from the university’s renowned Carnegie School of Sport showcased their innovative work at a gathering of leading coaching practitioners and experts in Split, Croatia.

The education and development of coaches has been identified as a priority by the European Commission’s (EC) Human Resources Development in Sport Expert Group, which convened on the Adriatic coast for two days of presentations and debate.

The group, made up of representatives from 28 European countries, has been established as part of a Europe-wide drive to create new education and development opportunities for sport coaches and highlight the vital role coaches have to play in sport and also wider society.

Leeds Beckett’s Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial and Dr Ladislav Petrovic attended the event, with Sergio delivering a keynote address to delegates.

He explained the main principles underpinning the university’s BSc (Hons) Sport Coaching degree, which has been shaped by input from leading national and international governing bodies to produce confident and professional coaches working across all sports and at all levels.

He also showcased the iCoachKids project, which offers a free online learning platform for children and youth coaches. Led by Leeds Beckett and the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE), the project aims to develop a European network of specialist children and youth coaches. Co-funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme, it also aims to ensure youngsters taking part in sport have a positive experience, leading to a lifelong involvement in sport and healthier lives.

In the debate that followed the address, the work of Leeds Beckett and the ICCE was praised by delegates, with a recommendation that the programmes be identified as models of best practice in coach development and a reference point for the work of the EC’s sport expert group going forward.

Sergio said: “It’s all about helping coaches understand who they coach, what they coach and how they are going to coach it. In simple terms, knowing your participants’ needs, what you expect them to learn and the teaching strategies you are going to use to maximise learning.”

Whereas coach education had previously focused predominantly on those working in high-performance sport, Ladislav said more coaches were now working at a grassroots level and with participants pursuing personal development and wellbeing goals more than medals.

He said: “We have to accept that the role of the coach has broadened in 21st-century society. Coach education has to adapt to this new picture and prepare coaches for this variety of roles.”

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