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21 sep 2006

Coaches education: models – characteristics and views of greek tennis coaches

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Coaches education is one of the keys for the improvement of training process and for the achievement of best possible level of performance. As a result of rapid progress in sport in the last decades, the training and educational needs of coaches will continue to grow.

Autor(es): Nikolaos Grivas, Konstantinos Mantis
Entidades(es): 1University of Athens, Greece 2Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece
Congreso: IV Congreso Mundial de Ciencia y Deportes de Raqueta
Madrid-21-23 de Septiembre de 2006
ISBN: 84-611-2727-7
Palabras claves: Coaches education, greek tennis coaches, coaching programs

Abstract models – characteristics and views of greek tennis coaches

Coaches education is one of the keys for the improvement of training process and for the achievement of best possible level of performance. As a result of rapid progress in sport in the last decades, the training and educational needs of coaches will continue to grow. The coaches’ education programs must be thoroughly evaluated to take into account the findings of all areas of applied sport research, as well as the personal characteristics, backgrounds and opinions of coaches in the particular sport. Most modern coaching programs consist of three key areas: a) modules of study in sport science, b) the components related to the skills, techniques, and strategies of the sport and c) practical experience. The balance of these aspects and the relative importance placed on each depends on the particular needs of the sport and the level at which the coach operates (Campbell, 1993) Nowadays, many sport organizations develop different theories or sport-specific modules for coaches from different background (Haslam, 1990, Douge and Hastie, 1993). In coaching, in most cases, more emphasis should be placed on skill development, both physical and social, than the competition result. Because coaches play such a crucial role in the educational and motivational process, they should be encouraged to attend seminar and to gather the latest scientific knowledge by various ways, as the self-improvement is a key category for the increase of coaches effectiveness (Gratto, 1983, Pflug, 1980). Also, these actions should be emphasized and developed a positive approach to coaching. The purpose of this study is to present the Greek model for coaches education, as well as characteristics and views of participant coaches. This will provide further information to the improvement and development of coaches education programs.

1. Introduction

Coaches education is one of the keys for the improvement of training process and for the achievement of best possible level of performance. As a result of rapid progress in sport in the last decades, the training and educational needs of coaches will continue to grow. The coaches’ education programs must be thoroughly evaluated to take into account the findings of all areas of applied sport research, as well as the personal characteristics, backgrounds and opinions of coaches in the particular sport. Most modern coaching programs consist of three key areas: a) modules of study in sport science, b) the components related to the skills, techniques, and strategies of the sport and c) practical experience. The balance of these aspects and the relative importance placed on each depends on the particular needs of the sport and the level at which the coach operates (Campbell, 1993) Nowadays, many sport organizations develop different theories or sport-specific modules for coaches from different background (Haslam, 1990, Douge and Hastie, 1993). In coaching, in most cases, more emphasis should be placed on skill development, both physical and social, than the competition result. Because coaches play such a crucial role in the educational and motivational process, they should be encouraged to attend seminar and to gather the latest scientific knowledge by various ways, as the self-improvement is a key category for the increase of coaches effectiveness (Gratto, 1983, Pflug, 1980). Also, these actions should be emphasized and developed a positive approach to coaching. The purpose of this study is to present the Greek model for coaches education, as well as characteristics and views of participant coaches. This will provide further information to the improvement and development of coaches education programs.

2. Models of tennis coaches education programs in greece

The national systems of coaches education are determined mainly by the culture, the policy, the tradition and the athletic structures of each country. Although some of the most established tennis nations have started their coaches’ education programs (CEP’s) in the early part of the 20th century (Crespo et all, IV Congreso Mundial de Ciencia y Deportes de Raqueta 2005), in Greece this procedure starts to be put in practise systematically after 1980’s. The situation is similar to the big majority of sport in the country. The main reason for the beginning of CEP’s programs was the decision of the state (1983) to declare the Sport Academy as University Sport Department Status and the provision of coaching diplomas in every particular sport. Until then the coaches’ education has been based around full-time university training (4-year degree programs). The development of Physical Education as an academic discipline, together with an ongoing demand for an increase in the knowledge base of that discipline, has certainly served to improve the quality of teaching in sport. According to the Greek Athletic Law, there are two ways of receiving a coaching diploma in Greece – through the full time four year studying in the (five) Universities Sport Departments simultaneously with a Physical Education teacher degree and through courses organised by the Governmental Secretariat of Sport (GSS) in conjunction with the National Federations. The graduates of Universities Sport Departments receive directly an A level (higher) diploma in a particular sport. In the second way, mainly focused on ex-players and “unofficially” trainers, volunteers are a small minority, every course is organised for a particular level, starting from the level C (initial) and ending to the level A diploma. From the above it is clear that the vast majority of tennis coaches in Greece is professionals and is employed on a full- time or part-time basis mainly by community sport clubs. The Hellenic Tennis Federation (HTF), as well as almost all National Sport Federations, has no specific formal coaches education program which leads to a diploma in place. Instead, it participates in the organisation of periodical courses in conjunction with the GSS. This participation consists of proposals about the level, the year and the organisation place of CEP, as well as proposals about playing level of participants. Also, HTF can propose 2 people of the five members of the Course Committee of Management and the Course Director. The last one is responsible for the course content. The GSS course structure consists of three levels and the names of the courses are C (initial), B and A (higher). The minimum time between different level courses is 2 years coaching experience after completion of a lower level training. The pre-requisites criteria for participation in courses are: age, playing level, education level. From these pre-requisites, age and education level are fixed. The playing level for every course could be changed, regarding the situation, based on the National Federation proposal. For the two tennis courses carried out in 2002 (Athens, Thessalonica) the pre-requisites for playing level were 8 years player’s licence. There are no fees for the participants, while the cost is financed completely by GSS. Thirty one men and seven women (at least 22 years old, with a secondary education diploma and at least 8 years player’s license) took part in the Athens 2002 level C tennis coaches’ course. The course duration was 3 consecutive weeks (16 days and 150 academic hours). The course subjects were focused on different general modules of sport science and in practical sport skills. The program included diverse theoretical and practical assessments. The subjects of the course were more focused on different modules of sport science (65% of the total hours), such as biomechanics, psychology, injuries treatment, sport history, sport law, sport management, communication, nutrition, coaching, planning, methodology, didactics. Fewer hours (35%) were allocated to the skills, techniques and strategies of the sport, because of the satisfying playing level of the participants and their experience, acquired in advance. On court training was the subject that requires the higher number of teaching hours. Among assessment procedures a project/thesis in a free choice sport topic with a minimum of 2500 words was required. The classification of participants’ papers in thematic areas was the following: Technique 9, Coaching 8, Nutrition 5, Mini – Tennis 4, Physical Condition 3, Psychology 3, The Coach 2, Tactics 2, and Other 2. Finally, coaches courses are organised sometimes in Greece by other foreign organisations, which provide a coach degree. These courses generally are not recognised by Greek sport law. Same is the situation with diplomas obtained by Greek citizens abroad from courses organised by different kinds of organisations. For the recognition of foreign coaches diplomas there is a specific department in GSS, which generally recognises diplomas only given from “official courses” (mainly organised directly by foreign governmental authorities, not Federations or Coaches Unions).

3. Methodology

The sample consisted of 31 men and 7 women. Their age was 32.8 (SD ± = 8.9, min =22 max =54) years old. The method of questionnaire was used for the collection of data, which included closed questions, with a scale of evaluation from 1 (lower) to 7 (higher), and open ones. For the export of results the statistical program SPSS was used, as well as the descriptive statistics. Chi-square was used to test for significant differences when appropriate.

4. Results

The majority of the participants were men, four times and a half more than women (81.6% and 18.4% correspondingly). Their region of origin is province (51.4%) and Athens (48.6%), but most of them live in Athens (73%) than in province (27%). Regarding Educational level of participants, 60.5% have a IV Congreso Mundial de Ciencia y Deportes de Raqueta Secondary Education Diploma, 21.1% have a Tertiary Education Degree (not Sport University), 10.5% have a Sport University Degree (or are students) and other 7.9%. Right handed are 86.8% and left handed are 13.2% of coaches. Among the participants 81.6% are full time coaches, 10.5% are part time, while 7.9% are current players. Concerning the working place (n =26) 38.5% of them work in Athens private and high-level (community sport) clubs, 38.5% in the province and 23% in Athens suburban (community sport) clubs. A 42.9% of coaches (n=35) work more than 30 hours weekly, 34.3% 21-30 hours, 20% 11-20 hours and 22.9 % less than 10 hours. More than 30 hours weekly, work the 80% of coaches in Athens private and high-level clubs and the 50% of the Athens suburban clubs, while 20-30 hours work the 70% of provincial clubs coaches – statistically significant difference (p<0.05). In Athens private and high-level clubs work the 58.3% of Athens origin coaches, while only the 21.4% of province origin – statistically significant difference (p<0.05). The tennis coaches (n =35) consider generally their salary as poor (11.4%), satisfactory (57.1%), good (25.7%) and very good (5.7%). The coaches who work 30+ hours are more satisfied with their salaries. The percentage that consider their salary as good is 40% (M=25.7%), while as satisfactory is 53.3%. The 25% of coaches born in the province consider their salary as poor, in comparison to no coach born in Athens -– statistically significant difference (p<0.5). The 30% of residing in the province coaches consider their salary as poor (in comparison to the 10% of Athens residence) and hardly a 10% good and very good (in comparison to the 41.7% of Athens residence) – statistically significant difference (p<0.05). On the contrary, the 50% of Athens private and high-level clubs coaches estimate their salary as good and the 40% as satisfactory. The great majority of women claim satisfactory salary (66.6%), while on the contrary, in the men’s field there is wider variety of answers. The 34.5% of men consider their salary as good and very good in comparison to the 16.6% of women. The difference is not statistically important, because of the small sample of women (n=6). Also, it is interesting that 80% of left handed state their salary as good in comparison to 53.3% of right-handed. The coaches estimate that personally have a high level of information regarding tennis issues (M =5.2). The estimation is almost similarly independent from the coaches’ working place area. Nevertheless, the estimation of working in Athens high-level private clubs is a little higher (M =5.25) in comparison to those working in Athens suburban clubs (M=5.1) or in the country (5.05). On the contrary, they generally evaluate the capability of Greek tennis coaches with a lower mark (M =4.4). Generally, the evaluation of Athens high-level private clubs coaches is higher (M=4.8) than these ones of provincial clubs (M=4.3) and Athens suburban clubs coaches (M= 4). The way of briefing on modern scientific tennis subjects is through magazines (81.6%), books (63.2%), following -up of seminars and meetings (55.3%) and only 36.2% through Internet. Another more ‘unofficial’ way is through following-up of matches and discussions with other coaches (18.4%). Access to Personal Computer has a 78.9% of coaches, access to the Internet has a 73.7%, but only 60.5% of the total number has a PC at home. From the later, a 56.5% state that they use PCs for gathering tennis information and for the preparation of training, while 43.5% use PCs for other activities. Low is the percentage which has an email account (57.1%). The coaches had a first hand experience with computers during elementary education (2.7%), secondary education (21.6%), and tertiary education (10.8%), in private courses and seminars (13.5%) and ‘by themselves’ (51.4%) The main reasons of not having access to PCs and Internet are: the lack of relative knowledge, the low estimation and the high cost. Finally, particularly high is the number of coaches (n =35) who speak foreign languages (92.1%). Among them 1 foreign language speak 60%, 2 foreign languages speak 28.6% and more than 3 foreign languages speak 11.5%.

5. Discussion

Two basic proposals could be made in order to improve the GSS courses content. Firstly, the introduction of new subjects and mainly the PC use. The aim is to help the coaches in the acquisition of new knowledge and the recording and control of training process. Other subjects which should be imported are first aids treatment, equipment analysis and notation. Secondly, very important is the increase of courses duration without increasing the total hours, so as to provide a bigger period of practical work under real conditions with different levels and ages players. In this way, it could be seen at which level coaches put into practice what they have learned from the CEPs, fact which seems to be a difficulty in the development of coaching courses (Douge and Hastie, 1993). In comparison with other countries similar courses (Crespo et all, 2005) the total amount of time for level C course (150 academic hours) is very high and it resembles a B Level of them. The organisation of GSS programs should be repeated after every certain period of time (e.g. 3-4 years for C level courses) with a more permanent staff and contains. More over, the operation of B and A levels courses is essential. Particularly important is the contribution of National Federation, Couches Union and Universities Sport Departments in planning and managing of modern CEP’s programs. It has been proposed that Universities Sport Departments, or another body, take on the responsibility of the management of CSS courses and their duration be extended to 8 months. Finally, there is a need for harmonisation with the EC guidelines regarding coaches’ education (ENSSEE, 1999, 2005), as well as the establishing equivalence between existing CEP’s. Although the structure and the contain of coaching education in Universities Sport Departments differs from one University to another and the changes are issue of the Universities Authorities, two general proposals could be made in order to improve the quality of Universities CEP’s. Firstly, there is a need for stricter choice of students who are candidates as tennis coaches based on their playing ability. Secondly, ensuring of a wider environment for students practice and future working area by enhancing the relations among Universities Sport Departments and the sport clubs. Particularly worrying is the low rate of attendance by women in the GSS course. This percentage should be increased as for the isomeric integration of women in the society and as for the attraction of higher percentage of girls in the sport. It is very satisfactory, in fact, that among the Universities Sport Departments alumnus the percentage of women is much higher than among the programs of GSS. Certain times indeed it exceeds the 50% of total graduates. This does not mean that all women alumnus succeed in finding or preserve a coach job. The role of Hellenic Tennis Federation in coaches’ education should become more energetic. The creation of a Coaches Education Department according to the standards of leading National Federations is an essential step. The aim of this Department is to gather, develop and disseminate the latest knowledge to all CEP providers and coaches all over the country. This effort will include the creation of educational materials, as well as the conduction of seminars and workshops for all coaches. The application of the latest scientific knowledge has been a contributing factor in the increase of world-class tennis European players (Saviano, 2000). Also, this Department could be responsible and for lifelong education of players, parents and officials. According the study findings in most prestigious working places, which are these in Athens private and high level clubs are working more coaches of Athens origin than in province. This is a result firstly, of that Athens born coaches have been players of some of these clubs and members of their family have been involved as members in these clubs, too. Secondly living, and playing tennis in the capital at the same time, gives more experience, challenges and higher access to private and high level clubs, factors which lead to higher salaries. The findings show also, that most of coaches are satisfied with their salaries and verify that generally a tennis coach is a well-paid job in the Greek society. However, the fact that the majority of coaches are relatively at a young age, without probably family responsibilities may contribute to the acceptance that salaries are satisfying. The coaches who work more hours are more satisfied with their salaries. This is because, the more someone works, the more he/she earns from his/her job. It is common in every job to find more men than women getting a higher level of salaries. This is true generally in coaching, plus the fact that in Greece the role of a tennis coach as sparing player is emphasised, role in which men considered more efficient. The Athens private and high level clubs coaches have a higher estimation regarding their level of information concerning tennis issues. This may be attributed to the fact that they work in an advanced working area where they have more experience and sources of information. The percentage of coaches who participate and gather information from seminars is low and may be the result of the small number of seminars which are organised in Greece. Lower is the percentage of people using Internet systematically for information purposes regarding tennis issues. The number (36.2%) is even lower than the number of those has access to Internet (73.7%) or has a PC at home (60.5%). Regarding the fact that the main reasons for not having access and not using the Internet are the lack of relative knowledge and the low estimation of this necessity, there is a need of particular education of Greek tennis coaches about the benefits and the way of using Internet for gathering tennis information. It is worthwhile to mention that although the percentage of Greek tennis coaches using PCs and Internet is relatively low, outnumbers significantly the equivalent of Greek population using PCs and Internet, which are 45% and 32% correspondingly (GRNET, 2004). In combination with the very high percentages of coaches speaking foreign languages (92%), the training to use PCs and Internet could provide a relative advantage to Greek tennis coaches in gathering up-to-date information. Most of the research findings are confirmed by a questionnaire of Association of Hellenic Tennis Coaches (AHTC, 2000) in which 40 coaches-members of Union answered. According to the answers, an 81% of the coaches are between 22 and 40 years old, 80% of them are men and 89% of them have a Sport University tennis diploma. As full-time coaches worked 62.5%, as part-time 17.5%, while a 20% did not answer. It is interesting that half of the questioned are satisfied with their salary, while the other half are not. They proposed 2-3 seminars every year (M=2.6) to be organised in Greece and the 4 most attractive topics were proposed as follows: training of high level junior players (35%), tactic (20%), sport psychology (15%) and physical condition (12.5%).

6. Conclusion

From the bibliography analysis and the study findings, the improvement and the re-designing of national coaches education system in Greece becomes a necessity. Any coach education strategy must be built around the sporting structures and traditions that already exist in the country. Same basic proposals have been made regarding offering by Universities Sport Departments and Governmental Secretariat of Sport Tennis Coaches Education Programs, as well as the role of Hellenic Tennis Federation in order to ensure the provision of update scientific knowledge. This research effort should be considered a step in planning of most suitable programmes for Greek tennis coaches.

Bibliografía

  • Association of Hellenic Tennis Coaches, 2000 Questionnaire of AHTC, Unpublished document.
  • Campbell, S. 1993 “Coaching Education Around the World” Sport Science Review, 2(2), p. 62-74.
  • Crespo, M. Reid, M. and D. Miley, “2005 Tennis Coaches Education: A Worldwide Perspective” ITF Coaching and Sport Science Review, 35, p.11-13.
  • Douge, B. Hastie, P. 1993 “Coaching Education Around the World” Sport Science Review, 2(2), p. 14-29.
  • European Network of Sport Sciences, Education and Employment, 1999 European structure for the 5 levels of Coaching Education, 2nd edition, in www.europetennis.org/Development/ESTC.aspx
  • European Network of Sport Sciences, Education and Employment, 2005 Review of the EU 5-level structure for the recognition of coaching qualification, in www.europetennis.org/pdf/Development/review.pdf
  • Gratto, J. 1983 “Competencies used to evaluate high school coaches” Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 54 (5), p. 59-60.
  • Greek Research and Technical Network in www.grnet.gr
  • Haslam, IR. 1990 “Expert assessment of the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) theory component” Canadian Journal of Sport Sciences, 15, p. 201-212.
  • Pflug, J. 1980 “Evaluating high school coaches: A description of the program used at the Beaverton (Oregon) School District” Journal of Physical Education and Recreation, 51 (4), p. 76-77.
  • Saviano, N. 2000 “Meeting the Worldwide Challenges for Coaching Education” USTA High-Performance Coaching, Vol. 2, No 1, p. 1-2.

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