Coach expertise development – what prompts accelerated learning?

I recently commented on an article regarding coach expertise development, written by Richard Bailey (“Talking Education and Sport”).  The big question: do coaches move through “stages” of expertise, or is their development completely linear?  Most researchers speculate that development is generally stage-like.

I am particularly interested in the events that happen right before a rapid increase in coaching expertise.  What are the triggers that cause rapid learning to occur?  Some suggestions…

  • The coach experiences an interpersonal event that challenges her philosophy, or challenges her deeply held beliefs about human behavior.
  • The coach experiences a “system fail” that forces him to critically examine what went wrong.
  • After meeting with a person who challenges the status quo on coaching practices, the coach is motivated to improve some aspect of her own coaching practice
  • An athlete succeeds or fails in spite of a coach’s efforts
Research has shown that reflective learning is typically how coaches learn best.  Given that coaches may have little time to reflect on a seasonal plan once they are in the midst of implementing it, it’s only natural that reflective learning occurs at the end of the season.  Those “eureka!” moments are more likely to occur at the end of the season, when the stress is lower, and the commitment to a game plan isn’t as strong.  There is time to change the plan and reconsider.  In part, the timing of reflective learning might account for the stepped nature of expertise development.
It is quite interesting to consider what events might lead a coach from being a “novice” to being a “competent” coach.  I’m quite interested to hear what events might mark this transition.  Comments are open!
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