I’ve recently been considering expertise in coaching in relation to sports like my own (ski cross) which as yet don’t have any formal coach education systems.
Schempp and McCullick in Lyle and Cushion 2010 state that there is no substitute for experience when it comes to developing expertise in coaching. The challenge for myself as a ski cross coach is “where does the expertise come from?” Many coaches, including myself, have experience in the sport although the sport has changed significantly over the past few years. Ski cross coaching in my experience comes from doing the job. This does result in inexperienced ski cross coaches finding themselves coaching at a high level due to experience they have in alpine racing.
Schempp and McCullick 2010 go on to state that many coaches ignore the lessons offered by their experience but in ski cross this might be a good thing as many coaches just don’t have the experience in the sport. I questioned my own experience in the sport and how this relates to my coaching. Having competed in the sport, albeit in a different era, I had some experience to fall back on however in a one month block of training the athletes would complete more runs on a ski cross course than I had completed in my life. Whilst this meant I had limited experience as a competitor, I did mean that I had been through the process of ski cross competition which was invaluable in my early days as a ski cross coach.
I drew heavily upon my alpine racing experience as an athlete and as a coach in terms of planning and structuring the training and competition phase. I used the experience of ski cross athletes to help with the planning and training activities and I would say that much of my experience now as a coach draws heavily upon the past experience of my athletes. The first season of competition was a learning experience as I learned that the schedule of ski cross races placed many unexpected challenges on the athletes which led to changes in the program for my second season as a coach. In a new and ever developing sport it is important to be very open minded, use your own experience, learn from the experience of others (athletes and coaches) and to be prepared for the sport to change direction suddenly.