The ITU is committed to supporting the development of Triathlon worldwide, and actively pursues this approach in several development initiatives. Many of these initiatives form the foundations upon which National Federations, particularly developing and emerging federations, can build an athlete development pipeline – a key element of any long-term strategy. Without such a pipeline, there will not be a growth in participation to develop the wider sport, and significantly less chance of developing high performing athletes.
Triathlon coaches play a central role in this development at every level around the world. In addition to their core coaching role, it is this dedicated workforce that influences individual personal development and welfare by delivering the key messages about ethics, beliefs, fair play, and values, through quality coach-athlete relationships. Coaching is a powerful catalyst for change within societies and economies around the world; contributing positively to social agendas by promoting health and generating economic activity through employment, education, purchase of equipment, use of facilities and attendance at events.
Triathlon coaches continue to work tirelessly with increasingly diverse populations and face greater demands from athletes, parents, guardians, administrators and spectators alike. They are required to fulfil a variety of roles that include mentor, educator, technical advisor, psychologist and business manager. With this growing remit and increasing expectations, it is critical that a clear and comprehensive approach to developing coaches who can operate successfully in this context is a key building block to ensure the future development of Triathlon.
International Triathlon Union (ITU) Coach Education Program has several key outcomes:
- To grow and develop the sport globally by making high quality coach education accessible to all National Federations (NFs), regardless of their developmental status (developing through to established);
- Providing a quality assured framework for coach education and development that underpins coach development initiatives;
- Providing coaches with a coach development pathway for all roles from high performance to grassroots coaching, which gives them the ability to develop their competence and effectiveness by international standards, regardless of their professional status (voluntary or paid);
- To provide a mechanism by which coaches from all NFs can progress along the coaching pathway, should they so desire.
In a global environment, the approach to coaching cannot align itself with a one-size fits all approach. What works for certain coaches in one environment may not work for others. Equally the existing knowledge, learning and experience of individual coaches will differ and as they develop; different types of development will be of greater or lesser value. Therefore, a blended and flexible approach to learning and development has been adopted.
Limited resources for the ITU and NFs mean that careful consideration and coordination is required to deliver these development activities. Utilising a collaborative and knowledge sharing approach the ITU is in a strong position to be able to build strong relationships with a wide range of partners, including NFs and external organisations (e.g. International Council for Coaching Excellence) to offer a comprehensive fit for purpose solution.
To address these key concerns a four-way solution has been identified:
- The ITU will continue to deliver ITU courses using ITU accredited facilitators in regions where the most benefit can be achieved. This is the mechanism that many people will have been familiar with prior to 2018. Usually a course is run in a single location, but available to coaches from a range of National Federations relatively close by geographically. These courses are usually funded by the ITU or related partners, such as Olympic Solidarity Funding. These courses are usually targeted at developing nations.
- A planned new approach is for an individual federation to request that the ITU delivers a course in their country, usually solely for the use of its NF members. In this instance, the National Federation will bear all the costs of the course and may choose to recoup these costs by charging coaches to attend. It will be necessary for NFs to access to appropriate funding for this approach.
- National Federations can opt to apply to syndicate the ITU courses as part of a partnership programme. This is where a NF can work with the ITU to use the ITU online course resources and materials. Part of the process is then to train the NF staff and facilitators to ensure the courses run to required standard. The NF bears all the costs of running the courses and pays the ITU a fee for each course, this fee is used to support the process, maintain the online platform and further develop the online courses. To be eligible for this option NFs will need to meet certain criteria and capabilities. This process is was piloted with Triathlon Ireland during 2017-18.
- Several NFs develop and run their own coach education programs, and this is an important part of the overall strategy. National Federations at this level will ideally have gone through the ITU Accreditation Coach Education Program (ACEP) process.
Having four different implementation approaches means than in any given context an appropriate solution should be possible.
The ITU coach development pathway is the ITU model for coach education course delivery. It is designed to be flexible enough to meet the demands of coaches from a novice level to senior coach level, in a variety of different coaching contexts; ranging from participation to performance domains; and from environments where Triathlon is in its infancy to well established and highly effective National Federations.
The pathway provides for four stages of development, from Activator through to Level 3 coach. Many organisations seek to separate out different coaching domains (e.g. Performance, Participation, Children) into different coaching courses and separate pathways. The reality of constrained resources and coaches working in multiple areas suggests a more appropriate way is to deliver formal coach education courses which give coaches a progressive set of skills and knowledge which are fundamental to any area of coaching, so that they can work in whichever domain they want and provide quality coaching experiences.
These skills build over the progressive courses to develop coaches who are:
- reflective and self-aware;
- self-motivated and self-learners;
- embrace challenges;
- actively seek knowledge and open to different ideas;
- work effectively through sharing and collaboration;
- develop new approaches to coaching issues;
- and fundamentally have a positive effect as a coach.
These skills are not easily achieved and need to be built over a long period of time. The nature of the ITU coaching courses reflects this, and it should be evident that the structure and nature of each course builds upon but is different from its predecessor. The pathway overview document describes the key differences between the course for coaches and NFs, to enable them to ascertain the best way to interact with the courses.
For more information please visit our coach education documents page.
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