How Digital Learning is Transforming Sports Coaching

Updated: Apr 22


Transforming sports coaching with digital learning solutions

Traditionally, sports coaching has involved the direct interaction of the student and the coach with the coach training the student as per the student’s skills and strengths. Martial arts like Karate or Kung Fu and sports like boxing require the student to train in close coordination with the coach with a specific set of exercises tailored to the physique and abilities of the student. Sports like cricket, football, basketball, baseball, etc.., often involve training in groups or batches ranging from 5 to 15 students where the coach would offer guidance and tips to help the students improve their skills followed by practice session games made up of members of the group divided into teams, and playing against each other. All of this completely changed when the threats posed by the Covid-19 virus completely changed the way we interact and conduct any form of business.


Impact of Covid-19 on Sports Coaching

Schools and colleges were shut and students had to return home. Stadiums, swimming pools, gyms, private and government sports training centers were all shut down as governments across the world, imposed lockdown to minimize the spread of infection. With social distancing becoming the norm and “stay at home” and “work from home” becoming the norm; sports coaches and physical fitness trainers were the worst hit. In the case of regular academic classes, schools and colleges, managed to slowly build a systematic process of virtual classes by using different tools ranging from Skype, WhatsApp, Google Meet, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and different LMS platforms. Sports coaches had no other option but to opt for video-calls using WhatsApp or Skype to mentor their students. Several trainers also took to Instagram to host their training videos and classes. But there was a definite disadvantage to all these solutions, which at best were makeshift, and did not offer a proper learning experience to the students or trainees.


How Does Technology Enable Digital Learning?

Technology is an important cornerstone of modern learning. In the last decade universities and colleges of repute began embracing open source and proprietary learning management systems (or LMS) to improve the learning experience. Tech savvy students and teachers benefitted the most out of this approach. Institutions catering to students from under-privileged families without access to computers at home were not able to be a part of this system. The availability of affordable Android phones and government-sponsored wi-fi zones or subsidized cellular connectivity plans completely changed the learning ecosystem as WhatsApp became a huge part of learning in countries like India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Philippines, etc.


Today, digital learning covers a wider spectrum of learning. It is not just a video or a PowerPoint presentation, or any form of content shared over email. Digital learning is the larger learning experience that covers the different methods used by teachers to teach their students and the different learning mediums, tech-platforms, or systems, which are used to deliver this learning to the students.


Different Mediums for Digital Learning

Popular solutions used to foster digital learning are:

  • Pre-recorded and live videos which are delivered to the students’ smartphone or computer via an app or a learning management system or website. Even videos delivered via a social media platform like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter will come under this category

  • One-to-one interactions via Skype, WhatsApp, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams

  • Cloud-based LMS wherein students have access to eLearning content. Students can access this learning content via their smartphones or computers

  • Open source, server-based learning platforms that offer access to pre-recorded lectures and training content

  • Dedicated mobile learning apps that offer a wide variety of real-time lectures, assignments, student-teacher interactions, and learning dashboards to track student progress

  • Free platforms like Khan Academy and YouTube that offer a wide selection of learning resources grouped by age and category

  • Platforms like Coursera and Udemy that offer online courses and certification programs for different learning levels

How to Enable Digital Learning in Sports Coaching?

Sports coaching is a specialized field that relies a lot on direct interaction between the coach and students or players. In the absence of a way to interact directly due to restrictions caused by the pandemic or due to safety reasons; it is necessary to present a viable and reliable solution that ensures that fitness and sports coaching happens without a break.


Coaches can curate online certification programs for people wishing to become a certified sports coach and also design programs for young sports-persons or aspiring professional sports players. These programs can be in blended learning format with a mix of online learning and real-time in-person training.


An ideal case study that showcases the use of technology to foster sports coaching and fitness is the Nike Training Club App. Built to offer ideal training and health coaching, the app connects users and coaches and offers yoga, home workouts, core and strength training through the mobile app itself.


In India, the Healthify Me app has built a successful business model by bringing the gym and the personal trainer to the comfort of the users’ home. Starting by analyzing the basic health status of the individual the app offers one free consultation call and those interested can sign up for a premium paid plan, which offers the services of a nutrition coach and a fitness trainer who create customized plans. The user is required to log in to every physical activity and the food and water consumed every day using the app. The app also integrates an artificial intelligence bot named Ria that offers insights on diet.


Thus, we observe that already we are having several organizations using technology effectively to connect fitness trainers and sports coaches with their students.


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Conclusion

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