Train the Trainer - Exploring New Digital Learning Solutions to Train Sports Coaches



Have you ever wondered how some of the top sports-persons would fare without their support system of coach, dietician and nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach, mental health coach, etc.? At the outset, when we look at premier sports-stars like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Steffi Graff, Serena Williams, Saina Nehwal, etc.., one is quick to forget the team behind the star.


Behind the glitz and glamour of the sports-arenas and award-ceremonies, the coaching team collaborates to prepare these sports-stars for the challenges of the different sports that they play. This blog will examine the changing trends in sports coaching and how digital technologies are transforming the way how players and coaches interact. We will also look at the feasibility of a dedicated digital learning tech platform for sports coaches.


Sports Coaching – A Special Skill

Sports coaching is a special skill. One has to be proficient in the sport, perhaps a former star of the sport, have strong mental conditioning, understand the skills and limitations of the person being trained, and have a collaborative mindset that allows the coach to work with other members of the training team. Coaches also have to undergo different certification programs that assess their skills.


The challenges of the modern sporting world, the pressure of Covid-19, strict scientific monitoring of supplements, and doping laws are making the presence of a certified nutritionist, doctor, sports coach, and a strength & conditioning coach; a must for all sports-persons. The margin for error is very slim and even a seemingly harmless road-side snack, a herbal supplement, or an improperly done exercise; could land the sport-person into trouble. Thus the demand for trained and certified coaches across the sporting spectrum is quite high.


There are only a specific set of premier institutions, which offers detailed certificate and degree programs in this highly specialized area of sports coaching. The seats are limited, the tuition fee is quite high, scholarships are limited, and the number of applicants is also increasing every year. In such a scenario, setting up an online learning or digital learning platform that offers certificate courses in sports coaching can be a highly viable venture.


Existing Learning Models

Modern coaching solutions rely heavily on in-person training with the participants of the program having to travel to different cities and the core university or college offering the program and take up active lessons and tests there before being certified. With Covid-19 impacting all businesses, the higher education sector also had to reinvent itself with heavy reliance on traditional LMSs that could not offer a 360 degree learning experience.

A combination of videocalls, tools like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, helped learners and instructors connect with each other. As economies open up globally and academic institutions welcome students to their campuses; decision-makers at these institutions need to look at the feasibility of utilizing digital-tech solutions to foster learning.


Integrated Digital Sports Coaching Platform

A powerful, modern, and intuitive digital learning platform that offers mobile learning support through dedicated learning apps would be a great solution to teach sports coaching effectively. The number of days of live-interaction can be reduced significantly and allow the institution to subsidize the fees, help learners save money on travel, and enable more applicants to join the training program. The learners would only need to visit the institution for the written exams and a pre-booked sports arena to complete the ground-based coaching activities to earn the certificate.


Features that Would Add Value to Such a Learning Platform

Looking away from a traditional LMS or LXP. The learning platform designed for digital sports coaching could be an interactive website that hosts videos, SME-interviews, animated exercise videos, podcasts, live chat function, etc. Learners should be able to access the content even from a smartphone. It need not necessarily be via dedicated mobile app, though the availability of the app would be an asset. A responsive website with an intuitive interface, detailed analytics for the course administrator, and clear personalized learning paths; would make the learning process engaging and improve retention of learning.


The instructor and the learners looking to earn the coaching certification should be able to interact with each other with ease. Videos with the instructor demonstrating exercises and best-practices to maintain fitness should be easily accessible. The platform should allow the aspiring coaches to enter data regarding their physical fitness and body measurements. Data about food-intake and an analysis of this in tandem with the body measurements will help the instructors determine the right diet for the learners. When these learners get certified as coaches and begin to train sports-persons or young athletes looking to improve their skills, they can put this strategy into practice and recommend the correct diet and requisite strength and conditioning training to them.


A Sustainable Business Model for Small and Large Institutions

Larger institutions or schools of sports science that are a part of big universities have ample funding support to come up with their own dedicated digital learning solutions. But what about the smaller institutions and sports-centers that focus on a specific sport and cater to people in smaller cities or towns? This is where a subscription-based digital learning platform that allows coaches to configure a simple instance of the platform on their website and upload their learning content through a cloud-based digital learning platform. As the number of subscribers / learners increases the coach pays more fees to the learning platform vendor who increases the bandwidth to accommodate the additional learners.


Digital Sports Coaching – The Way Forward

Digital sports coaching allows more people to be trained in the science of coaching. This in turn produces certified coaches who are able to train more sports-persons and athletes. The increasing penetration of technology, easy access to smartphones, and better Internet connectivity mean that more people can sign-up for digital learning programs. This is not just restricted to sports coaching; but all subjects. The challenge is to ensure that the learning solutions and the platform hosting the learning content is modern and user-friendly. At S4Carlisle we are keen to partner with sports coaching academies and universities to design and deploy world-class digital sports coaching solutions. Write to us at sales@s4carlisle.com for more details.