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New directions in coaching and officiating development

The story of the establishment of the AIS as a reaction to Australia’s ‘disastrous’ medal tally at the Montreal Olympic Games has passed into legend. Less well known is that the Government of the day actually funded two new programs that were to revitalise and drive the Australian sport system for decades to come. The second was the establishment of the Australian Coaching Council (ACC) in 1978.

The ACC was charged with the responsibility to collate and standardise the existing knowledge base on coaching and provide a platform for National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) to develop courses and accreditation criteria that service all levels of coaching from community club level through to high performance. Thus the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) was launched in 1979, a cornerstone of Australian sport for nearly four decades.

The first NSO accreditation schemes were approved and registered by the ACC in 1980, accompanied by the production of the first generic coaching manuals: the Level 1 You’re the Coach and the Level 2 Towards Better Coaching. Over the ensuing years, ACC staff worked collaboratively with NSOs to develop their NCAS programs and did so similarly for officials with the launch of the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme (NOAS) in 1994, along with the production of a wide range of coaching and officiating resources for sports to use and adapt to their specific needs. Almost every NSO has been a part of the NCAS and NOAS for decades.

In 2012 an independent review was commissioned to determine whether the NCAS / NOAS were still meeting the needs of the sector. This was followed by research into the attitudes and needs of community level coaches and market segmentation research.

The findings were clear. Since the establishment of the schemes, adult learning theory and practice has shifted, new technologies are available, participant expectations of the sport experience have changed and parental involvement in sport is different. Coach turnover is unacceptably high, particularly at the community level, and poor coaching is a major factor in children dropping out of their sport. Importantly, although the NCAS has been in existence since 1979, the majority of people currently coaching sport are not accredited. Finally, NSOs wanted less compliance and more guidance from the ASC.

A change in approach was required. NSOs needed to improve their capacity to independently develop and maintain their coach and official frameworks and training and support programs in accordance with current best practice. In response in 2015 the ASC released new resources and put in place professional development workshops to provide NSO personnel with information and tools to develop their own frameworks and programs. These resources encourage a ‘blended learning’ approach, where a range of ongoing education and training opportunities are made available to coaches and officials at all levels of sport.

With the shift from ‘compliance’ to ‘support’, there was no longer a need for a system whereby the ASC would approve and register the various coaching and officiating frameworks and programs. As a result from September 2017, the ASC has retired the NCAS and NOAS programs.

The ASC will continue to develop content and programs that assist the sport sector, including the online Community Coaching General Principles and Community Officiating General Principles as well as other generic coaching and officiating resources.

In 2018 the ASC has partnered with a range of sports to pilot new approaches to address the issues of coach retention and quality. These ‘Coach Developer’ projects focused on the importance of ongoing contact with coaches to both provide professional development and general support. The results include improved quality of coaching, improved parental approval of their child’s sport experience and better coach retention. A range of resources have been produced to support this as a result.

The challenge now is to upscale and extend the pilot projects so that every one of Australia’s 650,000 coaches have access to the training and support they need.  More information, resources and case studies are available.


How to get involved

Coaches and officials have a major influence in the experience of everyone involved in sport and play a vital role in the engagement and retention of participants.

Every sport in Australia needs a system for developing sufficient numbers of quality coaches and officials to meet the needs of their participants now and into the future.

National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) are responsible for the design and implementation of their coaching and officiating frameworks.  Coaches and officials interested in what training and support their sport provides should go to the website of the relevant NSO.

The toolkit on this website is designed to assist NSOs to develop coaching and officiating frameworks.  The ASC also conducts regular workshops with a range of NSOs that have been through the steps, providing the opportunity to enhance the final product through understanding the experiences of others.

The toolkit is part of a range of resources on this site that NSOs are free to use to supplement their frameworks.

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Did you know?

Gold Coast 2018 is the 5th Commonwealth Games to be hosted by Australia.

Quick numbers

11.6 million Australian adults participate in sport or physical activity three or more times per week.
3.2 million Australian children participate in organised sport or physical activity outside of school.
$10 billion is spent annually by Australians on fees for participation in sport or physical activity.
17 million Australian adults participate in a sport or physical activity every year.
650 thousand Australians either coach, teach or instruct sport.