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  • Norman Brook

Competent or Capable Coaches?

The education and training programmes adopted by most sports federations to develop their coaching workforce have in recent years tended towards a competence based training approach.

Competence is often defined as a combination of awareness, skills, knowledge and attitude that enables an individual to coach to the agreed standards required to coach in a specified context.

Competence Capability Matrix

Competence Capability Matrix

Competent coaches have demonstrated the ability to operate effectively in a familiar coaching situation.

A competence based training approach fits well with the aspiration that coaching is a vocation.  Vocational education and training tends to adopt a competence based training model.

Higher education has tended to promote the concept of capable rather than competent individuals.  Capability implies that an individual possesses a combination of awareness, skills, knowledge and attitude that allows them to operate effectively and appropriately in response to varied, familiar and unfamiliar circumstances.

There is a strong argument that coaches need to be effective in varied, familiar and unfamiliar circumstances.  To deal not just with the known but also with unknown problems and situations.

Capability may be harder to assess than competency, but it is coaches with capability that will be the innovative, creative, problem solving, learning practitioners that will assist athletes and teams to reach new levels of performance.  Levels of performance that may require coach and athlete/team to journey into unchartered territory.

Competency is more about process, whereas capability is more about the person and their ability to adapt to new and changing situations. There may be an argument that at the lower levels of the coaching pathway, assistant coach/leader or basic coach that we just need competent coaches.  However at the top end of sports coaching, our senior and master coaches need much more and need to possess capability.

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