Academic journal article The Sport Journal

A Coach's Responsibility: Learning How to Prepare Athletes for Peak Performance

Academic journal article The Sport Journal

A Coach's Responsibility: Learning How to Prepare Athletes for Peak Performance

Article excerpt


Since the beginning of sport competition, athletes have sought to acquire the skills and knowledge of sport in order to become "champions." As sport evolved into organized activity, coaches began working more closely with athletes on sport skill development. Education and training programs have been created, over the past 30 years, in an effort to assist coaches and athletes with the development of methods and strategies for achieving peak performance. When designing a coaching education program, however, one must ask what do coaches need to know; what are the essential elements of athletic coaching?

In the 1960s, Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, founder of the United States Sports Academy, outlined what he called the American Training Patterns (personal communication, April 2010) which focused on physical components of training; namely, speed, skill, stamina, strength, and suppleness (i.e., flexibility). Over time, our knowledge of how to train these five components has become more comprehensive and has been expanded into other disciplines as coaches continue striving to develop exceptional athletes (i.e., "champions"). Though early emphasis in coaching focused on athletic performance enhancement and basic physiology, other disciplines of human performance eventually became components of training athletes. The purpose of this article is to examine the aforementioned components and introduce the world to the United States Sports Academy's newly revised American Coaching Patterns.

American Coaching Patterns is a six-course program, encompassing six fundamentals of training: stamina, strength, suppleness or flexibility, agility, speed and skill. The six courses focus on sports administration, coaching methods, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, sports psychology, and athlete development. With the addition of these new disciplines, training athletes has become a holistic activity focusing on the entire athlete (i.e., mental and physical aspects).

Risk Management

Participating in sports involves a certain level of risk, even when reasonable precautions have been implemented (17). Coaches have some level of responsibility for all aspects of their athletic program. For example, coaches need to be concerned about the welfare of their players and the maintenance of athletic equipment and facilities. These responsibilities fall under the umbrella of risk management and the controlled evaluation of the athletic environment. Evaluating risk management in the athletic environment is a significant administrative element for coaches. While risk can never be fully eliminated, these individuals must be aware of, and must seek to limit the chances liability exposure. Hence, coaches must exert significant effort to monitor all components of their athletic programs.

Coaches must realize they will encounter facility and/or equipment risk on a constant basis. A substantial amount of time is required to assess sport facilities and equipment in order to prevent injury to sport participants during competition. Numerous sport facilities continue to be built in order to house athletic competitions making facility risk management a top priority of coaches (11). In order to create a regular routine that will lead to a safe environment, coaches should follow five guidelines set by Dougherty and Bonanno (16): 1) implement regular inspection and maintenance of schedules for facilities and equipment used, 2) ensure that facilities exceed regulatory safety standards, 3) ensure that equipment used exceeds regulatory safety standards, 4) ensure that the installing of new equipment is completed by a professional, and 5) ensure that all equipment used is safe and appropriate for the participants involved in the sport activity.

Several risk management measures can be employed by coaches in order to minimize external risks. Examples include reviewing sport participants' insurance coverage twice per year, reporting sport-related incidents in a timely manner to proper authorities (e. …

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