Fuelled by fear of not performing well at the 2012 London Olympics, the UK is absolutely throwing their Sport Lottery money at their Sport Science and Coaching systems and organizations. Measured by the number and variety of jobs, the UK is starting to make the Soviet and East German sport system of the 70’s and 80’s look like a small Mickey Mouse operation. If you are a Sport Science or Physical Education recent graduate there is only one place in the world to be right now – Great Britain.
Take a look at this advert from the UK Sport Job listing – being paid to come up with new ideas?
If you go the the Jobs page on this blog, you will see from the first four links that I have been able to track Sport Science and Coaching employment opportunities in the UK for the last few years. Separate jobs for Talent Identification, Performance or Notational Analysts, Biomechanists, Strength & Conditioning Coaches, Regional coaching Coordinators, Nutritionists, Lifestyle Consultants – the list goes on. What can we learn from the astounding number and variety of sport-related jobs?
We learn that the science behind coaching and sport performance is a complex and sophisticated process, that is not really well understood outside of a small circle of academics. It certainly does not appear to be understood in the American sport world where the dominant coach hiring paradigm is still to hire the alum (College) or famous ex-player (professional). With the proper education (equivalent of a Bachelor’s or Master’s Sport Science degree) and mentoring (scientific feedback in addition to practical experience) ex-players can make great coaches. Right now there are no real mechanisms (such as viable and mandatory Coaching Education programs) in place to support these ex-athletes, and they are left to their own “self-educating” efforts.
What is amazing is that the UK has taken the big step from having acquired knowledge (which we all have access to), to actually putting in place a system that might actually be translated into a usable form. I say “might” because organizational transformation takes time (10-20 years by some experts), and I am not sure that the Brits will be able to pull it off by 2012. Some of the lottery is trickling down to England Squash, and hopefully there will be more if squash makes it into the 2016 Olympics.