Why Do We Train Coaches This Way?

Steve Ballmer, owner of the L.A. Clippers NBA basketball team, made the money he used to buy that team by working for Microsoft Corporation. When Mr. Ballmer was chief executive officer of Microsoft, he banned PowerPoint presentations from his meetings. Instead he insisted upon getting all of the salient information ahead of time so he could be prepared to ask questions when the face-to-face session began. He said “It focuses our attention.”

Oh, and Microsoft is the creator of the PowerPoint program.

In a typical coach training session, the first thing that is done is to pass out the textbooks, er training manuals. Then the presenter tells the assembled coach candidates what they will learn when they have an opportunity to read the manual, which they will not have before their final test.

This is exactly what CEO Ballmer loathed.

So, why are we doing this?

I suspect it is because very little thinking has been done about the coach training process and it has just chugged along by inertia. At most, the sponsoring agencies will consider a remaking of the training manual, which often enough turns out to be a reformatting of the same information, and not a fundamental reconsideration of the material and how it is best delivered.

Back when we were doing such trainings and when we started our own trainings, we recognized this problem and solved it by the expedient of making the training manual available online. (We were not the only ones to recognize this but there seems to be a Black Hole waiting for suggestions to the parent organizations regarding such trainings.)

An even better solution is to supply all of the training material online and then also provide a test upon the “book material” that needs to be passed before taking the hands-on part. This seems to be more fair to the people who aren’t oriented to such tests. We had a coach candidate at the Level 2 training admit to considerable test anxiety as he hadn’t taken a test since he was in high school and he was now 54 years old. We set him down and tested him orally and got him his certificate, but an online program with section quizzes that can be taken multiple times . . . in private . . . would have allowed such a candidate to deal with his anxiety on his own and not to have the embarrassment of possibly failing a test from which there is no recourse, other than taking the course over again, as was the case back then. (This happened to someone in My Level 4 course and a friend of mine also didn’t pass the Level 4 exam, a very expensive problem.)

There are some indications that progress is being made on this, which is long overdue. I am in a “wait and see” mode on this.


Filed under For All Coaches

3 responses to “Why Do We Train Coaches This Way?

  1. I think I must have had an exceptional Level 2 course trainer when I took the class a few years ago. Gave us the books (1 & 2) ahead and we did read ahead. Did the discussions, demonstrations, practical hands on bow work and then discussed again and did the little test. All of us passed. We all were competitive experienced archers and I think only one had taken Level 1 prior. I agree with the premise you mention.


    • The L1 is not a prerequisite for taking an L2 as it was originally designed to serve camp archery instructors. I took my L2 without an L1, just having a couple of years experience in organized archery.

      As i mentioned. more than a few of us trainers discovered the magic of getting to books to the students weeks in advance. USAA made this difficult for quite some time as only the instructor could order the training packets, which left us with the distribution problem. And since they were $25 a packet, and people regularly skipped the training (only being asked to pay at the training) made things risky for the trainers. Why the training packets couldn’t have been sold to individuals is beyond me. Were they worried the materials were going to be stolen, plagiarized?

      The original L2 was a two-day training, but with the materials distributed ahead of time, it can easily be shrunk to just one day. (Mine was 2+ days: Fri Pm, all day Sat, most of Sunday)

      On Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 1:44 PM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  2. David Beeton

    I have to say that I am a great believer in using “open book” testing! After all, once you have finished whatever course you are taking, having struggled through the exam, feeling lucky that the questions just fell into your knowledge base, the first thing that you are going to do, if you come across a situation that you are less familiar with, is to pick up your training manual and read up on it! Knowing where to get the information from and how to use it is just as much an important skill!

    Liked by 1 person

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