By Bo Hanson – 4x Olympian, Coaching Consultant & Director of Athlete Assessments

At the recent 2009 Evolution of the Athlete Conference in Brisbane Australia, Athlete Assessments conducted a survey of participant coaches from Australia and New Zealand.   This article highlights the results of two important questions within the survey – one on leadership development and one on access to mentors.

The results are alarming:

  • A staggering 52% of coaches have reported less than 5 days of leadership development in the last two years and one in five coaches reported none or less than a single day of development.  
  • More than half the coaches had no mentor or access to a senior coach to support them.

The coach’s role is critical. Few other professions have such an impact on the development of our future generations. Both young and older athletes look directly to their coach to role model the types of behaviors which create a successful contribution to our society. The fact is, a coach is a role model and an extremely influential and important leader.

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In a study into Leadership in Australian businesses, it was found only 20% of Australian leaders were formally educated, compared with 63% in Germany and 85% in Japan and the United States. Only 50% of Australian leaders had been adequately prepared for a leadership role. The “average” leader spent roughly 7 days per year, or 3% of their time, involved in training for their development and future performance in their roles.

Based on the conference coach survey results, there is a significant gap in either leadership development opportunities for sports coaches, or there is little take up of what development opportunities do exist.

In another study into the impact of training and development on productivity, it was found a 2% increase in productivity has been shown to net a 100% return on investment in training. In a Louis Harris and Associates poll, it was reported among employees with “poor” training opportunities, 41% planned to leave within a year, whereas those who considered their company’s training opportunities to be “excellent”, only 12% planned to leave within the same period.   What is the cost of refilling just one role in an organization? Roughly 100% of their yearly salary in advertising, recruitment services and lost productivity. What are lack of development opportunities costing sport? Some of the costs are not even seen. For example, how many potential coaches (quality coach candidates) neglect sport altogether and focus on their business career because of the difference in development opportunities and other issues.

Bottom line is this, we expect our athletes to learn and develop and therefore we as coaches must also look for opportunities to do the same.

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