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USA Swimming Preps New Coach Education Program

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USA Swimming is preparing a revamped coach education program that will put forward new best practices and encourage coaches at all levels to continue their education.

Joel Shinofield, managing director of sports development for USA Swimming, told SwimSwam.com that a new coach education program could also be a way for the American Swimming Coaches Association to grow its membership. 

The new program will be aimed at providing educational material to fit whatever stage a coach may be at in their career, from beginning coaches to those coaching at the national level.

“We want to make sure that all of our coaches have opportunities to access really high-level and high-quality education about coaching,” Shinofield said. “So the more resources that we can provide for clubs and coaches going forward, the better that experience is going to be for athletes.”

Shinofield said USA Swimming will also integrate the SafeSport program with its coach education platform.

“One of the things that we’ll weave through the entire platform are the cultural critical elements, and obviously SafeSport is one of those things,” he said. “And once again, SafeSport in a way that is relevant to coaches at the level that they’re at. The more we can do it in a way that is relevant and fits into a coaching experience, and the way that they are coaching, in the way that they view their careers, the better and more effective we’ll be with that.”

Coach requirements will be adjusted based on the amount of coaching an individual is doing.

“We’re not going to require somebody who’s coaching three hours a week to do 50 hours of education, beyond what we already required,” Shinofield said. “We’re not going to make it onerous. We just want to make it helpful and relevant.”

USA Swimming has done a lot of research to ensure that the education it does offer will be well received.

“We interviewed — and these were comprehensive 90-minute, two-hour interviews — over 70 coaches,” Shinofield said, noting that the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee put the results together. “Just to interview them about their learning styles, how they learn, what they feel, what they would’ve liked to learn as a young coach, as an advanced career coach… what they feel like their assistant coaches are lacking in terms of formal knowledge, what they would like to be able to provide for their assistant coaches.”

A cost structure for the program is still in the works, but Shinofield said the hope is to keep the cost down and defraying costs by offering the program to other entities, including non-members.

“One thing we’ve seen with other NGBs who’ve offered this type of education is the numbers of people who take it, seems to be higher than actual coaches that they had registered within their sport,” Shinofield said. “So some parents decide they want to take it just to become more familiar with the sport even though they’re not actually going to coach. And so we’d have to charge, non-members a different fee than our members, and our members would have a much lower fee.”

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