Taking a broader perspective on coaching research
This week I presented findings from the Coach Tracking Study at a meeting of the Sports Volunteer Research Network. Given the emphasis on volunteering I decided to go back to the raw data and look at the differences between full-time coaches and volunteer coaches. Some of the main findings from the presentation (that you can view by clicking HERE) included:
• Volunteers more focussed on the community and helping others
• Primary reasons are personal and results are consistent across ALL coaches
• Secondary reasons show volunteers are more focussed on community concerns
• The most striking difference is how volunteers are less likely to feel supported by their Governing Body
• ALL coaches have similar development preferences
• Volunteers are more likely to place importance on informal learning
• Not surprisingly volunteers are more likely to stop coaching for system related reasons
One of the most interesting aspects of the day for me was to listen to other researchers talk about their work into volunteering in sport and not necessarily coaching. This provided a broader context for thinking about my data as I was able to make comparisons with findings about other types of volunteers (administrators, events organisers, officials).
Two areas that sprung to my mind when listening were:
Club and event volunteers have different motivations for doing what they do yet we often use events as a stepping stone to get people involved in coaching. Is this wise given that event volunteers are not motivated by the same things as coaches?
Many young people volunteer to improve their CV or make themselves more appealing to universities. As such they are less committed to their volunteering and will leave when they lose interest. Does this help explain the spike in coaching recruitment around the age of 17 and the fact that coaches under 35 are twice as likely to give up coaching?
These are just two questions that came to mind as I listened to other presentations but it shows the value of attending events such the Sports Volunteer Research Network. Anything that encourages you to look at your data afresh can only help improve understanding.