Coaches’ Attitudes Towards Sport Coaching Education

In the United States, sport coaches especially youth coaches have been terribly underserved in the area of training.  It is estimated that less than 5% of youth sport coaches have taken any formal training to prepare them to be successful youth coaches.  Unfortunately, there has not been much research in this area to find out why.  There are many anecdotal reasons shared about this ranging from —“it will scare away potential volunteers as they don’t have the time” to “who will pay for the training?”

The Institute for Sport Coaching has been doing its part to close this knowledge gap. Since the Institute started offering coaching education workshops in the greater Boston area in 2007, we have been surveying the coaches who attend our workshops to gauge their interest in coaching education, and of course gain their feedback on the training we provided them.  As of January 1, 2011, our survey results have found:Coaches' Attitudes

Overall Feedback

“…the workshop was useful for me.”

Agree  — 90%

“…plan to use the skills & concepts I learned.”

Agree — 88%

“…interested in additional training.”

Yes — 97%

Written comments augment the survey results.  Some of the more positive comments from our surveys are:

  • “Overall – great!  Very informative, practical information.”
  • “The interactive portions of the training are really helpful.”
  • “…you provided great advice and strategy in coaching.”
  • “I wanted to add my heartfelt thanks.  I found your presentation very interesting and thought-provoking!”
  • “I did learn a lot of new ideas to help me make coaching fun this year.”
  • “This should happen every year.”

Of interest to the Institute’s leadership, and moreover to sport administrators nationwide, is how our survey compares to others.

In 2004, a study of coaches’ perceptions of continuing coaching education was conducted on a group of 366 youth sport coaches in the San Antonio, Texas area by Professor Vargas-Tonsing from the University of Texas-San Antonio.  The results of that study are as follows:


Question to Coaches Yes No Undecided
Do you plan on pursuing further coaching education? 46% 16% 38%
Do you plan on pursuing further coaching education online? 42% 26% 32%
Are you more likely to pursue coaching education if it is available online? 67% 26% 32%
Is coaching education important? 97% 1% 2%
Should coaches be expected to pursue continuing education? 54% 32% 14%

Table 1. Coaches’ Perception of Continuing Coaching Education.

Source:  Survey of 366 coaches from Kids Sports Network by Prof. Vargas-Tonsing, Univ of Texas San Antonio, 2005.

Back in the early 1990s, the National Youth Sports Research and Development Center at Eastern Kentucky University undertook a study of over 700 youth sport coaches who where members of the National Youth Sport Coaches Association (NYSCA). The results are similar to those found by Prof. Vargas-Tonsing—overall coaches desired coaching education.


Percent of Coaches Question
67% Paying a fee would not be discouraging
72% Mandatory coaching education encouraged them to continue
85% Prefer a league that requires training
85% Believe that training increases skill and confidence
86% Would attend training even if not required

Table 2. Coaching Education Survey.

Source: National Youth Sports Research and Development Center, 2000.


Further research is definitely needed in this area.  As one knows with statistical analysis, it all depends on the validity of the population surveyed.  On both of these surveys and the ones conducted by the Institute, all the coaches have attended coaching education programs.  What is needed is research among a more general population especially through groups that do not make coaching education mandatory.