There are as many concepts of coaching as there are different types of athletiscs, but the teaching of athletics skills is a constant in all of them. The most common concept and a rather narrow one, limits its meaning to instruction in athltetic skills and play. However, when school officials began to recognize the educational values accruing from athletic experiences under the direction of high school coaches, interscholastic coaching began to acquirea broader meaning, that is, that high school students were being taught to become better persons through athletics. Thus interscholastic athletics came to be considered supplementary to the curriculum and if so, coaching by certificated persons must be viewed as teaching.
If we accept John Ruskin theory, which has never been disputed, that education does not mean just teaching an individual what he or she does not now know, but that it does mean teaching the individual to behave as he or she does not now behave, the intersholastic coach is in a significant position to teach.
It is necessary that we clearly understand the three general areas of learning to realize fully what coaching includes. These are knowledge, fixed associations (automatic physical and mental skills) and emotional patterns. Their interaction becomes the controls of conduct that cause each of us to behave as we do.
The attainment of knowledge involves acquiring and organizing information essential in arriving at an understanding that can be applied. Coaching affords numerous opportunities to impart knowledge. An understanding of the rules applied in athletic games is one example. Knowing the standars of eligibility and the school's policies and the reasons for them is another. Becoming aware how others will react in rudimentary knowledge of psychology important to both players and coaches. These are only three illustrations of knowledge that can be taught by coaching, in which we shall give our attention to the methods and techniques of coaching.
Fixed associations comprise a well-recognized portion of the responsibilities of coaching. These are the automatic responses we acquire when we learn to execute mental and physical skills. To become fixed they must be practiced and repeated until we perform them automatically. Learning multiplication tables is one of the best examples of mental fixed associations, which generally involve memory in some form. Coaching does not involve any large number of fixed mental associations but is greatly concerned with the development of large number of automatic physical skills.
No other field of teaching offers more occasions to develop emotional learning than does coaching. Emotional learning are those to which a feeling is attached, such as ideals, attitudes, tastes, appreciation, respect, loyalty, sportmanship, and desires. Coaches can and must teach an understanding of them and their importance in every day life. Ensuring that athletes practice them in interscholastic competition will help to instill them as important controls of conduct. Many advances have been made in the teaching of knowledge and skills, but the teaching of emotional learning lags considerably in the school program. This is regrettable because it is our emotions that frequently determine the purposes for which we use our knowledge and skills.
Successful coaches are those who understand what they are trying to teach and who make adequate plans to teach it. Every teacher, including coaches, should establish specific objectives to be attained in each of three learning areas.