Why Won’t Coaches Learn Online?

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

It sounds so enticing…online coach training. Drills, streaming videos, quizzes, printable practice plans…everything a coach could ever need or want at his or her fingertips, just a high-speed internet connection away. Its a great theory, but one that fails to account for two things lacking in most volunteer coaches.

What are those two things? Time and Desire.

Before you discount this as an opinion from a biased point of view, please consider a couple of things: First, before there was any such thing on the market as online coach training, we had the idea. We were excited. We launched a site called CoachGuide with all of the bells and whistles, the drills, the practice plans, etc. We marketed it aggressively, even giving it away free to all coaches who wanted to gain additional knowledge. It was a huge bust.

Virtually no one took the course, even though it was user-friendly and full of great information. Now, with CoachDeck, we work with thousands of leagues around North America and get feedback from them as to why they love giving their coaches our decks of cards. And what we hear universally is what we learned the hard way when we were listening to crickets chirp at CoachGuide.

Volunteer coaches are just that – volunteers. They don’t get paid to do this. Yet we expect them to take valuable chunks of their schedules to become educated and prepared? A few will. And they’re the exception. The majority however just volunteered to coach because they wanted to spend some precious time with their kids or because nobody else was willing to do it. And there is nothing wrong with that. We need those folks. But after working at their real job all day, not many will come home, have dinner, put the kids to bed, and then say goodnight to their spouse and log onto a website and watch videos and tutorials. Most just don’t care enough about it.

Think of it this way. Ask anyone you know this question: “Want to spend hours online in a virtual classroom? Or would you rather play cards? Hoping our parent-volunteers will sequester themselves in front of a computer screen (or, for that matter, a coaching manual) and become experts, when they may only be planning to coach this one season and when they’re already devoting so much of their time, is unrealistic. We should simply expect that they are prompt to each practice and game, that they treat the kids well, and they set a positive example of sportsmanship and fair play. Anything else is a bonus.

And that’s where CoachDeck comes in. When coaches show up at practice straight from work they need something they can scan quickly while the kids are getting out of their parents cars. The fact is that if they had watched multiple videos the night before, trying to go from memory the next day they’d be more likely to get things wrong than right anyway. But with our deck of cards there is no guessing. They’re able to run drills that teach fundamental skills and can be made into games that kids love. With no experience, no extensive knowledge of the game and no “studying,” they can run a perfect practice.

The reason coaches prefer CoachDeck is it is not intimidating. In fact, it’s fun. A lot more fun than a username and password and a guy standing in front of a camera grimly explaining proper footwork. Hey, if they want to go online and become coaching experts, more power to them. The more education the better. But if we depend on them to all be as motivated as we are, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.

Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

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