Canada Basketball invests in coach education

More and more Canadians are interested in basketball these days, which means there will be an increased demand for quality coaches in the years to come. With this in mind, Canada Basketball has spent the past two decades carefully developing a standardized coach education process based on Sport for Life’s Long-Term Development (LTD) principles, with each course based on an age and stage of the framework.

And it’s starting to bear fruit.

“With such a big country, quality control can be a problem,” said Dawn Smyth, Director of Domestic Development with Basketball Canada.

“But now we’ve now created one training point where educators from across the country can come to our super clinic and we have our master learning facilitators leading the training.”

This is just one way the organization is attempting to standardize coaching in clubs and schools across the country. The goal of the exercise is to get fledgling coaches from different provinces together in one place, having the same experience, so that when they return to their communities it will be with a unified message. With 20,000 coaches in their system, receiving their monthly Game Plan newsletters and attending their professional development opportunities, it’s a big job to keep track of them all.

“We deliver through a platform called Game Plan, and with it the national body can oversee the interactions with the coaches and see what they’re interested in, what kind of support they need. We want to make sure there’s no obstacles, and that no coach is caught somewhere in the system, because there’s a lot of volunteers and parents who are eager to learn.”

Sport for Life’s Director of Quality Sport Carolyn Trono appreciates how the LTD stages have been incorporated into the Canada Basketball NCCP clinic names, really driving home the importance of skill priorities within the stage.

“It’s a reminder to the coaches to remember who their athletes are. Connecting to the Canada Basketball Athlete Development Matrix, growth and development is at the forefront of coach education development and the NCCP,” Trono said.

“The physical, technical and tactical skills are identified, and just as important are the social/emotional elements, life skills and psychological attributes. All are addressed in a developmentally appropriate way.”

She also likes the emphasis on fun.

“Fun is a key to keeping athletes in sport and the basketball coaches participating in these courses are provided with solid information on setting up environments for athletes’ learning based on their developmental age. The approach reaches right down to the community basketball programs.”

It was in 1998 that Basketball Canada first attempted to implement the six stages of long-term development into their coaching education across the country. Since then they’ve seen thrilling results, including a record of 6 NBA draft picks in the first round in 2019 and hundreds of athletes playing in the top international professional leagues and in the NCAA.

But they’re not resting on their laurels. Canada Basketball’s next steps include making coach certification mandatory, ensuring that each province signs on to their vision, and improving communication and record-keeping.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be a basketball coach,” she said.

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