Coaching Association of Canada

Coaching the Snowboard Coach

January 17, 2012

A defining moment in the great movie The Lion King is when the father proudly holds his new son into the light for all to see the completed circle of life. The ‘circle of life’ in snowboard coaching is a new concept which I was thrilled to really experience this month. Snowboard coaching has gone through a long transition over the past 20+ years since things were first formalized. The first ‘snowboard coaches’ were trained instructors, talented at teaching others to learn to snowboard, who would also work with the small pool of snowboard athletes competing at the time and assist them in improving. At this time, most athletes in the ‘new sport’ of snowboarding did not have coaches and would travel to events independently. As the level of competition rose, athletes started to look to others for support and coaching has continued to evolve over the past many years.

Still, during the last decade, most snowboard coaches had little background in being coached as a snowboard athlete themselves since when they were competing, coaching was still a new concept. As the quality of coach education increased, so did the level of commitment required to be a coach. What we have now, is a strong pool of educated and committed coaches working with all levels of athletes.

While facilitating a Competition – Introduction course last month, I was able to see what our next generation of snowboard coaches will look like. They are well educated, former competitive snowboard athletes who have been coached in the sport for years. These new coaches not only understand snowboarding, but they know what it’s like to be coached and are now interested in being coaches themselves. I was able to watch as another facilitator trained a former athlete he had coached for over ten years. When making references to 13-year-old athletes, they were able to talk about when this coach was only 13 and was traveling to their first snowboard events.

As a facilitator, the job becomes even more satisfying when you are coaching concepts and the candidates say, ‘OH, that’s why we always had to do that,’ and instantly, they understand at a deep level. They are hungry for the information and spend three straight days looking for more rather than asking when the course is done. Since they are used to being coached, they take to this new role quickly and enjoy both delivering coaching concepts, as well as continuing to learn, and apply these concepts to their own skill sets.

It is a simple cycle that many sports likely take for granted, but as coached athletes turn into coaches themselves, I see our sport taking another great step forward with the level and understanding of coaching in Canada.

Check out this easy to implement coaching tip applicable to all snow sports from snowboard coach Brian Smith. Brian is head coach at Snowboard Firm in Quebec. He is an NCCP Certified coach, Master Learning Facilitator and Master Evaluator, and member of the Canadian Snowboard Coaching Program Tech Committee for Canada Snowboard.

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