Coaching Association of Canada

The Question of Coach Recognition

December 6, 2011

On November 19, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced that they had created a coach reward program for Olympic podium performances.  Starting with the London 2012 Olympic Games, coaches of a gold medallist will receive $10,000, silver medallists - $7,500, and bronze medallists - $5,000, all per sport discipline.

The timing of this announcement was very interesting, as only that week we had been discussing coach recognition on our Facebook page.  I had asked: “Curious why it is that when an athlete wins a medal, the coach isn't always recognized as well?” and our fans chipped in with some great feedback, including:

“Most coaches I know, myself included, understand that it’s the athlete who deserves the fanfare.  (You) can’t coach well, much less (coach) to a medal winning end, if you don’t (have) a willing, hardworking, coachable athlete.” – Jacy Jean.

Chris Patterson put it well when he stated: “Coach recognition can take many forms.  I coach at the community level and recognition comes from parents who appreciate that coaching takes a lot of time and say thank you every week.  Recognition comes when your players want to play well each game, and feel bad when they don’t (without me saying a word).  The greatest recognition I ever received, beyond any medal or trophy, came when I coached U5 soccer.  After the last game of the season, one of the players came up to me, gave me a hug, and said thank you.”

It has been my experience in interviewing and talking with coaches over the years that most of them do prefer to be in the background, getting their recognition through the success of their athletes.  But I guess the question is whether or not that’s enough.  I think at the community level, where the demands on a coach’s time are perhaps not as much, or where the coach is not working full-time in that role, that the monetary rewards are probably not as important.  But will these new coach rewards make a difference to retaining the coaches who work at the national team, high-performance level?  Many of our top coaches have left Canada to work in other countries – including Paralympic champion Chantal Petitclerc who just announced this past week that she is leaving Canada to work with UK Athletics.  She’s going to work with her former coach Peter Eriksson – would he have stayed in Canada if this program had been in place for Beijing?

What do YOU think?  How will this latest announcement affect coaches in Canada?  Do you think more coaches will want to become national team coaches because of it?  Do you think they will stick around for longer as a result?  Or is it all just icing on the cake?  Let us know!

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