Comprehensive Coaching

June 05, 2019

If you’ve participated in sports at any level, you’ve likely encountered a coach who inspired you to be a better athlete, a better team player, or a better student. “How,” you may have wondered, “did they know the right things to do?” 

Students wanting to coach individual and team youth sports will find a comprehensive approach in PHE 202 Coaching Methods. It combines sports and science with elements of the social sciences to provide a solid foundation for the coaching and administration of youth programs from prekindergarten through high school.

 “The majority of students in the course want to be youth coaches, although we’ve have had 9 former students go on to coach in college and many at the high school level,” says Tim Hollibaugh, associate professor of physical education.

Flexibility and Diversity

Students learn the rules of major sports and then team with peers to conduct mini-clinics on skills such as post moves in basketball, situational hitting in baseball, and even Frisbee throwing. They also guide Grinnell preschoolers through simple games and activities for physical well-being.

“We talk about navigating a budget and setting up a recreational league in addition to leadership, discipline, working in teams — fundamentals that translate to academics and the professional world,” Hollibaugh says.

Other sections of the course focus on respecting the thoughts and opinions of others and promoting open dialogue among participants representing different cultures, values that Hollibaugh says are “ingrained in the sports we teach at Grinnell.”

Students who complete the course receive a coaching endorsement from the American Sport Education Program, the basic licensure accepted in most states.

Theory into Practice

Daria Guzzo ’19, a team captain for Grinnell women’s basketball in the 2018–19 season, says she’s gaining an understanding of theoretical concepts as well as new perspectives on issues and challenges athletic teams face.

“Coach Hollibaugh prompts us to think about our experiences and the coaches we’ve had, because there are so many types of coaching methods and no perfect way to coach,” Guzzo says. “Getting outside our ‘player’s’ mindset and into the coach’s has been interesting.”

Guzzo says switching between coaching toddlers and college athletes provides insight into how working with different age groups relates to the motivation and objectives for coaching.

“The course prepares us very well for challenges that come on the field, on the practice field, and off the field as an administrator,” Guzzo says.

Preparation for Life and Career

A political science and Spanish double major, Guzzo says the course supports her career goal of working in international relations while volunteering as a youth coach.

“There are a lot of lessons that apply to work life and social life; it’s a great social skills class,” Guzzo says. “I’m really gaining a lot from it.”

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