People have been debating the benefits of qualifications and experience for years. We often see someone highly-qualified compare their lack of experience with someone who is highly-experienced and relatively unqualified.
The world is more educated than it's ever been before. And many jobs are requiring more qualifications than they ever have in the past.
One example? Personal trainers. While the go-to qualification for a personal trainer used to be a short TAFE course, many are now receiving university degrees.
This is so they can be better informed and more qualified than those who do a short TAFE course. But some would argue that the TAFE course is preferable due to the shorter study period and more practical on-the-job training.
When a person is experienced at a certain task, they'll not only complete it faster but it'll be easier. An experienced coach will find it easier to teach certain skills compared to someone who is fairly new to coaching but has the qualifications to be at the same level on paper.
We can see this when observing an experienced coach who has been in the field since a young age coaching representative or association football. Not only will they be able to explain a drill quicker, but they'll also be able to grasp the players' attention faster. They won’t stutter and will have run hundreds of sessions in the past. That means they'll know exactly what they want to achieve and how they'll go about it.
Experience generally commands respect from players. But when an assistant coach or an intern steps in, the difference in behaviour is obvious from the start. When players know that it isn’t the same coach running the session, they often start misbehaving and won't follow instructions.
Compare this to a flowing, informational training session, where a player has genuinely learnt something new- whether it be a psychological trait such as R.A.I.S.E.D.I.T, a new skill, or a technical component like playing out from the back.
Qualified coaches are those who (like many experienced coaches), have completed one or more advanced coaching licenses. These licenses are nationally and internationally recognised and can take an average of 10 years from start to finish. However, not only may these new coaches have their first license, they often also have a university degree as well.
If a coach has completed an exercise science or psychology/ teaching degree, the range of knowledge can be hugely helpful. This can be an edge for more qualified coaches because laws and practices are always changing in football. And so is the standards when working with children and techniques for reaching a mutual respect between player and coach.
The Answer? Qualifications + Experience
Through my personal experience of just entering the coaching field and aiming to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible, I love working at Kikoff.
Not only do we have new coaches who have just finalised their licenses and now have the vast knowledge that accredited coaches have, but we also have those who have the experience of completing a range of licenses. These coaches support our ideas and also help us improve them through prior knowledge.
Gaining this insight into how some of the higher technical coaches think is crucial for development for youth level players. However, I believe that combining on-the-job experienced with a university qualification to add further knowledge is the way forward for Australian football.
This is already being implemented overseas, with coaches and managers having a background in either psychology degrees, teaching degrees or sport science degrees. And it's easy to see the huge impact on the how the team can be run and how training can be improved.
Finally, while working for Kikoff, I’m learning both the practical aspects of coaching, and how to apply the theory I learnt on my youth coaching license and at university. This helps me see the links and know that what I’m being taught is key to a successful future in Australian football development.