2009 Program News

10/19/09: Class Sessions Excite Discussion Among ICECP Coaches

discNo student wants to be lectured to for an entire day. Especially when they are in class for upwards of eight hours a day and even more so when those days span from mid-Sept to the end of Oct.

As national-level coaches and qualified experts in their own right, each ICECP coach brings a wealth of knowledge, opinion and experience to the table. And at both the University of Delaware and the US Olympic Training Center, presenters recognize and embrace that.

With every topic presented comes a flurry of questions, personal experiences, opinions and discussion. Nearly every guest lecturer has invoked conversation between themselves and the participants.

At UD, several sessions especially excited the participation of the coaches. Dr. Kristine Clark’s sport nutrition presentation was a veritable back-and-forth of situation- and sport- specific questions that lasted well over three hours. Talks on strength training in adolescents and long-term athlete development also raised the level of interaction in the classroom.

That interaction took the lecturing out of the presentations and made them even more beneficial by addressing specific concerns.

Practical sessions at UD also got the coaches’ brains firing on all cylinders. Weight room sessions on strength and conditioning and the prevention of low back injuries allowed the coaches to try out new techniques first-hand and get sport-specific help.

After their apprenticeships, the coaches returned to the classroom upon arriving at the USOTC. From the start, they have involved themselves in the class sessions by not just listening and taking notes, but sharing and exploring.

Along with questions relative to their sport or teams, they share stories from their experiences. Nearly every coach in the program has brought a topic-related experience into discussion during a presentation.  

This sharing allows the coaches to learn from one another. They see how to handle similar situations, how they can act differently and what to do in case something like what they hear about happens to them. They are also learning from different sports and points of view, allowing them to become more knowledgeable and well-rounded as sport administrators in their national federations and Olympic committees.

When Sean McCann and Kirsten Peterson, both senior sport psychologists in the USOC Sport Performance division, presented on motivation and mental preparation for athletes and coaches, it invoked some serious discussion in the classroom and out of it.

At the start of McCann’s presentation he welcomed questions and discussion from the participants, as every guest lecturer has. He also invited the coaches to disagree with him and share their own opinion and experiences.

Throughout his presentation, the coaches shared their personal sport stories and feelings on athlete mdiscotivation and the use of sport psychology. They shared what worked for them and through interaction, learned new techniques that they can apply directly to their situations.

Some of the points made in those discussions riled up intense conversation amongst the class’ attendees outside the classroom as well. Nabil Elalem (the technical director of judo in Libya), Michael Faddoul (the national junior boxing coach in Dominica), Ernest Selva (a competitor in vale tudo, which is similar to mixed martial arts) and Matt Volpe (a former collegiate wrestler) had an hour-long discussion on sportsmanship, motivation and personal experiences in combat sports.

The discussion and interaction that each presentation creates among the participants has been “the most important thing,” said Ian Weithers, Barbados’ national judo senior team head coach, while at UD.  “After each lecture, we had group discussions about what was happening in each others’ countries related to that topic.”