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I was going through some of my old Track and Field News magazines and came across a gem of an article in the May 2010 edition. The article was titled, "Lewis and Tellez Worried About Coaching Knowledge." The article is very short and to the point, and you can read it below. It’s nice to hear a top athlete and coach express their concerns that too many elite and very gifted athletes are coaching who really should not be. A short and simple must read:
Lewis & Tellez Worried about Coaching Knowledge
In our examination for the U.S.’s current field-event woes, Mac Wilkins lamented about the dearth of technical knowledge among the nations' coaches.
Legend Carl Lewis recently expressed similar sentiments in Houston's school paper, the Daily Cougar. "What's really killing the sport is all these (athletes) who are retiring and coaching the next year. They really do not have the background. They’re not qualified," Lewis said. "You need to have more than ‘I ran and I was good’. You don’t just need to know how to do workouts to be a coach. You need to understand physiology; how the body works…in our sport we have athletes retire and two years later, they’re coaching the best athletes in the world.”
Lewis’s long time mentor, former Houston head coach Tom Tellez, agrees. "If you don't have a background, you better do some studying," he said. "If you run, that helps, but you still have to know the biomechanics of running."
Just because an athlete once raced professionally or was of elite status does not mean they have knowledge and understanding of the physiology and biomechanics that go into the sport they are coaching. You can’t discount their experience, but just because a ceratin approach worked for them does not mean it will work for everyone. Many athletes seek out coaches who were once professional or very gifted athletes, but again, this does not mean these former athletes truly understand the physiology and biomechanics that go into their respective sport.
Seeking out education is a great thing for coaches, but they must seek out forms of education that are well researched and up to date. It's amazing how many coaching and personal certifications are available to the general public. Many of the course manuals and speakers associated with these certifications lack the updated research, coaching knowledge, and overall quality that hardworking and knowledge-hungry coaches and athletes deserve. In the coaching and personal training fields alone, there are more than 720 certifications available to anyone who wants to become a coach or personal trainer. These certifications require no degree and 99% of them do not require experience. All you need to be is 18 years old - no experience, no educational background.
I’m very thankful that as I was finishing my degree and taking one of these so-called certifications 10 years ago, I started to question everything, including the validity of the recent certification classes I had taken. I thank the many mentors I had, such as Dr. Phil Skiba, Jeff Wood MPT, and Dr. Robert Sterner, for giving me the tools to question everything from a scientific perspective. Dr. Skiba always says, "Science will not have all the answers, but start with the known." Lewis and Tellez hit it on the head, and they don’t even have a science-based background and are both legends in their field. Let's hope their opinions are taken seriously and that athletes seeking out coaches will follow their advice. The above article was a breath of fresh air when I read it, because to hear former Olympian and 10 time medal winner Carl Lewis and coach Tom Tellez (former Houston Cougars head Track and Field Coach for 22 years) second my own beliefs on this subject was very gratifying. If you're not familiar with Carl or Tom, I would highly suggest you look them up!
"Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death." Albert Einstein
- Coach Jason Kilderry