The Future of Coaching

Project PEAK Symposium
07/11/2019 16:13

The first PEAK - Policy, Evidence and Knowledge in Coaching - Symposium was held in Limerick, Ireland on 14th June 2019 and was organised by Sport Coaching Ireland. It was the first multiplier sport event held as a part of the PEAK project, an international collaboration aiming to develop coaching policy recommendations for use by sport federations, coaching bodies and governments.

Three speakers addressed the issues related to coaching and coaching policies.


Karen Petry, representing the German Sport University Cologne, presented an overview of first results of the research currently running in the project. The preliminary results include two country profiles, namely Germany and France. According to Petry, there is no specific law for sport or coaching but there is a formal distinction between coach and trainer in Germany. Sport system is overseen by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) with more than 90,000 local sport clubs. Interestingly, there is a perceived lack of recognition for coaches. The French system is very formalised and professionalised. All coaches are required to have a qualification. A Professional Certificate is the bare minimum, whereas a more advanced Diplome is usually required for advanced positions. All coaches must be qualified, irrespective of the sport. That means that coaching has limited accessibility, but coaches who do work are generally highly qualified.


Hayley Harrison, representing Sport Ireland Coaching, gave a presentation highlighting the scale and responsibility levels of volunteer female coaches in Ireland. Statistics show that female coaches are less represented in coaching with the increase of the level of coaching. At the Introductory levels their representation is 36.5% whereas at the elite levels less than 5% of all coaches are female. Those female coaches who do have an ambition to progress beyond their level of coaching, are often hindered by current structures. The presenter saw the solution for coaching in Ireland in the provision and training for coaching as a profession and the adoption of EU rules on volunteering.


Richard Bailey, representing ICSSPE, delivered a presentation which offered simple ways to separate scientific from non-scientific practices, suggesting that sports organisations take active steps to base their practice on the best available evidence. He also recommended that training courses for coaches and coach educators need to teach how evidence based research can be identified. Finally, he suggested to create an independent body which would critically asses the quality of ideas based on well established scientific criteria.


Participation in the Symposium as well as informal conversations during the event reinforced the partnership’s confidence that coaching policies are an important and necessary topic to address.


Funded by the European Union ERASMUS+ programme, the PEAK project brings together a consortium of expert partners including the International Council for Coaching Excellence, German Sport University, European Elite Athletes Association, Finnish Olympic Committee, Sport Ireland Coaching, Swiss Federal Institute of Sport and the Foundation of Sport Education and Information, Estonia.  The project is led by ICSSPE.


Uniquely, PEAK will offer a comprehensive portrait of coaching and coach education across Europe and beyond. It will inform the industry about coaching roles, responsibilities, and status, as well as policies, programmes and decision-making processes. The project will also report on strategies to increase opportunities for women in coaching and enhance the effectiveness of good governance measures, such as transparency of decision-making, democratic and inclusive decision-making processes, in the practice of sport coaching.