ICCE, in conjunction with the Universade Federal do Paraná and the Brazilian Ministry of Sport, delivered the fourth edition of Global Coaches House and the first ever South American Coaching Summit in Rio de Janeiro during the 9th, 10th and 11th of August. The event brought together a terrific line-up of speakers and over 200 coaches, coach developers and sport administrators from 10 different countries to share their knowledge and discuss the future of coaching.

The event opened at Casa Brasil in the heart of the Olympic Boulevard on Tuesday 9th August with the presence of representatives from all partner institutions and an inspiring intervention by Olympic Solidarity Senior Manager Yassine Yousfi. Mr Yousfi highlighted the fundamental role coaches play in the development of sport and the personal growth of athletes and emphasise the commitment of the IOC to support coaches world-wide.

It was then the legendary Brazilian volleyball coach Marco Lerbach’s turn to address the audience. Marco’s focused was on the importance of, as a coach, having a strong vision and a long-term plan for how athletes will be developed from grassroots to the Olympics with special emphasis on the transition from junior to senior sport as a key ‘make or break’ moment. He also said: ‘no nation gets to the top of a sport without a solid foundation of good coaches; no good coaches, no good athletes’.

The day continued with a panel discussion which included Olympic medallist Natalia Falavigna (taekwondo; Brazil), Adam Pengilly (Skeleton; Great Britain) and Finnish Olympic Team Counsellor Leena Huovinen who discussed the perspective of the athlete competing at the Olympic Games. The speakers stressed the importance of treating both athletes and coaches as people and never forgetting that they are not machines or ‘just sportspeople’. The director of the IOC’s Athlete Commission, former Olympic medallist in fencing, Claudia Bokel followed with a description of the various programmes the IOC has in place to support athletes and coaches from grassroots to elite sport.

The last two speakers of the day were Dr. Randy Wilber, Senior Physiologist for the US Olympic Committee, and Senior Research Fellow for Leeds Beckett University and ICCE, Sergio Lara-Bercial. Randy presented the Team USA approach to combating the all-important topic of athlete overtraining and underperformance. The key message stemming from Randy’s talk was that we need to pay as much attention to recovery and regeneration strategies as we do to training; that in fact, recovery is an essential part of training. Sergio closed this section of the event by presenting the results of a major international study conducted by the ICCE and its Innovation Group of Leading Agencies looking into the personalities, practices and developmental pathways of Olympic Serial Winning Coaches. Sergio focused on three key themes of Vision, People and Environment and allowed the participants time to reflect on their own practice and develop an action plan for development.

The day finished with Marcia Cristina Goncalves de Souza from the Brazilian Anti-Doping Agency (ABCD) who offered a comprehensive overview of ABCD’s programmes, specifically their efforts not only to police, but to educate athletes and coaches alike.

Day 2 got off to an incredible start with former pole vault world-record holder and chair of the IOC’s Athlete’s Entourage Commission, Mr Sergey Bubka, addressing a packed auditorium about the primary role of the coach in guiding an athlete’s career, both at a personal and at a professional level. Mr Bubka gave all plenty of food for thought for the coaches in the room with statements such as ‘my coach became my second father’, ‘I was not a zombie, my coach taught me to think for myself’ and ‘the coach is an artist sculpting the personality of the athlete’. Straight after, Finn Kirwan, High Performance Director for the US Olympic Committee, provided a case study around US Swimming to illustrate what it takes to develop a high performance culture in a given sport. He described seven principles and six high performance best practices that have allowed US Swimming to succeed repeatedly. Finn stressed the need to ‘build a community of excellence’ and the fact that ‘you can’t buy culture, you have to build it’.

Similar to day 1, and athlete panel including legends such as Alexander Popov (Swimming; Russia), James Tomkins (Rowing; Australia) and Robson Caetano Da Silva (Athletics; Brazil) discussed the ideal environment for the development of high performance. They were again accompanied by Leena Huovinen from Finland. In the same fashion as the previous day, the panellist agreed that a key element to developing a high performance culture is the humanisation of both athlete and coach whereby they recognise each other’s strengths and areas for improvement as well as their feelings and personal needs outside sport. In addition, there was also an emphasis on the need for coaches to accept and embrace that coaching at the elite level requires a broad range of skills. These go well beyond what we traditional think of as coaching. James Tomkins put it this way: ‘You can be just a coach… or you can be a leader. We need more leaders’.

It was then Sergio Lara-Bercial’s turn again to, using the findings from the Serial Winning Coaches study, give the coaches a chance to reflect on how the environments they create and their practices are contributing to the creation of a winning culture. Sergio identified five key areas of emphasis: high expectations and demands; a challenging training environment; no stone unturned; reliability and stability; and the ability of the coach to influence up.

The day finished on a high with a strong and uplifting presentation by University of Calgary Dean, Team Canada Sport Psychology consultant and former Olympian, Dr Penny Werthner. Penny spoke about the importance of the coach-athlete relationship in the development of a culture of excellence. She illustrated it with five case studies of successful Canadian athletes she has worked with in the past in a variety of sports.

The final day of the event was reserved for the inaugural South American Coaching Summit. The Summit brought together representatives from countries in the region to explore current practices in coach development and future challenges. The day opened with a very insightful presentation by Professor Fernando Mezzadri of Universidade Federal do Paraná. Fernando spoke about the very ambitious ongoing Sport Intelligence project which is creating and information management systems for the high performance sport environment in Brazil. He was followed by ICCE Research Committee members Larissa Galatti (Universidade do Campinas, Brazil) Sergio Lara-Bercial (Leeds Beckett University, UK) who offered an overview of global developments in coach education and development in terms of ICCE policy documents and resources as well as specific examples from different countries and sports.

The second half of the day focused on providing examples of coach education in a number of different countries. Michel Milistedt (Universidade Federal do Santa Catalina, Brazil), José Curado (Universidade Lusofona Lisboa, Portugal), Gonzalo Bravo (West Virginia University, USA) and Lorraine Lafrenière (Coaches Association of Canada) offered their view on the coaching systems in Brazil, Portugal, Chile and Canada respectively. The day concluded with a rousing exploration of the role of academic institutions in supporting the development of coaches by Professor André Rodacki of Universidade Federal do Paraná. André argued that universities and federations need to work closer to maximise synergies and potential and that the time to see academia and practitioners as two opposing forces has come to an end.

All in all, a fantastic three days in a fantastic city in the middle of a fantastic event such as the Olympic Games. ICCE would like to thank all partners, the Brazilian Ministry of Sport, the Universidade Federal do Paraná and Casa Brasil for their unwavering commitment to the event and for the professionalism and determination of their staff before and during the event. For ever in your debt! 

For more information and presentations from the event, please visit www.globalcoacheshouse.net

Coaching Council

The ECC is a formally established continental body for Europe of the International Council for Coaching Excellence.