Mastery Approach to Coaching: An Educational Program for Youth Sport Coaches
are fairly well versed in the technical aspects of sport skills
and strategies, but they rarely have any training in creating
a healthy psychological environment for athletes. In response
to this need, Drs. Frank L. Smoll and Ronald E. Smith have developed
and tested a sport psychology training program for coaches. Known
as the Mastery Approach to Coaching (MAC), this program is the
only scientifically validated coaching-education workshop that
has been shown to have the following effects:
- Teaches coaches how
to foster positive coach-athlete relations and greater mutual
- Increases the amount
of fun that athletes experience
- Creates greater team
cohesion and a more supportive athletic setting
- Increases athletes'
self-esteem and reduces performance-destroying anxiety and fear
- Significantly reduces
dropout rates in youth sport programs
- Promotes higher mastery-oriented achievement goals in school
What does the MAC program include?
During a workshop, coaching guidelines are presented verbally with the aid of animated PowerPoint slides. The principles are included in a workshop manual entitled Coaches Who Never Lose.
They stress a "positive approach" to influencing
athletes, which emphasizes the provision of reinforcement
for effort as well as performance, the giving of encouragement
after mistakes, and the desirability of giving technical instruction
in an encouraging and supportive fashion. Coaches are urged to
decrease punitive behaviors, which produce stress and decrease
enjoyment of the sport experience. Instruction is given in how
to (a) correct athlete mistakes, (b) increase communication skills,
(c) develop a team-oriented approach to maintaining order and
discipline, and (d) deal with violations of team rules. Behavioral
feedback and self-monitoring techniques are taught as ways for
improving coaches' self-awareness and compliance with the guidelines.
In addition, group-learning exercises are used
to cover other topics, such as keeping winning in a healthy perspective,
combating fear of failure, and working cooperatively with parents. A MAC workshop lasts 75 minutes when offered on weeknights, and a 2-hour version is available for weekends.
How does MAC compare with other coaching-education programs?
In an article evaluating
video-based programs (ACEP, NYSCA) and MAC, the authors (Drs.
Brown and Butterfield) concluded that "The Mastery Approach to Coaching is the most convincingly
documented program in theory and research-proven effectiveness.
MAC guarantees quality instruction because the developers
conduct each training session themselves" (American Journal
of Diseases in Childhood).
Where have MAC workshops been presented?
The program has been
applied widely in the United States and Canada. More than 24,000
youth sport coaches have participated in some 450 workshops to
date. MAC has also been conducted in school districts as part
of inservice training for PE teachers and coaches. Although optimal
attendance is 50-150 coaches, workshops have been conducted with
as few as 20 and as many as 1,200 coaches.
Do you want to know more about MAC?
In addition to information
about the availability and financing of MAC, the following materials
can be obtained by contacting Dr. Frank Smoll (firstname.lastname@example.org):
- Overview of MAC and
newspaper articles describing the program
- Workshop outline
- Sample flyers used
to advertise the program in various communities