In the fouth installment in this blog series I want to examine some of the more eye-opening aspects of the trip…the things I learned that defied some of my pre-conceived notions. The ‘Myth Busters’ if you will. Here are just a few:
- Myth: German Track and Field Coaches are developed, regarded, and paid as true professionals.
- Reality: This was the case in the DDR prior to the reunification of East and West Germany but now only a very select few coaches are paid enough to make a living and most choose to do coaching as a hobby rather than a career. Most club coaches make less than the average high school coach in the U.S.
- Myth: China and Germany have extensive talent identification programs that hunt down and find the greatest talent in the nation.
- Reality: Neither country actually tracks down talent at all. There are no talent hunters going around the country side turning over all stones to measure, weigh and test every 6 year old for future potential in a given sport. In fact, in most sports, the future athletes of the national team are discovered in much the same way as they are in the United States. The children willingly participate in sport (or are made to by their parents) and if they are successful they compete at the City or Provincial level where they may be discovered and asked to train at provincial or national training centers (several of which are located where I stayed). According to the two coaches from Germany, the same applies there as well with the only difference being that they have a local club system instead of a city and provincial system for rising athletes.
- Myth: All Chinese coaches are comprehensive experts in their field.
- Reality: Many Chinese provincial coaches have very limited knowledge of current ideas in training theory and sport sciences.
- Myth: Sport science is tightly integrated with coaching in China and Germany.
- Reality: As a practicing sport scientist and coach in the U.S. it can sometimes be frustrating to see how little integration there can be between sport scientists and coaches, even when they are specifically paired together as a team. I was disappointed but slightly relieved to know that there is at least as big of a disjoint between the sport scientists and coaches in these two countries as well.
So there are a couple myths broken down. Perhaps they were just my own preconceived notions of those two respective sport systems but I know there are quite a few others who had the same thinking. Post questions and comments to the forum.