Akuva – Coach Development Program

Akuva is a coach development program developed and directed by Harri Mannonen. The fourth edition was run during the season 2018–19.  The program was organized by Kouvola Sports Academy for coaches from different sports.

How an Organization Benefits from a Coach Development Program

  • Organizations try to create a competitive edge against other organizations.
  • A coach development program may help to do that.
  • The program should  be distinctly different from the coach education provided by the national federation – otherwise no competitive edge is created.
  • A program such as Akuva may help to find coherent development methods for coaches and players.

What Akuva May Do for Coaches

  • Improve coaches’ effectiveness – in the short run and in the long run.
  • Enhance the motivation to coach and to develop as coaches.
  • Enhance co-operation between the coaches in the organisation.
  • Help to establish a coach development plan for each individual coach.

Theoretical Background of Akuva

  • Akuva is short for Ajattele Kuin Valmentaja, or Think Like a Coach.
  • The proceedings are based on relevant scientific literature on coach development.
  • The name and the idea for Akuva was originally based on the training program Think Like a Commander (TLAC) developed by the U.S. Army Reseach Institute.
  • The first Akuva program was run with basketball coaches of Kouvot in 2010–11.
  • The second edition in 2013–14 was a part of my MSc studies at the University of Worcester. The participants were basketball coaches from Loimaan Korikonkarit / Bisons.
  • The third edition in 2017–18 was for for coaches from multiple sports at Kouvola Sports Academy .

Three Types of Akuva Interventions

  1. Joint sessions.
  2. One-on-one with the Director.
  3. Visiting Other Participants.

During the 2018–19 Akuva only the joint sessions were done.

Joint sessions

  • During the course of Akuva 2018–19, the participants got together eight times. Each session lasted for three hours.
  • These sessions took place once a month September through April.
  • In each session we discussed three to four themes.
  • Before each discussion, there was a brief introduction to the subject.
  • Most of the introductions were delivered by Harri Mannonen.
  • Sometimes there was also a guest speaker, sometimes one of the introductions was done by an Akuva participant.
  • After the introductions there were lively group discussions. There each participant could consider how the new ideas might affect his own coaching – even in the very next practice.

One-on-one with the Director

  • The coaches have one-on-one talks with Harri Mannonen at least twice (after the first joint session and after the last one).
  • A personalised coach education plan and career plan are put together.
  • The coach education plan may include coach education provided by the national federation but also other types of education, both domestic and international.
  • Additionally, Harri Mannonen will visit at least two practices run by the participant.

Visiting Other Participants

  • During Akuva each participant will visit two practices run by another coach.
  • Also, each coach will have a visiting colleague at two of his practices.
  • After each practice, the coach and the visitor will discuss the practice in an organised fashion.
  • The discussion will be based on a theme derived from the Akuva program and/or from the coach’s personal education and career plan.

Possible themes

The themes to be discussed in the sessions will be determined based on the participants learning objectives. However, in every session there will be some things that help coaches in the long run and some that help them in the very next practice. Also, it is important that the themes will expand the participants’ skills and knowledge – in other words, that the themes are novel. The themes may include for example:

  • Basketball as a complex system.
  • Defining basketball and practical implications of the definition.
  • Differential learning.
  • Playing the metagame.
  • Distributed practice.
  • Emotions and learning.

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