Akuva – Coach development program

Akuva is a coach development program developed and run by Harri Mannonen. The third edition will start in September 2017.  The program is organized by Kouvola Sports Academy for coaches from different sports. Also coaches from outside the academy can apply.

Why a sports organization might benefit from a coach development program

  • Most organizations try to create a competitive edge against other organizations.
  • A coach development program might 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 develop as coaches.
  • Enhance co-operation between the coaches in the organization.
  • 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 of Akuva in 2013-14 was a part of my MSc studies at the University of Worcester. The participants were basketball coaches from Loimaan Korikonkarit / Bisons.

Three Types of Akuva Interventions

  • Joint sessions.
  • One-on-one talks.
  • Practice visits

Joint sessions

  • During the course of Akuva 2017-18, the participants get together four times. Each session lasts for three hours.
  • These sessions take place about every two months.
  • In each session the coaches discuss three to four main themes.
  • Concerning at least one of these themes, ideas and suggestions will be crowdsourced through social media.

One-on-one talks

  • The coaches have one-on-one talks with me after the first joint session and after the last one.
  • A personalized 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.

Practice visits

  • 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 the practice, the coach and the visitor will discuss the practice.
  • The discussion will be based on a theme derived from the Akuva program and/or from the coach’s personal education and career plan.


  • Via social media, outsider experts comment on the problems in advance.
  • The authors of the best suggestion are rewarded.
  • Relevant material will be posted on this Akuva webpage.

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. Here’s the preliminary list of a few possible themes.

  • Creating a competitive edge.
  • Discussing your sport as a complex system.
  • Considering the definition of your sport and its practical implications.
  • Utilizing recent findings of scientific research on e.g. motor learning.
  • Non-linear learning.
  • Playing the metagame.
  • Setting appropriate goals.
  • Life-long coach learning.

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