By Andrew Moshanov
“The majority of coaches across all combat sports will soon have a second qualification – in mixed martial arts”
In the first of a regular series of personal columns, Andrew Moshanov, IMMAF’s Director of Development talks about the future of coaching in modern ‘multi’ sports.
Since the launch of the “IMMAF Coach Education and Certification Program” in 2017 every coach who opted to take up an IMMAF qualification in mixed martial arts was already a qualified coach in another combat sport.
In less than four years, the majority of coaches across all combat sports will have a second qualification – in mixed martial arts. I expect this will happen by the end of the current Olympic cycle which ends in 2024. This is going to happen, despite the current protectionism and resistance from some International Federations, which is like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand. It is time for a wake-up call and real cooperation which will have benefits for all parties.
As for the question, “what does the future look like for a coach?”, the answer is positive. The future is bright, but it will take some adjustments to mind sets. This is because while the number of competitive-minded athletes may be limited, the recreational pool is increasing fast!
For this reason, as coaches, we need to break into the recreational market, and the most efficient approach is as a “multi-sport coach”, . This concept has been with us for a decade already but still needs to win the hearts and minds of physical education and sports providers and take a dominant grip on the market.
Although most kids try some form of sport in their childhood, unfortunately, there is a massive drop out happening at the moment around the age of 12 due to early specialisation. This also explains the fierce and damaging competition between combat sports since all these sports want to recruit as many young children as early as possible, find the talents and insert them into the relevant amateur competition circuit.
But the harsh truth is that most of the beginners will be lost when kids are introduced to competitions around age 11- 12. Children still need to continue their physical development somehow and somewhere. Otherwise “late developers” will never catch up with those who took up the sport at a young age. Worse still, they may remain physically underdeveloped for life. Some of them will likely try another sport, only to drop out again, and then quit sport forever, leaving with a bad taste in their mouth.
I strongly believe that the best way to counteract early specialisation and early drop-off, and keep children in sport for longer, is the “multi-sport approach”. There is a growing need to meet the expectations of Gen Z, who know no limits in their aspirations. Gen Z wants to get everything fast to digest it, modernise it and then take it to the next level. They are living in the fast lane, and coaches sometimes struggle to keep up.
Most of us, as coaches, will work in sport at a recreational level. Only a few of us will ever make it to a competitive and professional level with our athletes. Nevertheless, our mission is more than honourable since it is life enhancing. We need to make this generation healthier. We need to embark on the journey from day one when the kids step into the gym. We will need to have the ability to assess them, identify any gaps and provide physical development for as long as possible.
For this, we need to adjust our teaching, reset our approaches and reboot the big picture.