Selected Characteristics of Division-I Boys! Junior High Basketball Coaches in Taiwan

Introduction

According to many studies, basketball is the most popular sport among Taiwanese Youth (Wu, 1998; Liang, 2000, & Yu, 2000). Despite this, there are not many junior high schools that were willing to organize teams. Of the 724 junior high schools in Taiwan, only 16 teams (2.2%) had participated in the Division-I Basketball Tournament. These select few also do not have to compete in the local or regional levels to earn their playoff bids. Like most high school programs in the United States (Unknown, 1984; & Norwood, 1987) without a sufficient budget, finding proper coaching staffs to guide interscholastic sports is a difficult task for most Taiwanese secondary schools. Although 16 schools had hired their coaches and enjoyed Division-I competition, the qualifications of these coaches were often overlooked.

Paulson (1980) stated that in order for children to develop a love for sport, coaches must be held to high standards of proficiency. As a result, some research has been focused on issues of coaches’ background, education, playing experience, training, and certification (Sisley & Capel, 1985; Schweitzer, 1989; Stewart & Sweet, 1992; & Palmer, 1997). Schweitzer (1989) collected survey data of 350,000 high school coaches and found one-third to one-half of coaches did not receive sport-related education. Sisley and Capel (1985) conducted a survey in of high school coaches in the State of Oregon. They found 69.5% of the coaches were teaching and coaching at the same schools, 82.7% of the coaches were male, 54.9% had played at the high school varsity or intercollegiate teams, and that 34.5% of the coaches had majored in Physical Education (PE). Stewart and Sweet (1992) surveyed 400 coaches in Montana, with a responding rate around 72%. Among the 288 respondents, 77% (223) were male, and 94 (270) held at least a baccalaureate degree. 89% of respondents were teaching and coaching at the same school, and about 54% of respondents had PE as their major or minor.

Who are the coaches guiding most elite junior-high basketball programs in Taiwan? How did these coaches get involved with their coaching jobs? What qualifications and education did they receive in order to perform their coaching duties? The purpose of this study was to examine the demographic characteristics and the qualification in coaching education of the Division-I boys’ junior high basketball coaches in Taiwan. Since the information concerning the background, occupational education, and certification of basketball coaches was well documented, this study could provide more depth in identifying the coaching qualities and the needs of coaching courses.

Methods

The purpose of this study was to identify characteristics and qualifications of the current Division-I head coaches of boys junior-high basketball in Taiwan. Among the 16 Division-I junior high schools that had participated in the National Tournament, 11 head coaches had agreed to fill out the survey questionnaire. Of the eleven coaches, only one was female. Their ages ranged from 24 to 57 years old, with the mean age, 32.7 years. The average coaching experience was 7.0 years.

The questionnaire used in this study was developed by Palmer (1997) with slight moderations in order to adapt to cultural specificity. Items were designed to elicit demographic characteristics regarding coaches’ general information and their attitudes toward coaching certification and education.

The colleague of the researcher, Wu Ming, personally attended the National Tournament in Taipei and distributed the questionnaire to the subject coaches to collect the survey data. Data was collected during the preliminary round of the National Tournament in November 2001, with 16 schools playing three games in an attempt to make the second round. Coaches who agreed to participate in the study answered the survey questionnaire between games at the gymnasium or the hotel. The survey did not take more than 10 minutes to answer.

Results

Coaches were asked to indicate their highest level of education attained, playing experience and their enrollment in PE courses. Nine of the eleven subject coaches had a baccalaureate degree, one coach had an associate’s degree, and one had only a high school diploma. Five of the nine graduated from the National Normal University. Overall, two coaches graduated with a degree in PE, with seven taking PE courses during their study or as a minor. Six of the eleven coaches had participated in intercollegiate athletics before having played for their college basketball team.

Six of the eleven coaches coach boys’ teams only, while the other five coached both the boys’ and girls’ teams. A majority of the teams (89%) that they had coached would have an even distribution in numbers according to the different grades. The enrollment of the school they had coached ranged from 130 to 2,100 students. The average enrollment was 1,380.9. Among the 16 schools in the tournament, 77.8% had enrollment of more than 1,200.

Five coaches had indicated that the Bureau of Education of their counties or cities would require coaches to be certified. However, among these five coaches, only one had the required coaching certification. Either the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association or the municipal Bureau of Education certified three of the coaches. Interestingly, five coaches indicated that their jobs would be formally evaluated. The evaluators were the principal/ superintendent or the dean of academics.

Seven of the coaches were teaching at the school where they also had coached with four coaches hired out of the campus. Of these four, only one was paid for his coaching duties. Only one faculty-coach received pay for coaching. As a result, overall only two out of the total eleven coaches were paid for their coaching duties. Despite this fact, coaches were willing to volunteer due to their personal interest in basketball.

Among the eleven coaches, seven had attended a one- or two-day coaching clinic last year. However, in terms of a comprehensive coaching course that includes instruction in sport psychology, injury prevention, and health education, only five of the coaches had taken part in this type of course. Among the six coaches who had not attended a comprehensive coaching course, four of them stated that they did not have any information or access regarding this type of course.

Conclusions and suggestions

There was only one female coach in the Division -I Junior High Basketball. With males dominating the coaching, it is strongly recommended to have more female coaches in basketball.

The studies of Stewart and Sweet (1992) and Siegel and Newhof (1992) yielded similar high percentages in terms of coaches who are college graduates. The percentage of Taiwanese coaches who held a PE degree and the percentage of faculty-coaches were also quite similar to the findings of Sisley and Capel (1985) and Palmer (1997). However, this study found the percentage of the coaches who are volunteers is much higher in Taiwan. There were also a higher percentage of coaches in this study who had attended a coaching clinic in comparison to the results of Palmer’s study (1997).

According to Palmer’s study (1997), only 22.4% complete a coaching course. In the United States, 65% of the state departments of education do not require any certification of their coaches (Conn & Razor, 1989). Despite this, the Bureau of Education of Taiwan is still far behind the US educational departments regarding the issue of certification. Therefore, it is recommended that the Bureau of Education propose an education program to ensure the quality of its sport coaches.

Due to the small number in the sample, this study can only be viewed as a case study on the selected characteristics of the current Division-I junior high school coaches. Any further generalization to all secondary-school basketball coaches of Taiwan must be carefully considered. According to the responses of the subject coaches, there are two suggestions that the researcher would like to address to the schools and the Municipal Bureau of Education of various counties. (1) Since nearly 82% of the subject coaches were working on a volunteer-basis and nearly half of them coaching both boys and girls teams at the same time, there should be a method to reward or reimburse them. Although 82% had shown strong personal interest toward their coaching jobs, the administration should not take this for granted. Simply stated, keeping these coaches to maintain their jobs should be a primary concern in term of students’ interests. (2) More coaching courses should be offered and publicized to current coaches so they can obtain updated information and professional knowledge to perform their coaching duties. If certifying all coaches is a future concern, then course planing and the implementation will be extremely important.

References

Conn, J. & Razor, J. (1989). Certification of coaches-A legal and moral responsibility. The Physical Educator, 46(3), 161-165.

Liang, I.C. (2000). A study of consumer behavior on recreational sports participation of the undergraduates in Taipei City. Unpublished master’s thesis, National Normal University, Taiwan.

Palmer (1997). Selected characteristics of basketball coaches in Lutheran Elementary Schools. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Daphne, Alabama.

Schweitzer, C. (1989). Coaching certification. Washington, D.C.: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 310 112).

Siegel, D. & Newhof, C. (1992). What should it take to be a coach? The Journal of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. 63(6), 75-79.

Sisley, B. L. & Capel, S. A. (1985). Oregon coaches background survey-Background of coaches in Oregon high schools, 1984-85. Department of Physical Education and Human Movement Studies: University of Oregon. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 280 832).

Stewart, C.F. & Sweet, L. (1992). Professional preparation of high school coaches: The problem continues. The Journal of Health Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. 63(2), 75-79.

Wu, H.P. (2000). A study of implementry status and impedimentary factors of physical educational amusement camps of Taipei elementary /secondary schools. Unpublished master’s thesis, National Normal University, Taiwan.

Yu, C.F. (1998). The relationship between free time activities and health among students of a selected junior high school in Taipei City. Unpublished master’s thesis, National College of Physical Education, Taiwan.