Technology can’t replace sports coaches

In this article, I’d like to share — with sports coaches and athletes, alike — my belief, as described in the title. To repeat, technology cannot possibly replace a coach. What it can do, though, is to help make the coach’s job easier, and more efficient. Utilizing technology, a coach won’t only expand their knowledge and develop their skills, but also grow their business; thus, in turn, help more athletes excel in their sport(s).

In recent years — with the rapid development of both the sports movement and artificial intelligence (AI) — we’ve been increasingly witnessing products and applications providing algorithms capable of building programs for every type of athlete, within a minute; or, at least, their creators claim they do!

Although I, myself, am a coaching platform owner, I, first and foremost, am a coach; hence, I recognize the value an endurance (running, cycling, swimming, triathlon) coach brings to the table. To be honest, this is why my team and I decided to allow athletes limited functionality to our application, Endogusto; whereas, providing sports coaches with all the necessary tools and features to do their job. 

Yet, this is not the time for promoting our platform; as mentioned, this article is to highlight the importance of the coach in the athlete’s physical and mental development.

What is a sports coach?

All in all, a coach is a professional who applies sports science in practice; in short, the person who sets up the athlete’s training, who gives instructions and guides them through this difficult journey. The role of the coach is catalytic in the athlete’s course at the sport they engage in. However, it’s not without difficulties, since the human factor often dictates that nothing is ever fixed, nor certain. 

Above all, a coach should be well versed in the science of Physical Education; for instance: 

  • Occupational Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Sports Medicine
  • Biokinetics
  • Psychology
  • Coaching, etc.

More often than not, the image of the ideal coach is that of a realistic, practical, wise, and confident mentor; and, at the same time, imaginative, insightful, willing to break traditions, able to make quick and successful decisions. Not to mention, supportive and resourceful in times of crisis. 

Dealing with the human factor

And this is the main reason why the coach cannot be replaced! Due to the human factor, everything can change in the process; and, as we all know, there is no such thing as an ‘average person’. Everyone is unique, with unique needs, as well as strengths, and weaknesses; to say nothing of biological blueprint, metabolic profile, medical history, and so on. 

For example, two identical cars, sharing the same manufacturer, date, torque, etc., will probably achieve exactly the same performance, under the same conditions. But two identical people, with identical biometric characteristics — or even the same maximum oxygen intake — will most likely respond differently to a certain training stimulus; even if they’re performing the same training program.

Can AI calculate every aspect of human physiology?

Indeed, breakthroughs in AI technology can make our world even better; that is, if applied properly. With that in mind, sports coaches can add and measure individual characteristics that distinguish one athlete from another; aiming to personalize their training plan, as much as possible.

Fortunately, there are many tools that provide a wealth of data on an athlete’s condition; both before, and during, as well as after a race and a workout. Through technology, a coach can accurately evaluate an athlete’s physical condition and input their individual values ​​to an algorithm. In fact, technology will soon be able to eliminate human error; also, respond and adapt faster than a coach can! 

So, why does an athlete need a coach, after all?

Well, it’s all in the soft skills: emotional Intelligence, leadership, listening and understanding, motivating, simple human(e) communication! Our humanity is the thing that — until now — cannot be replaced by any machine. 

And, believe me when I say — as a coach, with plenty of titles under my belt (BSc, MSc, Ph.D.) — I would never have succeeded, had I not acquired the abilities of emotional intelligence and leadership. I would never have succeeded, could I not understand the psychological transitions each of my athletes are going through; or the need for support they’ve felt — and, often won’t admit — after a bad workout or a bad race. 

I’m certain that you can relate, to some degree, to the above statements, whether you’re an athlete with your coach by your side (even online), or a coach, supporting and guiding your athlete all the way. All I want to say is that the relationship between an athlete and their coach is an intimate one. Therefore, even when technology will be able to “ respond, and adapt, faster” to an athlete’s data than a human coach could, it wouldn’t be able to respond to them emotionally, at all!

Technology in the service of the coach

As I mentioned, I am the Co-Founder and CEO of a tech startup, Science Training. I’m also an online coach who uses technology every day. So, I’m a big fan of technology, and I believe that it can work wonders — if used properly. 

Developing Endogusto, we wanted to help sports coaches become more efficient in their coaching; while saving them time and enabling them to grow their business. In other words, we wanted our platform to help the coach, in every way possible; not replace him! As Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple, once said: “It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.” While we may not have the most features available on the market yet, we have another incomparable — in our opinion — advantage: we recognize a coach’s value.

That said, in Science Training, athletes can neither create a program, nor voluntarily change the program designed by their coach. Any change should be made with care and good knowledge, by the coach. Nonetheless, with Science Training athletes can interact and communicate much better with their coach. In this respect, with Science Training, we aspire to make the coach-athlete relationship stronger than ever!

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Technology can’t replace sports coaches was last modified: July 27th, 2022 by Aris Myrkos