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MSA introduces revolutionary new coaching standard for motor sport

The creation of a new accredited coaching structure within UK motor sport has taken another major step forwards this week after ten individuals were qualified as official motor sport coaches.

Pat Blakeney, Phil Glew, Jonny Kane, Calum Lockie, Tim Mullen, John Pratt, Oliver Rowland, Duncan Tappy, Jamie Wall and Danny Watts all successfully completed the intensive four-day MSA Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Performance in Motor Sport, held at Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey.

The award is part of a revolutionary new coaching infrastructure that has been developed by the MSA in association with accredited qualifications body 1st4Sport and is in line with the UK Coaching Certificate framework.

Previously, individuals wishing to promote themselves as a ‘driver coach’ have had little more than their own competitive credentials to point to. However, as has been recognised in other sports and professions, being a good practitioner does not necessarily equip someone to be a good teacher – hence the MSA’s desire to introduce these hitherto unprecedented official qualifications.

“There are a number of reasons why we are introducing this coaching framework,” explained Ben Taylor, MSA Director of Development and Communications. “Firstly, it will raise standards across the board and provide a level of consistency that ensures a good experience for everyone at whatever level. Secondly, it’s about introducing an understanding of the role of coaching within our sport that will have a significant impact on our ability to create future champions. Thirdly, there’s a liability position. As the governing body of UK motor sport, the MSA has a duty of care to ensure that those responsible for coaching others are properly trained, assessed and accredited. And finally, there is a political benefit in that it puts the MSA and motor sport on the same footing as other governing bodies, which is essential if we are to confirm our place as a major sport.”

To put this new framework in place, the MSA has been working closely with Professor Dave Collins, former Performance Director of UK Athletics. Together they have developed a structure that includes two Level 2 awards (one with a Performance focus, the other Participation), as well as an entry level ‘Introduction to Motorsport Coaching’ designed for delivery in one day that will be available to clubs and colleges.

“Other sports certainly have more of a tradition in coaching but, in some ways, that gives us an advantage as we’re starting with a clean sheet of paper,” said Collins. “While working within the constraints of a qualifications body, this fresh start has allowed us to be pretty innovative when creating these certificates. It’s all about helping people understand the science of how to coach rather than just passing on their personal experiences.”

Although all ten of the newly qualified Level 2 motor sport coaches had considerable previous coaching experience, they were unanimous in their praise for the course that combined both time in the classroom and on-track.

“It was a very steep learning curve but very worthwhile – I’ve learnt things that I wish I learned 20 years ago as it would have made my career as a driver coach much, much easier,” admitted Pat Blakeney, chairman elect of ARDS, the Association of Racing Drivers Schools, and Group Operations Manager at Thruxton Circuit. “There’s a big difference between coaches and instructors but for anyone wanting to take coaching seriously this will be an essential tool for them to have in their toolbox.”

“It was very valuable,” agreed Lockie, a professional racing driver, coach and chairman of ATDO, the Association of Track Day Organisers. “I’ve learnt a lot of new stuff but also how to create a better structure for some of the stuff that I already knew. Anyone who wants to call themselves a ‘coach’ should – and possibly must – do this course.”

“I got such a lot out of it,” confirmed Watts who was a class winner at Le Mans earlier this year. “When I’m not racing, all I do is coach – so this has been invaluable for me. It also means I’m officially recognised now.”

The Level 2 awards will be rolled out in early 2014. For further information on any aspect of the MSA coaching structure, email: academy@msauk.org

20 December 2013