Graham Taylor: Lancaster and Capello have put coaching in the spotlight
Coaches have been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks. Stuart Lancaster made his competitive debut as caretaker England coach at the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in the wake of England's disappointing World Cup, while the dramatic resignation of Fabio Capello following the removal of John Terry as England captain has led to another Stuart [Pearce] being appointed caretaker coach within England football.
Following these two very different scenarios, there has been a lot of talk of who is the "right man" for these jobs, with an emphasis on the ability to communicate effectively with players and an understanding and appreciation of creating the right culture within the team.
In many ways this has served to highlight the complexity of the role of the coach. It's not good enough just to be an expert in the sport technically; tenacity, an ability to inspire, make tough decisions, plan meticulously, innovate and engage the expertise of others are also crucial, but so often these other skills required to coach at the highest level are overlooked.
People admire the journey of an Olympian or Paralympian and the personal sacrifices they make in order to translate years of dedicated training into success at the highest level. For many British athletes, the euphoria of winning a medal at a home games will be without question the pinnacle of their athletic careers.
Regardless of whether athletes succeed or fail, there will be one real constant in the athlete's journey: the coach. Choosing to coach any world-class athlete comes with extensive sacrifice and dedication on the coach's part that rivals some of the most high-pressure roles within many other professions.
When the start gun is fired or the whistle is blown the athlete is ultimately on their own with responsibility for their performance resting firmly in their hands, but there is no question that they would never have made it to the start line had it not been for their coach.
London 2012 will raise awareness of the importance of quality British led coaching in the UK. If we are to maintain our position on the world's stage of sporting prowess then we must ensure there is a significant depth of expert coaches working hand in hand with athletes to support their ambitions.
UK Sport has provided a range of development opportunities across a spectrum of Olympic and Paralympic sports over the past 10 years, to help our own homegrown talent excel in the field of coaching. If you don't know the names of the individuals we have worked with now, you probably will do by the summer: Toni Minichiello coached heptathlete Jessica Ennis back from injury to win the World Championships in 2009; Danny Kerry has taken the GB women's hockey team from 11th to fourth in the world rankings and to a Champions Trophy silver medal; Paul Manning (below) turned to a career in coaching after his gold medal winning performance on the cycling track in Beijing and is now imparting his wisdom in working with the GB women's team pursuit (current World Champions); Greg Baker is leading the coaching of the disability table tennis team recently selected to ParalympicsGB for 2012, who won six medals at last summer's European Championships.
With London 2012 fast approaching, as any coach knows, preparation is key. We, the Coaching team at UK Sport, have our own preparation to do over the coming months to ensure coach development is delivered to the highest possible standard; our ambition is to take British coach development to a whole new level in 2013, and ultimately for it to be recognised as world leading.
This blog first appeared on InsidetheGames