Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Online coaching limits development - ... stakeholders weigh in on limitations of virtual training

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2020 | 12:12 AM

Zoom has become a very popular audio and video conferencing platform during the COVID-19 pandemic and even though some organisers of sporting events have been taking advantage of its advantages, its limitation in developing athletes is presenting major challenges.

The online communication platform brings coaches and athletes together virtually, but keeps them away from each other physically, which allows them to train and have workshops under the social distancing guideline of the Government, as a precaution against the coronavirus.

Karate is one sport, which uses the platform for the development of their athletes.

President of the Jamaica Karate Federation, Tony Robinson, said his athletes have adapted well to this method of training, which is used to help them keep fit under the current restriction.

“These Zoom classes conducted by the Jamaica Karate Olympic qualifying team are the modern day version of those ancient training methods,” Robinson said. “The Zoom classes allow students to interact with the team, hone their skills and also gain valuable experience from the Olympic hopefuls.”

Despite welcoming the positive impact of the platform, Robinson also admitted that there are several drawbacks, especially considering that karate is an interactive and physical discipline.

“The Zoom classes are limited in this aspect, as there can be no touching or physically correcting students,” Robinson said. “Most importantly, there can be no fighting via Zoom and that’s the biggest drawback of all.”


Robinson also pointed out that competitions are important for the development of athletes and that this is not possible online.

“At this time of COVID-19, the students cannot participate in clinical training and qualification tournaments as these have been all cancelled,” he said.

Meanwhile, Principal of GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sports, Maurice Wilson, had similar views to Robinson.

“Zoom has a place for sport. From a theoretical standpoint, you can use it to present information, coaching points, outline areas of weaknesses and you can upload videos that show a template of a particular execution of an activity that you would want,” Wilson said.

“However, it takes away the human touch, the contact, making corrections physically to athletes and having face-to-face discussions,” said Wilson. “Zoom keeps coaches and athletes connected virtually, but there is a need for physical interaction.”

Sharla Williams