Becoming a better coach

Introduction: The Evolution of Coaching

The role of a sports coach has evolved dramatically. While once focused mainly on tactics and training, today’s coaches understand that holistic athlete well-being is pivotal. 

Sometimes there is a great expectation to know or want to know everything for your athlete. And to support them in every way possible. Whilst commendable, as a coach you may want to take a moment to reflect on this.

Ask yourself; are you truly the best person to guide and support your athlete on managing an injury whilst continuing to perform? Are you the best person to guide them on how to get physically faster, stronger or powerful without putting them at risk over overtraining or asymmetries? Could other experts better guide your athlete on visualisation or self talk that works for them?

To truly become a better coach, one must delve into building trust, fostering rapport, reflecting on ones practice and recognising the importance of collaboration with industry experts.

1. Building Trust & Rapport with Athletes

Open Communication: Encourage athletes to voice their concerns, goals, and aspirations. Active listening can be more impactful than any pep talk.

Individualised Attention: Recognise the unique strengths, challenges, and motivations of each athlete. Tailored guidance resonates deeply and builds trust.

Consistency: Reliable feedback and consistent behaviour establish you as a trustworthy figure in the athlete’s journey.

2. Elevating Athlete Performance

Collaborative Coaching: Incorporate insights from strength and conditioning coaches, physiotherapists, and nutritionists to offer a comprehensive training regime, recovery strategies and more.

Continued Education: Stay updated with the latest in sports science, training methodologies, and psychological techniques to enhance your coaching strategies, but recognise which knowledge is best applied by others, and which can be applied effectively as a coach.

Feedback Mechanisms: Regular check-ins and performance evaluations ensure athletes are on the right path and allow for timely course corrections. Working with your athlete to establish how they prefer feedback and 

Reflection: Reflection is an underrated tool which all coaches should be employing. If you have studied any coaching model or been to university to train for your profession; you can be forgiven if you have come to know reflection in the context of a model or having a fixed approach to this. In reality, as you develop your experience and expertise, you need to find a way to reflect that works for you and your athletes. Reflection should lead to your development and a better service for your athletes. How you get there may look vastly different to another practitioner or coach. We will explore this in greater depth in a future post.

Sports coach watching his team play a,erican football

3. The Power of Collaboration with Industry Experts

By building a network with professionals such as physiotherapists, nutritionists, and sports psychologists, coaches can ensure athletes receive the best guidance in every facet of their development. You can use Athlete Now’s sports directory to connect with verified sports practitioners and experts in the field. 

Reputational Benefits: Collaborating showcases a coach’s commitment to holistic athlete development. Parents, other coaches, clubs, and athletes will recognise and appreciate the depth of your approach. 

Networking Advantage: Engaging with experts expands your professional network, opening up opportunities for collaborative projects, workshops, and shared knowledge. You may even end up with other athletes coming to you for skills development, wanting to be on your team or at your club, knowing you are putting the athletes first and have this beneficial relationship with experts. 

Diverse Expertise Helping the Athlete: Leveraging different experts ensures athletes receive the most accurate and beneficial guidance in each domain. This not only optimises performance but also safeguards well-being.

Enhanced Trust: Knowing that a coach is willing to refer athletes to specialists when needed builds trust. It demonstrates the coach’s priority is the athlete’s best interest, not ego.

Build your own knowledge: By collaborating with other industry professionals you will likely engage with conversations that expand your knowledge and understanding of their practice area.

Conclusion: A Coach’s Journey to Excellence

Being a coach isn’t just about imparting skills or strategies; it’s about championing the holistic growth of athletes. By fostering trust, continually updating your skills, and harnessing the collective knowledge of industry experts, coaches can profoundly impact athlete performance. Plus, this collaborative and athlete-centric approach enhances a coach’s reputation, signaling dedication, professionalism, and genuine care for the athlete’s journey.

I’ll be very honest, as a coach and practitioner myself, I have a respect for practitioners that aren’t afraid to work with others for the best of their athletes. It took me some time in the industry before I felt comfortable enough to say to my athletes, I don’t know… but let me find someone who does.

I have also been at the other end, when coaches try their best to be everything but didn’t get the support that would have helped me with what I needed. I like many others, took time out of my sport to recover, which then resulted in dropping out.

Building trust and rapport isn’t a milestone—it’s a continuous endeavour. And with each step, coaches not only uplift their athletes but also elevate the standard of coaching itself.

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