What Makes A Good Sports Coach?

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Sports leaders are always looking to improve and knowing what makes a good coach is the first step. There are a number of articles and websites that discuss what you need to do to become a successful sports coach.

We have used our 16 years experience in sport to create our five areas we think all good coaches should be aware of.

The five areas we feel make a good sports coach are:

  • Variety
  • Knowing your athletes/players
  • Learning from others
  • Not being afraid to fail
  • Leadership management

This article aims to provide further advice on what makes a good sports coach. Our sports coaching guide also discusses other resources such as the stages of learning and what qualifications sports coaches need,

Use the five topics below to help you reflect on your current practice and when reading them, try and think of ideas that will ultimately benefit you and your athlete/s.

What makes a good coach
Sports coaches are always striving to improve


Variance is a key factor to learning and maintaining motivation. If your athletes turn up to the same warm up and the same practice drill every day they will start to feel like training is a chore. Try and have a set of different warm ups and try something new now and then. By doing this your athletes will enjoy the new experience and also feel more motivated. If you are one of those who do the same warm up every day then try plan something new and I am confident your athletes will notice.

Know your athletes

This doesn’t mean find out what they like to watch at the cinema or what food they like to eat, this about what signs do they show when they are reaching their limit. Are they the sort of athlete who continues on until they do damage to themselves, do they aspire to be somebody or just want to cruise in their career? These are the questions you should be able to answer and this will help you plan and move them forward. There is no easy answers to this but make sure you listen and observe their patterns. Our article on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation discusses how coaches can learn what drives their athletes.

Learn from others

Do you read sports coaching and sports science articles? Do you know what inspires the top coaches in your sport? If not, research it. Find out what tips they have and learn from them. They are the people who are at the top of the sport and you can learn a huge amount from them. Don’t necessarily copy everything they do as this might not go down well with your athletes but make sure you read up on how they got to their current position and what their previous job roles were.

Don’t be afraid to fail

The “don’t be afraid to fail” speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger is inspiring and aspects can be used to help become a successful sports coach and/or sports leader. Every coach has made a bad decision in their career but learning from these mistakes is the important part and is why they are a good coach. You might try a new training session tonight and it might be the best training session you have or it may be the worst. Either way you know next time whether it works or not. You can read more on how to plan a training session here.

Leadership Management – Always aim for the next step on the ladder

This tip is to help you focus on the next step in your career. Do you know what you have to do to get to the next level, what sports coaching qualification you need and what makes a good coach? Do you know how to get that coaching job at your local sports team? If not, find out. By doing so you will not only be developing yourself but learning new skills that you can use when coaching to improve your athletes even further.

Try to use the above to help you create some targets to move your coaching career further. Hopefully they will help you highlight some areas which you can work on and help you to continue to move forward.

For those of you who are new to sports coaching, the most important tip is to familiarise yourself with Sports Coach UK (UKCoaching). UK Coaching provide some great resources on coaching and are seen as the leader in developing and monitoring sports coaching in the UK. You can also read more on sports coaching here and you can also check out the fantastic work that Sports Coach UK do and their advice on sports coaching.

Want to find out more?

To find out more, we have created our guide to sports coaching for new and aspiring sports coaches. This guide has been created from our 16 years experience in sports coaching and education.

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