Loading ...

What is a coach? | Welcome and General

ConnectedCoaches uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to the use of the cookies. For more details about cookies how we manage them and how you can delete them see the 'Use of cookies' part of our privacy policy. Click the cross to close this cookie notice. X

Home » Groups » Welcome and General » Forum » General » What is a coach?
Welcome and General

Leave group:

Are you sure you want to leave this space?

Join this group:

Join this space?

Add a new tab

Add a hyperlink to the space navigation. You can link to internal or external web pages. Enter the Tab name and Tab URL. Upload or choose an icon. Then click Save.

The name that will appear in the space navigation.
The url can point to an internal or external web page.
Login to follow, share, and participate in this group.
Not a member?Join now
Posted in: General

What is a coach?

Subscribe to RSS
  • dancottrell1

    I'm researching what a coach does and how we help developing coaches get there.

    What is a coach?

    I'm thinking that it should be split into a couple of categories:

    Young player development coach (say to 8/9 years old)

    Community young player coach (say 9-14 years old)

    Youth player development coach (say 14-18 years old)

    Elite youth coach

    Adult community coach

    Adult elite coach

    Have I missed a category?

    Where's best to go to find out more?

    What are the common traits?

    Many thanks for any thoughts...

  • Tyler

    Callum Hayward

  • Hi Dan,

    You missed out Disability Coach!!

    I am a wheelchair user, tennis player and level 2 tennis coach. Although I have obviously coached able bodied children and adults, my speciality is wheelchair tennis and LD coaching.

    For out wheelchair tennis group, it has helped enormously that I am a player with International tournament experience as the wheelchair athletes know that I have specialist knowledge which will help them. I coach a group with an age range of 6 to 65 and obviously with a range of disabilities.

    With the LD groups I find that keeping everyone involved and active keeps potential problems to a minimum. Laughter is by far and away the best way to keep everyone involved and making myself look silly works a treat.

    With both groups I make sure to involve as many parents and carers who want to be involved in the activities, including getting them to use a tennis wheelchair.

    In my personal experience I am much more of a friend and confidante to everyone and I just happen to have a bit of tennis knowledge I am prepared to pass on.

    Hope this helps with your research and please feel free to contact me if you want to.

    p.s this is my first post here, so hopefully I am doing it correctly!!!!!

  • andrewb62

    Hi Dan

    I could not argue with your initial categorisation of coaches - broadly by age and/or ability/aspiration of the participants - but I wondered if you had considered including "activators" in your list?

    Those people who facilitate engagement with sports and other physical activities, without delivering significant technical input.

    Activators certainly do feature prominently in the recent Coaching Plan for England, and will be directly responsible for delivery of  "All Stars Cricket", the ECB's new entry level programme for 5-8 year olds.

  • dancottrell1

    Hi Stephen,

    First, thanks for posting and second, thanks for pointing out my glaring omission. As it happens, after I posted this question, I did download SportsCoach pdfs on just this subject, which I found very helpful.

    I'm trying to help understand how to develop the coach to coach more effectively. In other words, how do you "teach" them, though I use that term very loosely at this stage.

    Part of the process is helping coaches find the right language to use to be inclusive. Your thoughts in this area, a potentially politically correct minefield, would be interesting to hear.

  • dancottrell1

    Thanks Andrew, a new idea for me. 

    Another question for you...

    A coach who's been coaching one year. What would you expect them to be able to do, if they'd been supported suitably?

  • JonWoodward74

    Interesting study Dan - and all relevant pick up points from the comments!

    I think the categories will offer some kind of order to your study, but there can be huge differences in sport, activity and programme, where the lines sit.

    I think there is also great relevance in highlighting that these are not pigeon hold coaches, and coaches as individuals can sit across a range of categories and fulfil different roles.

    I would also add to the 'what' a coach does with 'how' they do it and 'why' they do it - as they all influence/impact on the other...

    Check out the sports coach UK research guys, as they will have access to further information.

    I would be interested in hearing more!!




  • David_T

    Hi Dan,

    Just a few thoughts/questions -

    Appreciate this may be depending on the type of research project you had in mind, but I would avoid the use of 'player' in the categorisation as this has a bias towards team sports (generally speaking of course). 

    I'd also say that in terms of development coach the age range is perhaps misleading - in the throws in athletics most throwers are considered development until 25 - hence the discussion of even introducing an U26 age category above the U23s for throws.  Remarkable when you think your career may be over by then in some sport. I appreciate Backley broke the WR at 21  - but no-one else had a shoulder like that.

    Also just a question for clarity - with the Young player development coach did that mean coaching just 8 to 9 year olds or from the ages of x up to 8/9. b Traditional sports coach UK always talked about 5+ - but not the Youth Physical Development Model suggests that thinking from 2 upwards is important in child development and body control. 

    Hope that's useful


  • clive1

    ..is there a wider  definition of coaching than this?.. I tend to think .as anyone with the approach that can help unlock potential in individuals and groups through understanding and working with  their motivations.. 

  • dancottrell1

    Thanks Jon.

    The Sports Coach UK research is already proving a goldmine of great information.

    The ages are not set in stone, they are just a guide to help understand where a coach might be, depending on the sport.

    I think my first question would be:

    What does a good coach look like after one year and how do we get them there?

    And then work on from that...

  • dancottrell1

    Hi Dave, 

    I think you are right to say it's very sport dependent, so the age groupings aren't important in the sense I'm looking for. 

    I'm most interested in how we can give the coach a better education, and what does that coach therefore need.

    If you've volunteered to coach your child's soccer or netball team, what would you look like in coaching terms in one year, two years and so on time? 

    I also recognise the on-going debate over developmental stages, re Cote and Bayli. That's for another day (and question perhaps)

  • Hi Dan, 

    Realise I might be late to add to this but in my sport (figure skating) the boundaries or categories for coach don't tend to exist (at least not in the UK). 

    Personally i have taught very beginners to those who compete internationally ... so responsibility for knowing the rules, regs etc for all the categories in between fell on to me. Sometimes there's is no definition for one person being a youth coach, adult coach, disability coach ... they're juggling it all :)

  • andrewb62
    On 10/02/17 09:54, Dan Cottrell said:

    A coach who's been coaching one year. What would you expect them to be able to do, if they'd been supported suitably?

    I'll have a go

    Assuming level 2 / UKCC2 or equivalent (independent coach)

    • competent & confident delivering a range of different sessions (generic and/or pre-planned)
    • developing new sessions to meet player needs
    • coached in at least two different environments (e.g. indoors & out; alternative venues), at least 3 sessions each
    • coached at least two separate groups, or 4 individuals, at least 3 sessions each
    • coaching at least one group or individual regularly (weekly, at least), for an extended period (6-8 sessions

    For assistant coach / level 1 / UKCC1

    • Worked with at least 2 more qualified coaches, at least 3 sessions each
    • coached in at least two different environments (e.g. indoors & out; alternative venues), at least 3 sessions each
    • coached at least two separate groups, or 4 individuals, at least 3 sessions each

  • fishcoach1

    We have a lot of well known anglers who win a few matches and then set themselves up as coaches without any formal training just to make money, no one can do anything about it. 

    A coach should be approachable have a reasonable knowledge of his or her sport

    be able to communicate in a way that can be fully understood by the participants.

    To take into consideration the stage that the participant is at not the age.

    To realise when they have reached the limit of their coaching ability and be prepared 

    to hand over to someone with greater knowledge.

    should be able to plan their sessions in such a way that they are coaching the person not just 

    the sport. 

    to understand how the participants learn and not to push them beyond their ability so making the 

    experience no longer enjoyable.

    Some of my comment might not apply in other sports

  • sargenpd

    Mr Fieldhouse you're getting everywhere... I quite agree with your sentiments.

    I believe that in our sport of angling, no one should be able to set themselves up as coaches without going through the due process of formal qualification before embarking on a coaching path. NGB's in every sport should enforce this.

    In the end it will increase professionalism both in the sport and the people taking part.

  • Ralph

    While you may see yourself as a teacher of the subject, you are so much more! You are a teacher of people, that is your true specialization, not just the subject. Yes, when students come to you they want to learn a special set of skills, but as an imperative compliment to that specific skill set, you teach them how to learn, how to grow! What an incredible gift that is!

    Every profession has a set of tools that needs to be mastered in order to master the job of that profession. The job of a master teacher is to consistently create a learning environment in which your student can achieve his or her greatest potential, both as a learner of the subject and as a person.

    What are the tools in your tool chest that help you do your job and accomplish your mission? What are the tools of a master teacher? Which tools do you use to create an environment in which your students can create their own successes?

     As a teacher, you do not have to be compassionate, nice, firm, exciting, stern, humorous, energetic, quiet, serious, entertaining, inspiring, or funny.

    What you have to be is effective, which ultimately means you are all of the above! As an effective teacher you are a chameleon. To be effective, you need to know what tool to use to get the job done. A master teacher is a conglomerate of professions! You are a detective, a doctor, an architect, a psychologist, a coach and a comic!


    You are a detective because you have to find out what your student's learning challenges are.

    You are a doctor because you need to diagnosis how to treat those challenges.

    You are an architect because you need to design a blueprint for the success of your student.

    You are a psychologist because you need to understand your student as a person.

    You are a coach because all good coaches stay on the sidelines and "coach." They do not enter the game.

    You are a comic because there will be times you will need to lighten the mood.


    Many of your students will have the wrong idea about learning. They will have been told, by teachers and other authority figures who are well meaning but mislead, that learning is supposed to be fun. This is simply not true!

     Learning is work and for the most part, work is not fun, so by proxy, learning is not necessarily fun! The feelings of accomplishment, success and pride, however, are extremely powerful motivators! Showing a student how to create these, for "himself, "is a gift that will inevitably change that student's life forever! In the mastery of a task always lies the reward of pride and pride is a much stronger motivator than fun. What an incredible gift to give them!

     What is that gift, you may ask? It is the gift of growth, the expansion of their comfort zones. Once your students become addicted to that feeling, nothing will stop them from achieving their own personal greatness! It is in this greatness that not only the student grows, but on an even larger scale, the world grows as well. If each individual in the world is happy, the world will be happy.

     What if your student holds the key to solving the worlds hunger problem but does not believe or take pride in his own ability to learn? Do you think he will unwrap his gift and deliver it to the world? Of course not!

     What if your student is a scientist-to-be who will eradicate the world of cancer, but he does not believe in himself? Do you think he will deliver his cure to the world? Absolutely not! He will continue to harbor it deep in the depths of his own self-doubt.

     You are so much more than a subject teacher; you are an educator who shows people what it takes to achieve their fullest potential. You are an educator who uses the learning of his subject as a metaphor for the learning of self and life!

     A most important part of your job is insuring that your students are not "renting "information from you, but instead, becoming "experience owners." The only way they can become owners is through work and effort. Do not rob them of this opportunity, for each time you do so you will also be robbing them of the chance to create self-esteem.

     Someone cannot learn to ride a bike by renting the information about balance and forward momentum from you or a book! They must experience it for themselves! They must go ride a bike, inclusive of the falling and bruising that comes with the learning. Certainly, you can support them, but you cannot ride the bike for them.

     They must have the bike riding experience for themselves. Similarly, they must have the experience of expanding their comfort zones for themselves, inclusive of the inevitable failures and bruising and "struggling "along the way! It is a mandatory part of learning.

     Rest assured, on their path to success, they will stumble. This is when you need to reach into your toolbox and use the tool of compassion. To quote an overused but accurate adage, "People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care!"

     Ultimately this is what it is all about, to care enough about the success of those put in your care that you are willing to do whatever it takes to create an environment in which they can thrive!

     You don't just want them to grow, you want them to thrive! You want them to explode with the joy of knowing they can achieve anything they set their mind to!

     Know this, if you are a good teacher, few people will be as committed to your student's success as you. Sometimes this can feel frustrating and stressful. Do not resist the frustration for through your resistance you will only add fuel to its toxic fire. Acknowledge it as a sign of your commitment and desire for your student's success.

    Relax! Take a step back and choose a more appropriate gradient, a goal that is not too hard, not too easy, but one that is just right! Readjust your goal to one with which you can feel successful and which will create success for both you and your student! You both get to win!

    Alan Jones

  • MIKER99
    What about those coaching children under 8 years old? At LittleLions-Rugby we work with children between the ages of 2.5-7 year old.

    I'm researching what a coach does and how we help developing coaches get there.

    What is a coach?

    I'm thinking that it should be split into a couple of categories:

    Young player development coach (say to 8/9 years old)

    Community young player coach (say 9-14 years old)

    Youth player development coach (say 14-18 years old)

    Elite youth coach

    Adult community coach

    Adult elite coach

    Have I missed a category?

    Where's best to go to find out more?

    What are the common traits?

    Many thanks for any thoughts...

  • dancottrell1

    Thanks Mike

    The categories are only for a broad reference point. Keen to work out what that coach actually looks like

  • tonylibert

    A coach is someone a young child can trust to believe in them.  One that they look to and see unswerving strength when other adults are losing it. A person who doesn't pretend to have all the answers but lets the person know when they, the child, has found the answer. A coach has to be fair to be trusted and thoughtful to be believed. Quiet to be heard, a few words can say much more. Mr. Samwell is right that all of that is part of being with kids. But most of all, and I know this will sound selfish, you have to revel in the persons growth. I don't really know how much I've done but I do know that the kids I have been with all winter can play a beautiful game together. That they have learned how to compliment each other and they have taken ownership of there game. We were there to see it through with all the bumps , bruises and laughs that go along with it. They took turns hugging me goodbye last night, we shook hands as is my custom after a match, our last of the year and we laughed about how much fun it was. My U10s know I believe in them

  • dancottrell1

    A moving answer and one which says how important the soft skills of coaching are.

    Now, how do we help other coaches develop those skills?

  • tonylibert

    Have the coaches , kids , mom and dad turn off the television and go play.  In every yard , alley, park, a game. 2 people its tag or catch 3 and its 2 on 1s, keep away,or pickle. Its about play. At your next coach session do it outside and use timeouts to teach and play around those moments. The lessons will stick and the and the coaches will understand why. Don't over think it, Just do it.

  • Ralph
    On 28/02/17 9:50 PM, Dan Cottrell said:

    Now, how do we help other coaches develop those skills?

    you can't 

    you either get it or you never will, in fact the answer, stop trying to, as coaches we can easily fall into being a control freak, that we can make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

    if you really want to boil it down to basics, Life is a journey of self discovery.

    most get frightened of what they find and opt for mediocrity or narcissism or anger, the rest push through this and find their passion.

    Sugar Ray Leonard said it better..

    "My toughest opponent was myself, once i won that battle, i became world champion."

    rather than develop other coaches develop those skills, look for coaches, the same way we look for potential athletes.

    how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? the light bulb has got to want to change!

  • MIKER99

    Hi Dan,

    I would argue that depending on the level/age you are coaching, what a coach looks likes differs.

    The skill set of a coach working with a group of elite athletes is very different to someone coaching children under the age of 6/7 years old.

    I would argue that someone coaching young children (Toddlers/KS1 children) needs to work so much harder than someone working with older groups adults. First, the coach of children needs to develop a whole new language/range of references. You need to be able to talk in terms of Power Rangers, Princess Sofia, etc. All games/drills need to be FUN. They are not interested in the benefits/attributes we may be working on. They just want to have fun, and that's how it should be.

    Games need to be repeated over several weeks to develop the core skills. However if you repeat the same games every week they get bored. So variation of games is important. Dressing the games up with a storyline adds to their enjoyment/excitement.


    We play one game called Safari.

    The game starts with a brief discussion of what is a Safari?

    We talk about all the different big animals we might go on a Safari to look for. We end up with the idea of the 'many tailed Tiger'. We then nominate a Captain who's responsibility it is to spot the Tiger and start the game with the line: "There he is!"

    The group then chase the tiger grabbing one tail at a time. Once they grab a tail they stop and cry out - "LittleLions!!" This gives the game longevity otherwise they could grab all the tails at once.

    We could just belt someone up with a tag belt and several tags. However the build up of the game increases the fun factor and therefore the enjoyment of the game.

    So as this game shows there are a lot more different elements to becoming a good coach for this age level, as to someone who is coaching elite players of a sport.

    What do others think?

Page 1 of 1 (23 items)