The 4 elements of an effective Coach

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to see many great coaches in action, whether they be technical coaches or S&C coaches. These have covered a variety of sports such as Rugby Union, Football, Swimming, Volleyball, Weightlifting to name a few…

Recently I was reflecting on what are the factors that determine effective coaching and I’ve settled on the following factors:

1.Technical Knowledge Base

It goes without saying that a good base of technical knowledge is required to be a good coach. A good coach has the required knowledge of the technical framework to understand what a good or “ideal” performance of a technical skill looks like – whether that is a volleyball serve, rugby scrum or clean and jerk. This gives them the base to assess technical performance from. Great coaches know what “good” looks like.

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The starting point – technical knowledge

2.Coach’s eye

Following on from the above, effective coaches have a keen focus on the details of the technical performance. Both the scrutiny of a simple individual skill, or the analysis of a tactical strategy involving the entire team. This allows the coach to quickly and easily identify when a skill or action deviates from the desired technical framework. Great coaches have a great eye.

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Extreme attention to detail is a necessary skill

3.Problem Solving Skills

Once a technical, physical or tactical breakdown has been identified, great coaches are able to employ their memory or creativity to select or design the practice, scenario, constraint or feedback required to improve or eliminate the identified error. Great coaches are great problem solvers.

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Performance problems require highly developed problem solving skills

4.Communication Skills

Great coaches are then able to communicate the selected solution to the performance problem to the athletes in a way that resonates with the athlete themselves. This obviously varies depending on the age, experience and capacity of the athlete. This might be a simple verbal cue, analogy or scenario that the athlete understands. Great coaches are great communicators.

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What you said vs What they heard

So that is my current list of what factors I have identified in great coaches, regardless of sport, or level. In the next blog post, I will expand further on the final factor – communication skills, as I feel this is an area that is really underdeveloped in some of the young coaches at the beginning of their coaching careers.

2 thoughts on “The 4 elements of an effective Coach

    1. Thanks for the comment. I’d have to say I disagree with you though. If you look into the background often there are many similarities that suggest it’s developed – ex PE teachers, understudies to great coaches themselves, decades of experimenting and learning what works…

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