How to Get Good at Coaching

I often get asked how to get good at coaching. Is it from doing coaching courses? From observing high level coaches? From coaching? From doing Human Movement degrees? My usual answer is that, 'well, we know that coaches get about 80% of their learning from their workplace, so talking to other coaches about coaching is really important, and always questioning things too'. Or something like that. But I thought of a better answer today (thanks Pat Madia):

Coach the worst players you can.

By 'worst' I don't mean bad at your sport, but the sort of players coaches tend not to want to coach (because we all want 'perfect' players to coach). They are 'lazy' or 'unmotivated'. They are 'uncoordinated' or just plain 'don't listen'. They are 'un-athletic', 'too short' or 'not strong enough'. They have 'difficult parents' or they are 'disruptive'. Sure, that's all true. Welcome to coaching.

Coach the worst players you can.

Rather than spending all your time wishing you didn't have to coach these players, embrace it. Find a way to do a great job. Will you win? I don't know.

Coach the worst players you can.

Apart from all the altruistic reasons for coaching difficult kids (or adults) in terms of providing direction and structure, you will get better at coaching difficult players. Rather than wishing for different players you have coached whoever was in front of you to the absolute best of your ability.

Coach the worst players you can.

Do you know what teams have difficult players? All teams, everywhere, in all sports. From Olympic champions to last place in U8s. And YOU will be able to get the most out of them as you climb up the coaching ladder because you have embraced it, and practiced it, and not avoided it.

(Photo Credit)


  1. Not that I think you're necessarily wrong, but got any evidence to support "...we know that coaches get about 80% of their learning from their workplace...".

  2. I just googled 'coach workplace learning' and got this:

    Scholarly article by Rynne is worth a look. I know him. Good guy - done a lot of research in this area.

    I first read about it in a meta analysis which was basically a book rather than a paper. Probably at least 10 years ago.


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