Maslow's Hierarchy of Coaching Needs

I've been spending a lot of time on coach development over the past 5+ years and have made a number of observations. Primarily, that coaches have different needs and interests and different times.

I call it Maslow's Hierarchy of Coaching Needs and, like Maslow's Hierarchy, there is little scientific basis for it.

The concept of Maslow's Hierarchy is that someone needs to be satisfied at one level before having the capacity to progress to the next. For beginner coaches, technical is the focus for the first 5 years, then tactical for 5 years, then Sports Science and Sports Medicine for 5 years, then the actual ability to 'coach' after that.1 For anyone still reading, yes, the 5 years is arbitrary but feels about right. It takes a long time!

Now, what are the practical implications of this?

Primarily it is related to coach development. A good coach developer knows that coaching skills are critical, and that curiosity is a trait of high performing coaches. But running sessions on these things for coaches who just want to know the 'fundamentals' isn't necessarily going to achieve anything.

So, from a coach development perspective what does that mean?

It means to be patient. Coaches need to go through the process and collect the information they feel they need before being comfortable enough to progress to the next level. But at the same time, they need their curiosity engaged in order to drive their own development in parallel with any 'formal' education.


1. There are probably 1,000s of flaws and objections that can be posed, but bear with me.

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