Characteristics of a good coach
The most basic definition of a sports coach states that it’s a job where someone teaches people how to improve at a sport or skill, and to train and organise a sports team.
The reality now is SO much different.
Today’s coach is required to impart more than just technical knowledge and tactical advice. Here’s just a few different roles a coach might be expected to perform:
- Mentor – guiding players and teams through new and challenging situations
- Friend – you will build up a personal relationship with players where you become a friend (not just a coach)
- Counsellor – you will be at times be asked to assist resolving an individual’s emotional and personal problems
- Organiser – you will be in charge of organising and planning for your team, including individual and team training
- Negotiator – you will need to negotiate to get the best out of your players. This may mean negotiating their workload, or how you are going about training
- Problem Solver – you will be asked to assist solving problems, whether it be with individuals, or a group who need your help
- Confidant – after building up a close relationship with some players, they will potentially share personal details with you and look for advice
- Role model – often your players will look to emulate you
Phew! And not only does a coach play many roles within the team but they have to be a very strong and positive communicator. This applies not only to the members of their team but to external stakeholders.
Coaches, especially junior coaches, have to be constantly communicating with parents and family about the role their children are playing within the team and also the sporting development of their child.
It’s fair to say that often, without training and support, these conversations are extremely challenging for many coaches.
And it’s not just the parents of competitors the coach is regularly communicating with.
Coaches have to be in constant communication with other parts of the club, including, but not limited to:
- The club committee
- Other coaches, assistant coaches and team managers
- Potentially councils
- Friends and family
- Supporters, members and life members
- Opposition and officials
So clearly, the role of the coach is much, much larger than just rocking up for training twice a week and giving a “go get em!” speech on match day.
Not only are the tasks and roles of a coach, of even the smallest team, broad and complex but when you add the communication responsibilities, the magnitude of the role of coach starts to become apparent.
It also needs to be factored in that the coach is responsible for not just all of the above tasks at a team level but also for ensuring that each competitor:
- Understands what their personal goals are and have a plan on they will be achieved
- Is getting all the information advice and encouragement they require
- Are having fun and enjoying their sporting experience
- Are continually developing their skills and expertise of the sport and achieving their personal goals.
So often, regardless of the goals of a club, it is the coach who generally has the biggest influence on their club’s ability to achieve their goals.
With this in mind, it is mind-boggling to see how little many clubs think about selecting coaches and how they will develop them.
For many clubs, they simply count the number of teams, ask for parents to volunteer to fill the coaching positions and once the roles are filled the committee moves onto the next task. As far as the committee is concerned the “coach” is now responsible for the team and everything that goes with it and the committee’s job is done in this area for another year.
This is how sport has traditionally filled the role of coach but today, many clubs are taking a much more proactive approach to coaching.
Put simply, coaches are the core to your club achieving not just its membership and participation objectives but just about every other type of objective your club may have.