8 Steps to Deliver a Brilliant Private Coaching Session

In an earlier blog post at StriveFar, we looked at 6 steps to prepare for your private coaching session.

Now the time has come to actually do the session, here’s some tips that will help you deliver a really awesome private coaching session.


1. Punctuality – Arrive 15 minutes early

Like it or not, your level of punctuality shows a lot about your character.  Check out the importance of punctuality. Have all of the coaching drills that you have planned set out before the athlete arrives.  If you’re early, set up and ready to go, this does a few things:

  1. Shows that you’re organised, trustworthy and ready to go.
  2. Shows that you’ve planned your session.
  3. Makes the athlete feel important.
  4. Shows the parents that you care about this session, you’re taking it seriously and you want to do well.

Your first impression is extremely important – make it a good one.


2. Build a Rapport

Quickly introduce yourself to both the parent and the athlete with a firm handshake.  Have a short and friendly conversation with the parent to build rapport.

To build a long-term relationship it is essential that you know your parent and athlete as well as possible.  Of course, always be genuine in your interest and conversation.rapport-building

But find that balance between chatting and getting down to business.  You’re there ultimately to provide a service.  The rapport building with the parent can also wait till after the session.

Speak to the athlete about things that aren’t coaching or training based.  Get to know them on a personal level so you can work out how best to motivate and coach them in the session.

3.  Share the training objectives and show the session plan.

The best athletic trainers go on a journey side by side with their athletes.  They take the athlete with them, rather than tell them the way.  Whether it be students or athletes, people learn much better if they know where they’re going and why they’re going there.  You have to make the athlete part of that process.

This will improve how invested they’re.  It increases their ownership of the session and makes them part of the decision-making process.

Share the training objectives and enable your athlete to get excited about the session and increase their motivation.

4.  Use your passion and expertise to deliver a fun, well paced, structured and progressive session that focuses on the athlete’s objectives.

Well this is probably THE most important aspect of the session.  This is all you.  This is where you use all of your playing and coaching knowledge to transfer your knowledge to the athlete in the most effective way!

Make it fun!

Whoever you’re coaching, the first thing it needs to be, is fun!  If it’s not fun, you will quickly lose the client and they won’t be coming back for more.

Pacing of a lesson needs to be understood properly too.  People often confuse a well-paced session with one that is a quick pace.  Dependant on what you’re doing, you’ll have to slow down or increase the pace of the session so the athlete gets the best out of the training drills.

5.  Video analysis

I LOVE video analysis, and so do my athletes.  Who doesn’t find it interesting to look at themselves when they’re performing a skill?!

Video analysis shouldn’t be overused, but when you’re really trying to refine a technique, when your athlete often thinks they’re doing one thing when actually they’re doing something else entirely.  This is when video analysis can be very powerful.

video-analysisComparing themselves to a perfect technique is also very powerful.  Fortunately there are now lots of video analysis apps that coaches can download for free.  These really help you to get into the detail of improving technique.

Check out these apps:

6.  Why you are doing certain drills?

This may sound obvious but it is surprising how often coaches forget to tell athletes why they’re doing something.

I once taught one of my athletes the lofted and the ground backspin pass.  He refined the technique and was able to complete it with success.  But then I asked him where, how and when he would use this technique in a game and he literally had no idea!  I immediately back-tracked to show him how this technique could be applied to match situations and the context in which it could be used e.g. angles of play, whether to play a curl ball or direct ball etc.

This suddenly made it clear to him why he was doing such a skill.  Rookie mistake on my part.

With individual coaching, there isn’t the same opportunity to set the match context of when certain techniques or skills should be used, so make sure you apply this for every thing you coach.

7.  Teach them how to teach themselves

One of my main objectives when I coach is to enable the athlete to analyse and coach themselves concerning the technical points of a skill.  This is because I want the athlete to go away and practise on their own.

teach-yourselfBut if they’re practicing the wrong technique and are not able to identify correctly what they need to improve, then their independent practise is all a bit pointless.

Asking the athlete lots of open questions to assess if they understand a skill is a key way to find out if they know what they should be doing.  I often ask them to coach me on how to perform a skill correctly.  This is a great way to test what they know and ensure their understanding.

Once they get to a certain understanding, after every shot or pass,  instead of me doing all the coaching, I will get the athlete to correct their technique.  This is another powerful way to improve their understanding and test their knowledge.  Plus they love it!

8.  Finish on a high

I love this and always do this at the end of the session.  For the last 5-10 mins I will do something that the athlete enjoys the most.  Usually this is some sort of shooting drill or 1 on 1.

It gives the athlete lots of confidence in terms of attacking and ‘risking it’ and allows them to play very naturally without tons of heavy technique refinement.

Like I said previously, it’s essential your athletes have fun, so finishing on a high is a great way to end the session! Make them leave with lots of confidence so they can go to their next game or practise with nothing but positive thoughts going through their head!

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Finish on a high.  Encourage your athlete to ‘Risk it’!

Private coaching is exceptionally fun and rewarding.  If it’s done well, you have the opportunity to really impact an athlete.  Enjoy your coaching!

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Played with Coventry City F.C. in the English Premier League and England Under 18 Schoolboy Football team. 13 years in the Sports and Education industries as an Athletic Director, Head of Physical Education, Teacher and Coach. Extensive international experience in Europe (UK), Africa (Tanzania), Asia (Singapore) and now permanently based in USA (Denver, Colorado). Nick is co-founder of StriveFar, an online marketplace that connects athletes with private coaches. StriveFar’s goal is to eliminate the headaches and help coaches grow their private coaching business by finding athletes, scheduling the sessions and collecting the money so coaches can focus on what they love to do, developing the athletes. Nick’s passion has always been to develop and inspire young people through the medium of sport. He loves to share and promote his commitment to all things sport. Nick always tries to motivate young people to be their best and tries to exemplify a positive, healthy, driven and energetic lifestyle. He has developed Athletic and Educational programs from scratch for private international schools, combining clear objectives with a strong use of strategy, planning, organizational and communication skills.

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