How to Know if a Coach is Actually Coaching

In the past few months I’ve heard from some coaches that there are coaches out there who are training athletes but not doing a very good job.  Some of them are not even coaching. The problem being, that the parent who are watching them don’t know if the coach is doing a good job or not, so they’re able to get away with it.

In this blog we’d like to show you what to look out for, so you can see whether your child is actually being coached or not:


The Motivator

This coach is awesome at getting the kids pumped up and working really hard.  They’re the ones that shout encouragement from the side all game long.  Really useful attributes for a kid to be pushed along and get the very best of them when they play.

Are they coaching your child? No.  They’re motivating them.

coaching yelling at players


The Organiser

The organiser is the coach who has everything planned out well, everything is punctual, everything is as it should be and everyone knows what they’re doing.  This is also a great attribute of a coach, just like being the motivator, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re coaching.

A lot of the time teams will just scrimmage.  This is classic of the organiser coach.  They’ve put the players into teams and they’re playing an organised match with an adult looking over them.  But this isn’t coaching, it’s organising.

Are they coaching your child? No.  They’re organising them.


What You Need To Look For:

Here are some key questions to ask when you watch coaches.

  • What is my child learning during this exercise?
  • What are the key coaching points for this drill?
  • What impact is this having on my child’s development?

The sign of a good coach is if the athlete can tell you completely independently from the coach the following points:

  1. What they’re learning
  2. Why they’re learning it
  3. How they would apply it in a game situation.

If the coach has covered all of these bases, then you know that they’re coaching and not just organising and motivating.

The best coaches will make sure that every player is learning something in every exercise/activity/drill that they’re doing.

If the players have an objective of what they’re trying to do and they understand why they’re doing it, then they’re being coached.

When you see the athletes in scrimmages, ask yourself if they have an objective to improve upon during that scrimmage.  If they don’t then I’m afraid they’re being organised and not coached.

How to Use This Knowledge:

With these questions the idea is not to empower you to run up to every coach and criticise the job they’re doing.  After all, some coaches are literally volunteer parents who have generously devoted their time and energy to running a team because no-one else will.  With this your requirements for coaching should be ‘Is my kid having fun?’ and ‘Are they in a safe environment?’.

However, if you’ve paid good money to hire a private coach or are paying top dollar for a team coach, then you need to be getting value for money.  Asking these questions will provide you with the answers you need to know, in terms of whether you’ve employed the correct coach or not.  Hopefully this can help you pick the right coach to have an impact on your son or daughter and make them better at the sport of their choice.

feature image 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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