Whether you’re a former player or just know the sport really well, you’ve no doubt realised there is more to coaching than the tactical and technical aspects.

Coaching is about people. Below are 11 tips that might improve your coaching.

Please feel free to add any others that would benefit a coach’s athletes.

1) Be the example. This includes being on time, ready, fit, healthy, appropriately dress, well-mannered, organised, etc.


2) Coach the person, not the performance. Remember, athletes are people first.


3) Coach to be redundant. Unfortunately, there are too many coaches who do the opposite in the hope that they can ride on the coat tails of the athlete’s success.


4) Get to know your athletes as people. Spend time with them, chat with them out of training times, about other topics (not training!). You may be surprised at the results when they see how much you care about them.


5) Repeat Daily: ‘Coaching is not about me’. Very few people care how much you know about the sport you’re involved with. And even fewer enjoy hearing your voice when they could be playing and moving and learning and competing.


6) State less. Question more. Watch engagement shoot through the roof when you change from a ‘stating’ paradigm to a ‘questioning’ paradigm.


7) Professional Develop. Plan, budget and book conferences and symposiums for 2014. How can you expect your athletes to learn and improve from a someone who isn’t learning and improving themselves?


8) Allow time for Questions. Information sharing should be a two-way street. Also, don’t be a ‘question-answerer’, this defeats the whole purpose!


9) Maximise ‘Time on Task’. The more your athletes ‘do’ the more they will remember. You ‘telling’ them is probably the least effective way they could learn.


10) Read more. I aim to spend an equal amount of time reading journals (high science, low practicality), blogs (high practicality, low science) and books (somewhere in between). Too much of any from one domain isn’t beneficial in the long run.


11) Learn from other sports. Each sport has aspects it traditionally does well and aspects that could be improved. Try this: if you’re involved in very physical, team orientated sport spend a day with someone from a skill-dominant, individual sport. You’ll be grateful you did.

It is not uncommon for many of us to assume that those that are working at the highest level of their sport must be ‘high performance’.

Likewise, it is not uncommon for converse of that assumption to occur: those that are working at the developmental or amateur level are not ‘high performance’.

However, in the four years since initiating PropelPerform, where we have worked with a wide array of National and State Sporting Organisations, private and public schools, clubs and teams, it’s apparent that:

High Performance is Not a Level of Competition, but a Mindset.

Some of the characteristics of this mindset are listed below:

1) There is a Reason for Everything

‘High Performance’ is where everything is based on evidence.

‘Evidence’ does not only mean ‘peer reviewed’, though that is a good place to start. Evidence can also come from experience (minimum experience required to use this as a reason is ten years).

Under critical examination, there must be a justification for what is being done (Content) and the manner with which it is being done (Intent).

Some reasons that are not High Performance:

  • Because that is the way we have always done it.
  • Because another team/coach uses it.
  • Because it looks good.


2) Resources are Optimised

More coaches, more equipment, more staff, more time training, more facilities… This is not necessarily High Performance.

Too often we see resources wasted and this is the antithesis of High Performance.

High Performance is where budgets are stretched, where creative schemes are developed to exploit every advantage and minimise every disadvantage.


3) Everyone is prepared for the upcoming session/competition

High Performance is when Athletes are physically and mentally switched on to maximise every second of training; when every Coach is exquisitely clear on what they need to achieve and how to achieve it; when the whole Team knows their role.

Not having a plan or not being prepared indicates you’re not High Performance.

Try this 3,2,1 Heuristic:

3 Hours of Planning, 2 Hours of Preparation, 1 Hour of Training.


4) Do Exactly What’s Needed (even if it’s less)

More time with the coach…. More time on the track… More time in the gym… More time analyzing…

The perception is that High Performance is about starting earlier and finishing later, where the reality is that doing the job, hitting that PB or accomplishing that task and then switching off, going home, recovering.

It’s often easier to do more than it is to do it better.

And High Performance is about doing it better.

Don’t deliver inefficient mediocrity.


5) Everyone is the Best Person Available

Not a mate, not a ‘name’, not a ‘profile’, not a ‘better the devil you know’ but someone who is the best fit for that role (under that budget, in that time line).


6) Decisions are Performance-based, not Ego-based

Enough said.


Grant Jenkins is a Physical Performance Coach who keeps as close to these characteristics as possible. Contact him here or follow him on Twitter @Grant_Jenkins

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