A good coach is positive, enthusiastic, supportive, trusting, focused, goal-oriented,
knowledgeable, observant, respectful, patient and a clear communicator.
10 Key Qualities
1. Understands the Sport and Leads by Example
To be able to teach effectively, the coach must have in-depth understanding of the
sport from the fundamental skills to advanced tactics and strategy. Coaches may
have experience playing, but not all former athletes make good coaches. Coaches
must plan for the season, know the progressive nature of training adaptation, know
the rules, and provide a simple, structured environment for athletes to succeed. Plan
– Prepare – Rehearse – Perform –Compete are the essence of good coaching. A
good coach should have a recognized qualification from the governing body for their
sport. Not every great coach will have the top level qualification, but every coach
should have some qualification.
2. Sponge for Knowledge / Profound Thinker / Visionary
While a good coach knows a great deal about a sport (s) he/she must continue to
learn and develop new training techniques. Staying up-to-date and informed of new
research, training and everything which supports the coaching process, attending
coaching clinics and camps, and seeking out tips from other coaches and athletes are
a sign of a great coach. Watching videos, reading books and studying periodicals can
also be helpful. Attending classes in a range of subjects such as sport psychology,
nutrition and exercise physiology is a great idea and is readily accessible for any
coach who wants to grow and improve.
3. Shares the Knowledge / Educates Others
Obtaining knowledge is important, but having the confidence to share and seek
others’ views, especially those outside of your sport, is a key quality. Being happy to
try new things and different ideas in the quest to improve performance. The best
coaches clearly understand they are there to educate the athletes. Most athletes
spend most of the time training on their own, so the more they really understand what
they are doing and why they are doing it the better they will train and practice.
4. Highly Energized and a Motivator
The successful coach is a motivator with a positive attitude and enthusiasm for the
sport and the athletes. The ability to motivate and inspire is part of the formula for
success. Getting athletes to believe in themselves and achieve come far easier from
some coaches than others. The coach who can motivate is able to generate the
desire to excel in their athletes. Motivation may mean keeping the practice fun, fresh
and challenging. When motivating a player, a good coach stresses trying to reach
performance goals, not outcome goals. A coach should make sure that athletes
understand that you can completely control your own effort and training, but can't
control what your opponent does or the outcome of every match. Fun and enjoyment
are the cornerstones to successful coaching.
5. Knows the Athlete, Values and Respects that Relationship
being aware of individual differences in athletes is an important ingredient in coaching
excellence. Yelling, screaming and other emotional displays may work for some
athletes but could have a devastating effect on others. Individualizing communication
and motivation to specific athletes is vital to successful coaching. Paying attention to
the athlete's emotions, strengths and weaknesses are the responsibility of a good
coach. Understanding every athlete is different, and have different ways of receiving
coaching information is key to good coaching, especially in a team game.
6. Is an Effective Communicator & Teacher
The effective coach is a coach who communicates well and exudes credibility,
competence, respect and authority. A coach should be able to explain ideas clearly.
Clear communication means setting defined goals, giving direct feedback and
reinforcing the key messages. Acknowledging success is also essential for good
communication. Language is a key part of coaching, and keeping everything simple
and easily understood is a sign of a successful coach.
7. Is a Good Listener
Part of communicating effectively is listening. A coach should be a compassionate
ear and should welcome the athletes comments, questions and input. The effective
coach will actively seek out information from athletes, and work in an environment
where athletes are encouraged to present ideas and thoughts to the coach. Finally,
the good coach will be flexible and will use player feedback to modify the training plan
8. Is Disciplined, Strong in Character and Integrity
Athletes need to adhere to a reasonable set of rules both on and off the field and if
these are ignored the coach is responsible for discipline. Trust between athlete and
coach is of paramount importance at all times and essential for successful coaching –
trust comes from the quality of the actions from both coach and player alike The
effective coach clearly states a code of conduct up front and adheres to it. When
violations do occur, discipline should follow. Evidence supports that for discipline to
effectively change behavior, it must be mild, prompt and consistent. Committed to
individual integrity, values and personal growth.
9. Leads by Example with very High Attitude to Hard Work
The effective coach also leads by example. A good coach adheres to the same rules
he/she expects of athletes. A coach who wants respect should also show respect. A
coach who expects athletes to remain positive needs to display a positive attitude. A
coach who wants athletes to listen should also listen to athletes.
10. Displays Commitment and Clear Passion for the Sport
The best coaches are in the profession because they love it. Besides being strongly
committed to the sports and success, the best coaches display a clear commitment to
looking out for the best interest of the individual athletes. Coaching in many ways is a
24/7 365-days-a-year job as top coaches live and sleep the art of coaching. Able to
think of every possible scenario and allow the athlete and coach to perform at their
best when the pressure is at its greatest.