How to Develop World Class Coaches

How to Develop World Class Coaches


OK. Let’s talk about how to develop world class coaches.

Grab a piece of paper. On one side of the paper, write down the characteristics of a great coach.

Does your list include any or all of the following:

  • Outstanding communicator
  • Visionary
  • Leader
  • Innovator
  • Negotiator
  • Conflict resolver
  • Media manager
  • Public relations genius
  • Team developer
  • People manager
  • Technical / tactical / strategic skills of the highest order
  • Philosopher
  • Politician
  • Futurist

OK – now turn the page over and write down a list of all the coach education programs which cover the above?

Is this side of the paper blank? Yes? Then we can begin.

It’s not working.

Every sport in every nation is trying to figure out how to develop world class coaches. Some nations are spending millions of dollars / pounds / rubles trying to fast track the development of the next generation of high performance coaches……..and in general………everyone is failing.


  • Because in general most coach education programs are based on sports science. And as much as I personally love sports science, it represents about 2% of the day to day life of a world class coach.
  • Because in general, coach education programs and systems in most countries are designed by, driven by and managed by people who have not been world class coaches or understand the real needs of world class coaches.
  • Because in general, the coach education programs and systems in most countries are trying to find a formula for something that has no formula: to define something that is impossible to define: uniqueness.


Uniqueness is the key to greatness.

Think about the great coaches you have known, seen or read about. What was it about them that made them great?

They were different. They were unique. They saw a different future and worked hard to get there first. They ignored the status quo and their peers saying “that’s not the way we do it” and made their own path. They did things and thought things that no one else did – that’s what gave them the edge and made them successful.

And that’s the problem. The sporting bureaucracies of some of the world’s leading sporting systems are trying to mass produce uniqueness – to institutionalise greatness – to make genius “competency based”.

So what’s the solution?

  1. Treat high performance coaches the same way you treat world class athletes – as unique, individuals with real genius and a special talent.
  2. Provide individualised development opportunities based on the specific needs of each coach – give them a program that is not a program in the traditional sense – but a pathway that enhances their uniqueness and embraces their difference.
  3. Give them time. No world class athlete achieves their optimum performance level in their first year of competition. Similarly, world class coaches take time to develop and realise their full potential. It is unrealistic in the extreme to expect a young coach to be the best they can be in their first year of coaching.

Dare to be different.

Wayne Goldsmith

1 Comment

  • James Marshall Posted August 9, 2012 6:25 pm

    Hi Wayne,
    there was a great event in London the last week or so, run by Frank Dick: the Global Coaches House. I only made it for one day, but it was excellent. 2 people from Australia presented: Bill Sweetenham and Darlene Harrison.
    This was a great idea on how to learn from different people.

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