Reverse Coaching – Coaching in Reverse.

Reverse Coaching – Coaching in Reverse.



Coaching is one thing.

But Reverse coaching?

What the heck is Reverse Coaching? Has this Sports Coaching Brain guy gone completely mental?

What is Reverse Coaching?

Reverse coaching is an interesting concept that has probably been around as long as coaches have been coaching and as long as coaches have been coaching coaches how to coach: it’s just that no one has given it a name yet.

Reverse coaching is doing the opposite of what you would think would be the logical thing to do in a coaching situation (isn’t there a Seinfeld Episode about this??????).


Reverse Coaching Example 1:

  • Coaching situation: Playing a really great team in the next game:
  • Logical coaching decision: Over coach. Spend as much time as possible with the athletes. Go through every little detail with a fine tooth comb.
  • Reverse coaching decision: Do the opposite.

Why? Players are usually able to motivate themselves for a real competition. There is no need to over coach – to spend extra time working on all the minutiae of every aspect of the game. Players will know what it’s going to take to win against quality opposition and don’t need some lunatic with a stop watch, video player and a laptop in their face 24/7.

In tough situations against quality opposition, the players want a coach who is calm, composed, relaxed, confident and in control.


Reverse Coaching Example 2

  • Coaching situation: Athlete makes the Olympic team after winning their event at the selection trials;
  • Logical coaching decision: Work harder, buy some new equipment, change training and preparation and tapering to find an edge to win an Olympic Gold Medal;
  • Reverse coaching decision: Do the opposite.

Why? You would think it is logical to work harder once you make the Olympic team as you try to find a few milliseconds or millimetres and be in medal contention.

Yet, experienced campaigners at the Olympics tend to change very very little between their selection event and the actual Games.

They rely on the program that got them into the team to begin with and make only small tweaks and changes to things like training, tapering, equipment, diet and recovery.

They trust in their program, their coaching and themselves and stick to the core principles that have got them into the Olympic team and focus instead on the mental aspects of performance like relaxation, dealing with pressure, confidence and composure.


There is no way to explain Reverse Coaching.

This stuff isn’t in the text books. No one has researched it. No one teaches it.

Wisdom comes from judgement making the right decisions at the right time.

And judgement only comes from experience.

A lot of this Reverse Coaching stuff is basically the wisdom that comes by making intelligent judgements based on a lot of experience!



  • Reverse Coaching is above all – common sense – but as a wise man once said, “The funny thing about common sense is that it is not all that common”.
  • To quote George Costanza from Seinfeld, “If everything I have ever done is wrong, then the opposite of what I would usually do, must be right” – it’s a weird logic but hey, that’s coaching.
  • Don’t be afraid to Reverse Coach! Often your instinct, wisdom and gut feel are superior coaching tools to logic and rational thinking. Back yourself!!

Wayne Goldsmith

1 Comment

  • Wayne Goldsmith Posted June 25, 2009 10:38 am

    Coaching – less is more…more or less.

    The aim should be to coach effectively with the least amount of words, in the shortest possible time and not the reverse.

    Coaches should think of their communication like a great web page: clear, interesting, well designed, engaging and with enough specific information for about 30 seconds of attention!


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