Sports Coaching in 2030 – Future (coach) Shock – Where will Sports Coaching be in 2030?

Sports Coaching in 2030 – Future (coach) Shock – Where will Sports Coaching be in 2030?

What will sports coaching look like in 20 years?

How will a training session differ in 2030 to a training session in 2010?

How will our coaching have changed, improved and evolved over the next 20 years?

It will have changed so much that it will be barely recognisable.

The future is already here. And it is a scary place for those living in the past.

Are you ready for it? Will you race towards it? Will you resist it?

Read on.

Where is the world heading?

To see where Sports Coaching is going – look at where the world is going:

  1. People can access just about any information, anywhere, anytime and for free;
  2. People are happy to share ideas, information and innovations with their colleagues, friends and the public on line for free;
  3. People have unprecedented access to learning tools, articles, on-line video, slide presentations, audio files and research journals – and mostly for free;
  4. People are adopting a “do it yourself” approach to many things – look at the abundance of TV shows, web sites, blogs and on line information available on any topic – average, ordinary people are becoming experts at all things;
  5. People are happy to work cross disciplinary and “have a go” at things, rather than seek the opinions and views of experts and professionals.


Coaching knowledge – is – for all intents and purposes – worthless.

When what you have is easily and freely available to everyone – it is worthless.

How much would diamonds be worth it you could find them anywhere, anytime and they were as common as ordinary pebbles? They might still look great, sparkle in the sun, be incredibly useful but they would be worth nothing.

And your coaching knowledge – all those “secret” training sets, all those “unique training systems”, all those “miracle plays” that you have built your coaching career around….are also worth nothing. Scary.


Don’t believe me?

Go to YouTube –  and search for videos demonstrating the skills of your sport. Off you go – I’ll wait right here.

OK – you’re back. What did you find out?

That many of the techniques, strategies and ideas of your sport are now available free on-line, anytime, anywhere for anyone and for free?

Funny about that. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

Even very traditional sports like martial arts – where techniques have been kept within a close circle of experts and handed down through traditional teaching methods and structured learning environments are freely available in video form at YouTube. And people are using YouTube to learn martial arts – and piano and Greek and Tennis and how to build a fence and how to service a car……………..the knowledge you need to be an expert is everywhere – and it’s free.

So you might counter my argument with a yesbut – a “Yes, but…” and try to convince me that your sport is different, that athletes need coaches, that the people doing the free YouTube videos about your sport are not the best people, that your sport is a people sport…..yada, yada, yada – I have heard them all.


People don’t care what or who is providing the information – only that they can get it right now and for free.

The average person does not care about the quality of the source or their qualifications or the University they studied at – they just want the information, they want it now, they want it to look good, they want to feel it is pitched at a level they can understand and they don’t want to pay for it.

If you want to know where sports coaching will be in 20 years – the starting point is to ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What do I have to offer my clients (athletes, players) other than knowledge of the sport, e.g. skills, drills, tactics, strategies, physical preparation techniques because anyone get these things anywhere, anytime for free!
  2. What will my clients need in 20 years that only I can provide, i.e. accepting that your knowledge is no longer what your clients will need.
  3. What unique talents, gifts and abilities do I possess that will ensure my coaching future – again apart from what I know?

OK, OK – there will be some of you thinking, “That’s all very interesting, but that will not happen in my sport. My sport is different”.

Try to get your head around this then.


Sport…’s only one very small part of a very big world.

Sport – as an institution and as an industry – represents about 1% of that big box we call society.

And the most popular sport in the world – football (soccer) makes up the vast majority of that 1%.

So your sport – particularly if it is one of the traditional Olympic sports like swimming, track and field, field hockey, rowing, cycling etc makes up a fraction of the institution which is sport.

We know that trends in some of the big institutions like health, like education, like the environment, like energy and like communications are all heading towards the open sharing of ideas, collaborative research methods and the collective sharing of knowledge, information and experiences.

So hanging to the “my sport will not change” thinking is like trying to hold back the Ocean with one grain of sand… is futile.

This has enormous implications not just for sports coaches but for sport coach educators. Coach education needs a total re-think and re-structure.

And the reason is simple.

All sports coaching education and training programs are content based. We bring coaches together for a day or two, we throw lots and lots of content, ideas, information and sports specific knowledge at them, assess their ability to learn and apply that knowledge and call them “coaches”.

Now think about Sports Coaching 2030 – If knowledge is worthless and ideas and information are available anytime, anywhere and for free, who is going to go to a coaching course? No one! No one unless sports coach educators completely change they way they go about educating and developing coaches.



  1. To steal a line from the environmental warriors –“think global; act local”. Be aware of world wide trends in communication, in education and in the way ideas, information and innovations are being discussed and shared but make it relevant to your own program, your own coaching and your own philosophies;
  2. You can’t change the world – but you can change your world – and you can achieve this by being open to the possibilities and embracing of the new opportunities provided by the acceleration of learning that is currently possible;
  3. Imagine a world where knowledge is worthless and your current beliefs about gaining a competitive edge being in “what” you know are wrong… will you be a successful coach? How will you continue to find a performance edge for your athletes and players?

In future posts I will discuss the amazing opportunities that the future presents..for those who are ready for it.

Wayne Goldsmith


  • Jeremy Pryce Posted April 20, 2010 7:22 pm

    Interesting. And very relevant. I´m looking forward to reading more. As you say, knowledge can be found in a variety of places and for free but in my opinion you can´t just copy techniques. You have to be able to apply them in a hostile environment (execution) and that means managing your states. The future is in being able to communicate to people how thay can manage their states. CBT and stuff like that. This sets great coaches apart from the rest.

    As Sir Alex Fergusson says : “They can copy us, but they can´t be us”.

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted April 21, 2010 6:39 am

      Thanks JP.

      I did a workshop for a medical group recently and asked them, “imagine that patients could prescribe their own medications – so they didn’t need you to write those barely legible words on your script pad – what ELSE have you got to offer them?”.

      Someone in the audience responded, “information” – I said “worthless – information is everywhere”.

      Someone else said, “knowledge” – I said, “again – almost worthless, free and easy to get”.

      One person said, “my ability to listen, to understand and to provide the inspiration to change their lifestyle” – “Absolutely” was my response.

      We need to get coaches thinking like this – forget impressing people with knowledge, sports science and technology – give them more of “you”!

      Thanks again,


  • Tim Horton Posted April 20, 2010 11:59 pm

    Hi Wayne,
    very interesting and relevant topic. As the CEO of an online Sports Training company this is an issue I am grappling with. What do coaches need and how can we as an online training company add value to the information we provide and most importantly empower the coach to use and make it relevant to their needs that day?

    I am also reading an interesting business book called “Free, The Future of a Radical Price” by Chris Anderson which goes into great detail about how free has been used as a critical tool in adding value and creating revenue. Information in it’s many forms is the most logical product of this concept in today’s wired world. Since we are still in the infancy of the online sports education market I believe the business model will go through a full business cycle in the next 10 years let alone 20. It should be a wild ride and I believe success will go to those who can continue to predict how coaches want to consume the content and how you can make it as relevant as possible.

    Look forward to more of your insights on this topic.
    Tim Horton
    CEO and Founder

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted April 21, 2010 6:33 am

      Hi Tim.

      Thanks for the comment.

      I grapple with this myself everyday.

      My ideas are my business. If I give them away, I have no business. But if I don’t get the ideas out there, I also have no business. So I have had to come to terms with the “free” information economy in my own mind.

      A colleague of mine Leigh Blackall – who is a genius on this stuff – has convinced me to share, collaborate and partner with others in growing ideas and thinking. Check out some of his ideas at

      The ONLY reservation I have and the only thing that really annoys me is when people in sports industry steal the ideas, pass them off as their own and don’t give me any credit.

      Again, another person I listen to Hugh Macleod at talks about this and laughs it off saying that mediocre people do this in all industries and for us creative types the key is to ignore, them out perform them and they get exposed for the pretenders they are.

      Appreciated and valued your post and enjoyed your web site.


  • Robin Russell Posted April 21, 2010 12:27 am

    Absolutely spot on Wayne!I am a keen subscriber to your RSS feed

    Your blog validated some of the remarks I made in my presentation to the NSCAA Convention( National Soccer Coaches of Amercia) in January 2008

    If knowldege is open to all – surely the role of the coach educator is to help students HOW to coach and less emphasis on WHAT to coach?

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted April 21, 2010 6:25 am

      Thanks Robin.

      I loved the presentation by the way on SlideShare.

      This is a hard post for a lot of people to “get” – particularly coach educators – who have made their living and their business selling content. When content is worthless (i.e. free and easily accessible for anyone, anytime, anywhere), what do they have left to sell?

      As you say, the entire coach education industry has to change – and for that matter so do university programs, school education….just about everything which has been content driven has to have a good hard look at itself.

      Thanks again,


  • leigh blackall Posted April 21, 2010 8:22 am

    Thanks for the mention. Interesting to think about this in the sport coaching context, and I like the fun angle you put on these over serious questions. One thing I might point to are the multi dimensions of “free”. There’s free as a gift based society – a little like you desribe, and there’s free as a social good – such as wikiedia and the principles of open source software, and then there’s free for marketing reasons – like. Apple and Microsoft, or universities soon. I worry about the last camp. The moment they work out how to capture a market, there’s huge profits to be made from the first two. Bye buy free…

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted April 21, 2010 8:59 am

      Thanks Leigh.

      I think the “balance” point we are all looking for in private industry is the “give free – give me” line.

      Where is the line in each market which separates what people expect / demand for free and what are they willing to give me to pay the bills. This line will continually shift as people demand more and more from the free marketplace. So the challenge for all of us is to continually strive to be creative, innovative and relevant for our markets as they shift their demands.

      Challenging but rewarding times ahead: for those who are ready for it and have real creativity, the sky is the limit.

      Thanks again mate.


  • leigh blackall Posted April 21, 2010 9:23 am
  • Russell Parsons Posted April 21, 2010 2:51 pm

    Hi Wayne,

    Spot on as usual. The days of doing what we’ve always done, perhaps a bit better, and expecting the same result, let alone improvement are gone .. have been for some time .. as is lamenting the status of our (any) sport .. no one is listening. My interest is involvement, not reflection on the past.

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted April 22, 2010 6:34 am

      Thanks Russell.

      Like all industries, sport is evolving.

      In the 60s and 70s we knew just about nothing.

      In the 80s with the focus on coach education and sports science around the world, a few people started to discover more about the industry of sport.

      In the 90s, the education models become a little more sophisticated and widely available across the world but still the information was available to relatively few people, e.g. sports scientists, university students, people doing coach education studies etc etc.

      Then in this century, ideas, information, innovations are freely available to almost any one, anywhere, anytime: everyone knows what you know.

      We have moved from a knowledge based industry to a creativity based industry and a coach’s success will come from being unique and creating new ideas, new directions and new innovations faster than their competition.

      To me, this is the best time of all to be involved in sport and we should see some incredible breakthroughs in the next ten years….if we embrace a genuinely creative approach to learning and improvement.

      Thanks again,



  • Alicia Parr Posted April 23, 2010 4:08 am

    “… will you be a successful coach? How will you continue to find a performance edge for your athletes and players?”

    My opinion? Coaching/mentoring adapted to the individual (even when coaching a team)– including personal motivations, preferences, ways of learning and competitive context (athletic background and nearness of key events). The ability to do these things can be learned and shared freely too, but not everyone is willing or capable.

  • Rob Geurtsen Posted May 13, 2010 10:16 am

    Geeez, this is hollow blather. You are riding the global wave and convincing an audience they don’t know nothing yet, and you are the one who holds the key to the future.

    Give an idea to what it is you are pointing at positively. You are missing the point. Just re-read Alicia’s point for a start.
    Then look at all the things persoanl bio-medical because that is where you can guide and support your athletes unto a path of more effective training.

    It is not about knowledge, but about information gathered from and about an individual athlete applied to the training and coaching of that individual athlete.

    Though I think you are missing the point I am looking forward ’cause the problem is a real one and I am curious from ideas from any angle.

    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted May 14, 2010 7:39 am

      Thanks Rob.

      Always a pleasure to hear from a good thinker. I think you need to read a lot more of my blog – particularly the Engagement Factor and some other posts and you will find that we agree on most things.

      If you do take a closer look, you will find I am all about working with people, individualising the approach to performance, collaborating with athletes and not coaching “at them” – and believe sports science is one small part of the overall picture.

      Please read a little more, then let’s continue the debate.



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