From One Size fits All to One Size fits One: The Future of Coach Education.

From One Size fits All to One Size fits One: The Future of Coach Education.


Remember the old days?

Coaches would come along to a Level One course or Beginning Coaching Workshop.

They would sit there for a few days listening to hours and hours of information about “the art of coaching” and the “physiology of sport” and “the biomechanics of sport” and “the psychology of sport” and “periodisation and planning for sport” while watching hundreds and hundreds of blue slides with yellow text as a seemingly endless procession of presenters droned on and on and on about their experiences in coaching and how “if you ever want to be a good coach you must always…..” and “to be a good coach you must never, ever……”

Well, those were the old days. They have gone forever. And good riddance.

From One Size fits All to One Size fits One: The Future of Coach Education.

 It ain’t working.

The way we have done coach education is not working. It just isn’t.

And how do we know?


The Big Four: Commencing, Completing, Continuing, Climbing.

Around the world and in practically all sports, the numbers of coaches doing the “Big Four” is declining:

  1. There are fewer people commencing coach education courses.
  2. The percentage of people who complete coach education courses is lower than ever.
  3. The numbers of coaches who were once accredited or licensed then continue to coach by renewing their qualifications is very low.
  4. And the number of coaches who upgrade their accreditation, e.g. climbing from a Level 1 to Level 2 is also very low.

So what does that tell us?

It tells us very clearly that what we are doing isn’t working.


The Coach Education “Restaurant”

Imagine you were running a restaurant that was showing all the signs coach education around the world is currently showing.

You have very few customers and your customer numbers are declining.

The customers you do have, don’t finish their meals or stay for dessert.

And once they leave the restaurant they never come back. And they certainly wouldn’t recommend your restaurant to anyone else.

You have three choices:

  1. Keep doing what you are doing and go broke.
  2. Change a few items on the menu or the decor and hope for improvement.
  3. Listen to your customers and ask them what dining experience they want from you.


The McDonald’s Lesson

Think back ten years ago. McDonald’s were, for the first time their history, at risk of failure. As the messages about healthy eating, obesity, diabetes, heart disease etc started to make a big impact on the community and the fast food restaurant options (their competitors) increased dramatically, McDonald’s needed to make some serious changes or risk losing their dominant world wide market share.

So what could McDonald’s do?

  1. Keep their menu the same and go broke.
  2. Change an item or two on the menu and hope for improvement.
  3. Listen to their customers and offer a wide range of new products, (salads, fruit, juices), McCafe (fresh coffee, muffins, breakfast choices), better value for money and better product labelling (kilo-joule / calorie data and fat content).

Regardless of your view about McDonald’s and their core business, the lesson is clear: the customer is king! To survive in any business, you need to listen to your customers (i.e. the people in your sport who are considering commencing or continuing coaching) and respond to their needs.


Value Added Coach Education

The single biggest question all coach educators have to ask themselves is “what am I offering that adds value to my customers and clients (coaches)?”

The answer is NOT in delivering more information or content. Anyone can get anything anywhere anytime and for free. Coach education is not about delivering content – not anymore and never again.

The answer is NOT putting information or content on line. Hundreds of sports all over the world have made the same mistake of converting their hard copy coach education materials to electronic format and uploading it to a web site or information portal. All this does is make the same content that people don’t want more accessible. And again – anyone can get anything anywhere anytime and for free.

So what is the answer?


From Content Based to Context Relevant

Forget the days of delivering content at coaching courses. Those days are over. Gone. Kaput. Over. Finished. Dead. Forget it.

Content (information) is the easiest thing in the world to get: for the third time – anyone can get anything anywhere anytime and for free – so the coaching courses based on power point presentations, 300 page workbooks and two day classroom data-delivery-fests are a thing of the past.

What people want now – what people demand now – is learning which is specific and relevant to them as individuals and to help them coach more effectively in the coaching environment in which they coach.

Now, the coach education “game” is about context: about helping individuals coaches access quality, relevant, reliable information they need when and where they need it and in a way which directly impacts on them, their coaching and their athletes.


Does this really surprise you?

Ask anyone who has coached for a year or two this question….“how do you as a coach, learn?”

What will their top five answers be?

“I learn…..

  1. By coaching;
  2. By working with and learning from my athletes;
  3. By observing and working with other coaches;
  4. By accessing the specific information that I need when and where I need it, i.e. by problem solving;
  5. By thinking and reflecting on my coaching and striving to do it better.

How many will answer, “By attending one of my sport’s coaching courses”?

And that’s why we are in the mess we are in.

For too long we have relied on training, educating and developing coaches the “old way” – through courses, clinics, seminars, conferences and workshops and not provided them with the opportunity to learn the way they wanted to learn. Is it really any surprise that the numbers of coaches in the “The Big Four”: Commencing, Completing, Continuing and Climbing has declined so dramatically in recent years?

We – those responsible for training, educating and developing coaches, knew the “old-ways” were failing but we didn’t do anything to change them.


So you want to change your coach education system from Content based to Context relevant…….what’s the next step?

So you want to change the way you GTR coaches???? That’s Gain, Train and Retain! What’s the next step?

  1. Ask your coaches what they want and need from you.
  2. Design, develop and deliver a coachTED program (coach Training, Education and Development) which consistently delivers what your coaches want and need.
  3. Make a commitment to continuously change, improve and enhance your coachTED program to meet the changing needs of your coaches.

Sounds simple doesn’t it! So what are you waiting for?



The race is on!

Sporting organisations all over the world are desperate for qualified, experienced, well-trained, committed and talented coaches. Coaches are in short supply and ways of gaining, training and retaining them are being debated, designed and developed everywhere.

Who will come up with the best solution? That’s simple.

The best solution to the coaching conundrum will be the sport who listens to their “clients” (their coaches) and delivers a coachTED program (coach training, education and development) program which meets their clients needs.

Are you listening?


Wayne Goldsmith














  • James Marshall Posted April 20, 2012 10:52 pm

    Hi Wayne,
    very useful post. Definitely the way forward. I find a balance between regular snippets of 10 mins or so with a once or twice a year “immersion” useful.

    That allows me to keep fresh, then reflect properly on that immersion and adapt over the next 6 months.

  • Drew Blackman Posted May 8, 2012 3:02 pm

    Hi Wayne, great article. I have recently sat my level 1 coaching course for rugby league, as it is compulsary to coach junior rugby league. this was a 2 day classroom type session with power point and the like.

    However 2 days after the last session I was fortunate enough to spend the day with St George Illawarra Dragons at their training sessions. From this day I learnt 1000 times more about coaching then I did in the other session.



    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted May 8, 2012 7:19 pm

      Thanks Drew.

      Seems to be a world wide trend – away from coaching courses, conferences, workshops and clinics and more towards in-service training, practical learning experiences and relevant development opportunities.

      Great that you did the course: now the learning begins – welcome to a life long love of learning.


  • Rugby League Media Posted June 3, 2012 8:18 pm

    Great post Wayne. I believe it all depends on what type of learner we are. Some of us are visual learners and some learn from more traditional methods such as reading. I personally like providing a player centred approach with early demonstartion. Classroom approach can restrict the learning experience.

Add your comment or reply. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: All Content on this site is Copyright Wayne Goldsmith.