The Top Ten Reasons Why Coaches Fail

The Top Ten Reasons Why Coaches Fail


The last post was about the things great coaches do that makes them so successful.

Now let’s look at the things that coaches do that stop them from realising their potential.

Here are The Top Ten Reasons Why Coaches Fail.

  1. Compromising; A coaching colleague of mine with multiple world and Olympic successes behind him has asked me to ensure that his grave-stone has two words engraved on it “No compromise”.  It is his view that fundamental to greatness in coaching is the reluctance to compromise for anyone, anything and at any time. Coaches who do not succeed have inevitably compromised during their preparation. It may have been compromise to an administrator to pacify a political situation. It may have been compromise to a player who felt training was too hard. Regardless of why, to again quote my colleague, “Compromise is the Cancer of Achievement. It erodes success and achievement like nothing else can”;
  2. Lacking belief in themselves: Coaches who fail lack belief in themselves. If you do not believe in your own ability to succeed and in your own capacity to be victorious, how can you inspire it in others? Confidence (not arrogance) is the catalyst for all great sporting success stories. People who say “I can” and “I will” and give everything they have to the achievement of the impossible, inevitably succeed;
  3. Copying others: Copying kills. Winners do things, think things and say things no else is prepared to. They are originals. They are unique. They are individuals. Coaches who copy other coaches only aim for mediocrity at best;
  4. Relying too much on learning from only within their own sport: These days, there are no secrets. Everyone in your sport knows what you know. Beginner coaches have access to the same information and ideas that high performance coaches do. So to find a winning edge, you have to look outside of your sport and indeed outside of sport into the corporate world, the military, into the academic world, the fields of science and medicine, the arts…anywhere where excellence thrives and people are achieving;
  5. Relying too much on emotion: Emotion in coaching is a killer. Emotion in sport is for the friends, family and fans of players, but for coaches and athletes, emotion is as unwanted as a serious injury. Poor coaches will rely on emotion to try and inspire performance. “Do it for our nation” with the flag flying in the background…or “You have to hate your opponent”: this emotion based coaching-babble rarely works and if it does it is only effective for a short time. Coaching is about being calm, confident, composed, clear and credible;
  6. Using the same programs over and over and over: There is no one way to win. There is no magic formula. No coach in any sport has created the infallible program which works every-time and in every situation. Every program – like every coach – is a work in progress and when you start believing that you have all the answers that you will have none;
  7. Failing to engage their athletes: Poor coaches coach at athletes; the great ones coach with athletes. They engage the hearts and minds of their athletes and inspire them to be even more than the athlete ever dreamed they could be. Athletes are your partners in performance: the more they are engaged with you and your program, the better your results will be;
  8. Lack of persistence: Coaches who stop trying must fail. I have a coaching colleague who has coached over 500 games of senior, professional football but despite coming close several times, he has yet to win a Premiership. He remains one of the hardest working, most innovative, most passionate and most committed coaches I have ever met. Never, ever, give up. You owe it to yourself and your athletes;
  9. Lack of vision: There is a reason why “vision” is called “vision”: because you can see it.  Great coaches can “see” the future of their sport, their athletes, their program and their own coaching and can communicate their vision effectively to everyone around them. Their ability to share their vision and to have others embrace it as their own, is paramount. Coaches who fail to succeed lack this vision-sharing ability: they think about now, they dwell on yesterday and the future is only as far as the next game;
  10. Not spending enough time maximising their strengths: People in all fields of endeavour succeed on their strengths. It is the things you are good at that will provide you with the opportunity to win. Coaches who spend too much time trying to overcome weaknesses and in doing so allow their strengths to be un-mastered, only end up being mediocre at everything. Discover what your strengths are and become the indisputable best in your sport in those areas. Success will come.

So what’s holding you back?

Wayne Goldsmith


  • Robin Clarkson Posted July 7, 2011 8:06 pm

    Hi Wayne

    What you have written I see all the time.

    I like the third point about copying. A lot of people copy because it is the easiest option and because they have no vision. If they do something original it means they might fail and thus it is easier to stay in the crowd and stay within the system where they remain comfortable. If you’re not prepared to fail, then you’re truely not prepared to win.

    As you’ve said before, most of the true innovation comes from those outside a system and it takes a brave person to front up and work outside the system.

    If you want to discover more about working to your strengths I would recommend reading Marcus Buckinghams work. It uncovers a whole new world in bringing your strentghs to bear.


    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted July 8, 2011 11:45 am

      Thanks Robin.

      If I was hiring a high performance coach I would test for creativity, innovation and their ability to look outside their sport for answers before I would even start to look at coaching qualifications or their formal training.

      Leadership is important. Passion is essential. Drive is vital.

      But coaches who can create new directions and innovate new ways of doing things are the real success stories of the future.

      Information and knowledge are easy to find: anyone, can find anything, anytime, anywhere and for free so coaches who are relying on their knowledge and experience will find themselves unemployed in the future.

      The future is for those who make it.


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.