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Posted in: General

Top 10 Qualities You Need to be a Coach

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  • Blake


    I have just written an article for the UK Coaching website, entitled ‘Top 10 Qualities You Need to be a Coach’, detailing those key transferable skills and abilities that can be applied to any sphere of coaching.

    The problem with such listicles is that your hands are tied to some extent. ‘Top 11 Qualities You Need to be a Coach’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it while, for brevity reasons, Top 20 Qualities is an avalanche of information to process in one read.

    Here are my top ten (in no particular order) and please do read the article as the pearls of wisdom were largely collated from conversations, interviews and advice posted by ConnectedCoaches members: communication, questioning, self-reflection, knowledge, organising (planning and preparation), enthusiasm, sense of humour, creativity, active listening, emotional intelligence.

    What am I missing? If you had to choose an 11th skill (resilience? growth mindset?), what would it be and why?

  • andrewb62

    Interesting list - wouldn't argue with anything.

    But as to items that I might add?

    • athlete-centred / "servant leadership"
      • I would promote this to a top-10 item - it is hinted at in the "person-centred philosophy (under Questioning), but "I am the athlete's coach, they are not my players" seems an essential mantra.
    • solution focus ("how can you do...?")
      • very important for the coach to have a positive outcome in mind - not just "you're doing it wrong, do it like this", but any/every intervention should solve a genuine, pressing challenge
    • environmental / ecological engineer
      • I'm very taken by the Ecological Dynamics/Constraints-Led Approach - coaching is about modifying the environment and allowing the athlete to "evolve" and adapt to develop new skills & behaviours.
  • lthorp

    I think there's a lot of good points in the article, Blake. As you say I'm sure there are loads and resilience is a good one. I also like the points Andrew has added above and think some of mine are along the same lines.

    Knowing the difference between praise and affirmation - this links to your communication and questioning sections. As coaches, we need to see strengths first rather than problems that need fixing. Affirmation drives intrinsic motivation and praise creates, as described by Stephen Rollnick, "an over reliance similar to the effect of an addictive drug".

    Observation and Adaptability - I think this links to active listening and emotional intelligence. As coaches, we need to know each individual and then be able to really be listening and seeing what is going on in front of you. Then you must be able to adapt to be able to coach what is in front of you and not just to your plan. Sometimes you may have to go off-piste to make sure they get lots of outcomes from a session rather than you ticking off what is on your plan. All coaches need to think on their feet and be comfortable with the uncomfortable. We also have to be ok with the fact that the outcomes may not always be technical, tactical or physical. Psychological and social outcomes can be just as (if not more) valuable outcomes from a session.

    BIG ONE: Ability to shelve your ego - we need to be player-centred and supportive. It's not about you, it's not you as a coach who is winning or losing, it's not your session. It's about them, it's their opportunity, it's their decision to make based on what they see and it's their session or match.

  • Blake

    Brilliant guys, thank you  Andrew Beaven and  Luke Thorp for your 'quality' suggestions. More gems for the chest.

  • lwhitaker

    Our Coaching in the UK research also looked at the most important qualities that make a great coach. The top five to come out of the research were: 

    • give constructive feedback and corrections (52%)
    • are friendly and approachable (52%)
    • create a warm and welcoming environment (42%)
    • improve peoples' skills/ability (42%)
    • build good relationships and rapport (38%)

    If you are interested in finding out more, you can access the main and summary reports here:  https://www.ukcoaching.org/resources/topics/research/coaching-in-the-uk

  • cchapman

    UK Coaching recorded a podcast with Stuart Lancaster and Ed Coughlan which will be released soon.  Stuart mentioned leadership within the coaching practice.  Here is Stuart's deeper view on Leadership

  • cchapman

    Have you seen this blog on affirmations Luke?

  • lthorp

    Thanks for the recommendation, Chris. I'll certainly have a look at it.

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