Contrary to coach-focused styles where personal success and winning at all costs are top priorities, athlete-centred coaching focuses on each individual’s growth. The athlete’s needs take precedence; they are supported, inspired, challenged, empowered, valued, and evaluated. Self-motivation, self-organisation, and self-assessment abilities are developed within athletes who know their success, with support from a caring coach, depends a lot on their own personal effort.
Rather than being a dictator or instructor, the coach acts as a manager and a guide. The coach provides challenging activities that tests abilities and encourages tactical and strategic problem solving. The coach introduces concepts athletes might use and allows them to train in an open, permissive, and free-to-fail environment, exploring which works best for them. The coach helps athletes become self-aware, analytical, reflective and adaptive. It is intended that athletes will carry these skills and lessons with them to higher levels of participation, and indeed, into their non-sporting lives.
Some key elements of this approach are:
- Transfer of responsibility of ownership for learning to the athlete
- By contributing to decisions made, athletes better understand the game (input, evaluate, direct, analyse)
- Improves determination and adds an accountability factor; players are invested in and responsible to the team
- Adds value to the process-based approach to learning
- Use of methods that match the athletes’ needs and preferences – no single, universal template
- Athletes have choice and influence the direction taken; what they want to do, not necessarily what the coach plans
- Athletes support each others’ progress, positively and constructively
- Coach continues to analyse and evaluate, soliciting input of all stakeholders, and helps maintain coherence, direction, and positive spirit