Be a Better You

Be a better youPhysical developmentSkill development

The focus of this learning is to help coaches be the best they can be on any given day.  We often talk about creating systems and squads that are athlete or performer centred but we must not forget to look after ourselves and give enough time and energy to develop as coaches but also as people too.


Self awareness

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom – Aristotle

Self-awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation and emotions – the Who I am circle below. Improving your self-awareness allows you to better understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your own perceptions of them.

Self awareness diagram

Exploring self-awareness might include working through your own coaching philosophy … why you coach, what coaching values you believe in, how you want to be seen as a coach.  Effective reflection (see below) will help … what are your strengths and areas for development?  Ask others for feedback … be open to hearing what others think of you.

Self-awareness is one of the four areas that together combine to create the concept of Emotional Intelligence:

Consider the checklist below to improve your own understanding of each of the four areas:

Self awareness

  • Self confidence
  • Awareness of your emotional state
  • Recognising how your behaviour impacts on others
  • Paying attention to how others influence your emotional state

Self management

  • Getting along well with others
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional self-control
  • Handling conflict effectively
  • Intuition
  • Clearly expressing ideas and information
  • Being sensitive to another person’s feelings

Social awareness

  • Reading a group’s emotions, moods and relationships
  • Meeting others’ needs and caring about what they are going through
  • Seeking to understand before being understood
  • Hearing what the other person is ‘really’ saying

Relationship management

  • Getting along well with others
  • Establishing peak rapport
  • Developing others
  • Inspirational leadership
  • Catalyst for change
  • Conflict management
  • Being sensitive to another person’s feelings to manage interactions successfully


Talent In Five: The Coach-Athlete Relationship

The importance of a coach-athlete relationship can be underestimated. This Talent In Five animation explores the key ingredients of a successful one.


Further reading


Emotional intelligence

Empathy: 2. A useful muscle

Research summaries

#7 – Emotional coaching

#14 – Communication preferences and styles of coaches

#25 – Intervention tone & coach/athlete relations

Other research

Privilege and Unconscious bias


Reflective practice

Careful reflection on ones practice is critical to becoming an effective coach - Cote & Gilbert 2009

Reflective practice is a coaching habit, the best coaches consistently do this.  The good news it is like flossing your teeth, the first time you try it feels awkward but you soon get the hang of it!

Reflective practice in its most basic form is thinking about, or reflecting on what you do.  We all think about our actions, its human nature and is linked to the experiential and learning cycle.  However there is a real difference between casual thinking and purposeful thinking; making a conscious and cognitive effort to consider and recall what happened, the part you played within it as a coach and your view of this against your expected outcome, expertise/knowledge base or beliefs.

Reflective practices are a conduit for experiential learning and as such are imperative for sports coaches due to the responsibility that we have to critically examine and question our practice and the context of our work in a way that improves our coaching.

Defined as a purposeful and complex process that facilitates the examination of experience by questioning the whole self within the context of practice; reflective practice is thought to transform experience into learning, which helps coaches to access, make sense of and develop their knowledge-in-action.

As a result, it is more likely that you are able to manage a more positive experience of sport for you, your athletes, and those with whom you work. You have to be aware, however, that the benefits of reflective practice are not a consequence of mere engagement with the process. Instead, you have to develop the skills (e.g., critical thinking) and attitudes (e.g., open-mindedness) required for effective reflective practice and integrate it as a fundamental part of what you do, rather than as an add-on to what you do.  Try the reflective tools we have included to help you get started.


Situating Reflective Practice


In this video Dr Brendan Copley, Principal lecturer in Sports Coaching and Sport Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University looks at situating reflective practice and the action research cycle.


Useful Resources

Please click on the images below:

Strengths Based Reflective Practice Table






Driscoll (1994) Model of Reflection


Talking Talent: Paul Shaw

In this latest Sports Coach UK video, Paul Shaw, Insider Leadership shares his thoughts and experiences of leading within a performance environment.

Paul recounts his development and the experiences that have shaped his leadership approaches as well as explaining key concepts to consider as a coach when leading people and teams.


Analysis & Feedback

How much can you remember about your last game or training session?  Research around observational recall suggests it’s likely to be between a third and a half, but this recall is likely to be focussed on the really memorable features – what went very well, or very badly, goals, mistakes!

The intended goal of observation, analysis and ultimately feedback to the performer is likely to be improved learning and/or performance but often we can fall into the trap of providing huge amounts of feedback because we can, or we feel we should (or we just have a new app!)  The question watchwords of feedback should be:

  • When; the timing of when we give feedback (or do not give it!)
  • What; how much feedback we choose to give and in what format
  • How; the style or method we decide is best suited



The other important factor to consider is who is generating or providing the feedback – the coach or the performer.  Often coaches can focus too much on it always being them that is the source of information, forgetting that the performers own internal role in analysis and feedback is vital for their ongoing development.

Let’s look at a couple of possible examples:

1. The performer is in competition and has completed one attempt (not too successfully) but has a second go coming up.  Their confidence has been knocked a little and they come for a discussion with their coach.

Knowing when, what and how the performer wants feedback at this point is crucial.  Show them a slow motion video of what went wrong, compared with the event leader and you will probably knock their confidence even more (or this may be exactly what they need!).  Too much information may confuse the performer and not have the desired effect. Asking them how it ‘felt’ may uncover some key areas to focus on to which the coach can add.

2. The performer is in training and learning a new technique

Without the pressure of competition the range of options to help skill acquisition and learning will undoubtedly change the style of analysis and feedback.  Helping the performer internally generate feedback by focussing their attention on certain aspects (foot position, rhythm, hip turn etc) will build their ability to self-correct.  This process may not be as quick in terms of changing a short term outcome but it will engage the performer in the process and help make them more autonomous.

The context, the performer or team and the environment will always shape how we decide to analyse and feedback as coaches.

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Relative Age Effects Implications for Performer Participation and Development

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