We use cookies to give you the best experience and to help improve our website. By using our website you are accepting our cookies.  Learn More

Understanding the Individual

Understand your participant's motivations, character and personality

In this theme of the Coach Learning Framework, you will find resources on:

  • Getting to know who you coach as people and as participants. Learn to see the whole person and meet their specific needs.
  • Building your awareness of individual stages of development. Understand that a person's stage of development includes their experience and knowledge of the sport and physical activity.
  • Coaching the person in front of you. Create a connection with the people you coach to ensure that they feel valued, wanted and more than a 'number.'
  • Environment. Explore how to create a supportive and appropriately challenging environment for your participants.
  • Motivation. Understand what drives your participants and how you can use that knowledge to enhance your sessions and coaching practice.

Why is Understanding the Individual Important in Coaching?

Coaching is a people business, and Great Coaching involves placing the individual at the centre of your coaching. Understanding who you coach as a person, participant and performer ensures that you can also learn what drives and motivates them.  

Taking the time to get to know the person that you are coaching will enhance your relationship and help you to meet their needs. Participants take part in sport and physical activity for a wide variety of reasons and each person’s journey to arriving at your sessions will be unique to them and their experiences.  

Creating time to recognise their preferences, personal wants and needs will enable you to develop an environment that boosts motivation and meets their long-term goals.

Simply put, if the people you coach know that they are listened to, valued and cared for they will have a much greater connection with you and the activity. You can then help them in turn to build a better awareness of themselves, their motivations and desires.  

Developing the whole person in a holistic way helps with ‘stickability’, commitment and creating an environment that is engaging for them.

Through the pillars below, find resources to help you on your journey to understanding the individual.

Know Who They Are

Knowing who they are as a person, participant and performer enables you as their coach to see the whole person and meet their personal needs.  

When we understand the person and not the ‘persona’ presented, we are able to fully meet their needs and provide meaningful support and challenge. An individual’s experiences, journey and unique milestone events all help to shape how they see and interact with the world.

When we listen, notice and respond appropriately we can support and empower the individual to become the best version of themselves.

As a person we are effectively comprised of three key components, which are always connected and together encompass the important areas of our being. Termed Bio-Psycho-Social, this model of the individual demonstrates that for a person to thrive, their needs in all three areas must be met. 

Prioritise holistic development and support to improve personal, emotional, well-being and social skills, as well as physical capacity and competence.

This can be summarised as: Ask, Listen and Support!

Understand Stages of Development

Often thought of as a priority for children and young people as they progress through maturation into adulthood, in a much wider sense, someone’s stage of development includes their experience and knowledge of the sport and physical activity. 

Explore and understand how growth and maturation impacts on the development of an individual. Build an awareness of the social, emotional, cognitive as well as the physical dimensions to development to help the participant and their family navigate the journey.  

As the body changes and adapts over time, so does the individual’s developmental needs.

Whilst everyone goes through the same stages of maturation, when, how long for and the rate of development vary greatly.

Coaching the Person

Creating a connection with your participants helps them to feel valued, wanted and more than a ‘number’. It also creates an opportunity for connection and conversation as you seek to understand:

  • their reasons for attending your sessions
  • their individual journey
  • their goals.

You can then support them to achieve this through your coaching practice, coaching approach and the environment you create. When these are all ‘in play’ together, you create an opportunity for the person to thrive.

Coaching the whole person requires an investment in the person, participant and performer to meet their emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, skill development and performance needs and to maximise their experiences.

    • Introducing an Effective Approach to Goal Setting

    • Establishing Trust in Your Coaching Environment

    • The Importance of Trust Within Your Coaching Relationships and Environment

    • Coaching Behaviours

    • Understanding the Pyramid Model

    • Top 10 Qualities You Need to be a Coach

    • Coaching Behaviours

    • Understanding the Pyramid Model

    • Understanding Unconscious Bias


Free Resource Picks




Coaching Behaviours

A detailed look at what great coaching looks like through the eyes of the participant




Understanding the BioPsychoSocial Model

Throughout the ‘pathway to excellence’ every participant will experience peaks and troughs in their progress and this model has become a popular way of characterising human development


Expert Opinion 


So What is Developmentally Appropriate Sport?

A review of the research around developmentally appropriate sport, offering some insight into how coaches can, and should, be more aware of human development when they are coaching

Included with Subscription


Expert Opinion 


Coaching the Person in Front of You

This evolving concept in our sector – one based around the simple human principles of compassion and empathy – is the basis for a new workshop

Coach Learning Framework

The Coach Learning Framework has been created to help you design memorable and engaging great coaching experiences that meet the needs of all your participants, regardless of your sport or physical activity.

Understanding the Individual is one of nine themes that comprise this insight-based framework.

Continue your journey through the framework to learn more about the other eight themes and the key attributes of high-quality coaching environments, and how you can demonstrate the skills, qualities and behaviours that will empower the people you coach to achieve their personal goals.