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23 Sep 2019 332
Organising and Planning

Principles of Great Coaching: Learning

In a positive learning environment, people are confident about learning new skills and have the tools they need to progress. Create a positive learning environment by giving feedback and adapting your approach to meet individual needs

Learning a new skill or developing a new understanding of something is a great experience. The feeling of growth, the sense of autonomy, the freedom it can bring. But learning isn’t always easy, nor is it always possible every time. Or at least that’s what we think!

In Principles of Great Coaching: Learning, the fifth episode in the Great Coaching podcast series, Modern Learning Development Lead Mark Scott explores the concept of learning from the perspective of the coach. The key points he considers give a real appreciation that learning isn’t always easy, and in fact can be a messy business. 

However, when we get learning right for our participants, it can have a significant impact.  

You know your session has been a great learning experience when you get feedback along the lines of: 

  • "My coach understands me and wants to help me get better”  
  • “I feel confident that I am progressing and achieving my goals”  
  • “I learn something new every time."

Using coaching behaviours to support learning

Coaches are uniquely placed to drive and improve the learning experience. This can be achieved simply by how you act and behave: coaching behaviours can support and enhance learning. 

You could achieve this by managing people's expectations and highlighting progress.

Strategies include:

  • designing sessions with a learning outcome in mind
  • stating clearly the aims at the start of each activity
  • keeping things simple and asking questions to challenge people to reflect throughout
  • summarising things at the end too to show how things link up
  • keeping your own notes and revisiting them regularly (think: Facebook memories).

An important aspect of this is continually developing your approach and sessions to suit people's changing needs. 

Achieve this by:

  • reflecting regularly on session design and your approach
  • keeping the feedback conversation on a constant loop
  • recognising people’s contributions and telling them how you could use it
  • changing one thing at a time
  • keeping your own notes.

Finally, it's also important to strive to develop yourself and maintain high standards including Duty of Care.

Prioritise this by:

  • revisiting the learning you have completed on a regular basis
  • speaking to others inside and outside of your direct sport or activity
  • reading up on topic areas from reputable sources
  • trying, testing and playing with new ideas
  • engaging your group in the process to get feedback on what works.


In this video on creating a constructive learning environment, UK Coaching Physical Activity Development Lead Craig Blain discusses the importance of reflection, which is key to progression

Watch for more


Have a read of Understanding How Reflection Can Help You for evidence-based insight into the role of reflection and how it can support you to take the next step on your coaching journey

Get the guide

Podcast series

Listen to the Principles of Great Coaching podcast series to hear coaches and subject matter experts bring the Great Coaching Principles to life and offer practical strategies to aid your coaching practice

More on #GreatCoaching

Related Resources

  • Using Dual Coding to Process Information and Learn Effectively

  • What is Great Coaching?

  • Coaching Behaviours


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