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UK Coaching Team
Self-care and development

Guide to Understanding Your Coaching Practice

With this comprehensive guide on the Coach Learning Framework's ‘Understanding Your Coaching Practice’ theme – jam-packed with practical tips, ideas, and the key points you'll need to start putting what you learn into practice – you'll discover the key pillars that comprise this theme and how they can help improve your coaching

In coaching, there are only two things fully within a coach’s control: the programmes, sessions or practices planned, and the behaviours that the coach chooses to present to the participant(s). These combine to make up your coaching practice, and so it makes logical sense to focus on these to ‘control the controllables’.

Whether you’re at the beginning of your coaching career, or an experienced coach, it’s vital that you constantly refine and develop your practice. This is what separates the great from the good.

You can read a lot of articles about coaching practice and development, but sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming.

The case studies in this guide – exclusive for UK Coaching Club Subscribers  – will make it easy for you to understand and will serve as a focus point for you to deepen your knowledge of each pillar within the theme and how to apply it to your coaching. This will help you to create high quality holistic learning opportunities that maximise the experience for all.

  • Pedagogy: explore how you can encourage participants to engage and support their development during your sessions.
  • How learning happens: learn how to provide opportunities for participants to make decisions and develop self-awareness.
  • Creating a climate for learning: consider how to create an environment in which participants feel safe and secure and can be themselves.


  • Developing independent learners: support participants to take responsibility for their own development.
  • Values and cultural expectations: understand the importance of creating an appropriate and supportive culture.
  • Effective communication: consider how you can communicate more effectively during sessions.


In coaching, there are only two things fully within a coach’s control: the programmes, sessions or practices planned, and the behaviours that the coach chooses to present to the participant(s). These combine to make up your coaching practice and so it makes logical sense to focus on these to ‘control the controllables’.

This guide will introduce you further to the key components that sit within coaching practice and link you to further learning to enhance your coaching.

As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. Those who grasp principles can successfully select their own methods. But those who try methods, ignoring principles, are sure to have trouble.”

Harrington Emerson, 1911

Understanding Pedagogy

Originating from the ancient Greek meaning for ‘leader of children’, pedagogy is the theory, method, and philosophy of teaching (or coaching). It is where knowledge of the sport in context (what), participants (who) and coaching (how) interact.

Essentially pedagogy is about learning, and it exists to compare and evaluate our coaching practice, how we can coach differently, and as such how we can enhance learning.

There are many questions at the core to understanding pedagogy. For example:

  • What am I coaching?
  • How am I coaching?
    Why do I coach this way?
  • What is the best method of coaching for this individual at this time and why?
  • What beliefs am I basing my coaching on and have I examined those beliefs?
  • Is my knowledge about participants, learning, coaching and my sport up to date?
  • What influences my coaching?

Case study

Mo is a father and is a new coach of his son’s U8 football team. A keen fan and watcher of Monday Night Football, along with many of the other parents, Mo feels he has a good idea of how the game should be played and tries to impart his knowledge on to the children. He has been trying to coach the team the sort of tactical detail he watches on TV but has found that the boys don’t seem to know what they are doing. Especially during matches.

This has led to some frustrations and losses, despite Mo’s best efforts at shouting to tell the boys where they should be during the game. After some time and careful consideration, he realises that perhaps his view of football as an adult is somewhat different to what the children understand it to be. It’s been so long since Mo was that age, it’s difficult to remember what the game was like then for him. There’s less players on the pitch nowadays!

This leads him to reconsider what he is coaching. Is it perhaps too complicated? Is it what the children want to do? They seem to enjoy doing their own thing with the ball a lot of the time. Mo notices that there are different responses to the way that he behaves during training and games from the team and individuals. He starts to wonder what impact his own behaviours have and if there might be a better way to coach his participants.

Mo also thinks that maybe he has felt some pressure from the other parents and other teams to win matches. After all, there’s quite a big crowd at the games with all the parents, grandparents, aunties, and uncles from both teams who can make quite a noise. The first questions that his friends and work colleagues tend to ask after the weekend is, ‘Did the boys win? What was the score?’.

He also doesn’t sleep well the night before a game anyway and a heavy loss takes until Monday or Tuesday to be forgotten about whilst the kids seem back to their lively selves by the same afternoon. He starts to question why he feels like this and wonders whether he is being subtly influenced without realising. The starting line-up, minutes on the pitch and substitutions are all things that have caused Mo concerns and occupied his thoughts both before and during the match. He starts to examine why this is and consider what he can do about it.

Although fictional, Mo’s story is not uncommon to the many thousands of coaches across all different sports in the UK. By regularly engaging with such guiding questions, coaches can more successfully select their methods and approaches to coaching and start to better understand their pedagogy.

Become part of the exclusive UK Coaching Club to unlock this guide and you'll also gain access to 52 templates, podcasts, tips, videos, webinars, infographics, and expert opinions on the ‘Understanding Your Coaching Practice’ theme of the Coach Learning Framework, including:

When you have increased your knowledge and understanding of coaching practice with this guide and the accompanying resources you'll unlock by becoming a UK Coaching Club Subscriber, you’ll be able to improve your coaching impact by creating high quality learning opportunities that are memorable for everyone who attends, get better results and derive greater enjoyment from your coaching.

To unlock this full resource, you need to become a UK Coaching Club Premium Member.

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