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8 Signs You Were Born to Be a Coach

We hope the advice contained in our essential, but by no means exhaustive, list will motivate more people to enter the coaching family, and serve as a reminder to those who already coach of the compelling reasons why you first decided to become a coach

There is a coach inside everyone, just waiting to emerge.

Unfortunately, all too often our natural talents remain untapped or undiscovered.

This article aims to trigger an awakening of new possibilities.

If you recognise yourself in the list below, you really should consider becoming a coach.

Why? Because it isn’t just your participants who will gain from the coaching experience; you too will derive a wonderful sense of achievement and personal satisfaction from coaching.

Below are some central characteristics of great coaching; some key credentials that are intrinsic to helping people be the best they can be.

Of course, people possess these personal traits and personal drivers in different measures. Some may be more genetically hardwired than others, but the good news is that they can be cultivated through hard work, training, and focused support.

The potential to learn, improve and excel lives in all of us.

So just as EVERYONE should have access to great coaching, so EVERYONE can be a great coach.

Our advice will help you play to your character strengths and provide you with tips for how to develop and improve in other areas to build a toolkit of essential skills and behaviours conducive to helping people become better versions of themselves.

So, get ready to be inspired to take that leap into action by perusing what we hope will be eight ‘principles of persuasion’.

For the converted, rediscover the exhilaration and rewards that being a coach brings and refresh your learning around some key themes and values.

We know that great coaching is life-enhancing and develops qualities for life by providing a person-centred experience that is positive, motivational, caring and rewarding.

People skills are as important than technical skills when engaging people in sport and physical activity because, for people to learn best, they must first and foremost be comfortable and feel safe in their environment.

It is these so-called soft skills that keep people coming back week after week, so that they repeatedly benefit from the rewards that sport, movement, and social connection bring.

If you have a genuine desire to help people, then you will be interested in knowing the benefits of being coached...

You will be helping to instil confidence, build resilience, adaptability, leadership skills and a sense of self-worth – qualities that are transferable to everyday life, and that have a positive knock-on effect on people’s mental health and well-being.

You will also be helping to break down social differences by facilitating the formation of friendships, which in turn helps to foster a sense of community belonging and social cohesion.

Coaches are conduits in supporting our communities to adopt healthier lifestyles and have an integral role to play in solving modern-day societal issues such as social isolation and loneliness; anti-social behaviour and crime; anxiety and depression.

If you want to help people, then coaching needs YOU to keep this virtuous circle in motion.

Workshop

UK Coaching's 'Coaching the Person in Front of You' workshop will give you a deeper awareness of why great people skills are an intrinsic part of being an effective coach.

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Podcast

Listen to coaches and subject matter experts as they provide insight into person-centred coaching and offer practical strategies.

This Way

Guide

Our Coaching the Person in Front of You guide examines the importance of understanding and connecting with your participants to help them thrive.

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Next Steps

Understand your participant's motivations, character and personality in our comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Individual.

Dive In

The close cousin to ‘wanting to help people’, the wish to ‘give something back’ is known as philanthropy.

According to Sport England’s Volunteering In An Active Nation Strategy 2017-21, 5.6 million people volunteer every month in sport and physical activity in England. These coaches are the lifeblood of our communities, demonstrating generosity and positivity, and a desire to give, transmit, and inspire others to achieve.

The infectious passion you transmit will have a tremendous impact on people’s physical, social, emotional, and psychological well-being.

The knowledge that you are contributing positively and unselfishly to lives and communities will also make you feel good about yourself. Your unselfish behaviour is food for the soul and will give your own personal well-being a boost.

As well as the glowing feeling of fulfilment, the knowledge that, by providing people with a feeling of value and self-worth you are making a difference and returning something to society, will give you a sense of purpose and significance.

When coaches love what they do, the likelihood is people will love what they do for them – creating a ripple effect that impacts on the health and well-being of all our communities.

Those who possess an altruistic drive and selfless desire to want to help others do better will quickly feel at home when coaching, because the holistic development of players as people as well as performers is the underpinning principle of great coaching.

You will learn how to build positive relationships by using your soft skills to get to know people on a deep level and form connections with them. This is integral to helping people thrive, as only through understanding and connecting with people can you begin to earn their trust and build a genuine rapport – prerequisites to helping people fulfil their goals and deal with the individual challenges they are experiencing.

According to humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model, self-actualisation is the desire in human nature to fulfil our potential. Coaching satisfies this basic psychological human need for personal growth. By ‘giving something back’, you will learn more about yourself and fulfil your personal potential whilst you support others to do the same.

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Power up your 'giving' quota

Read our guide, exclusive to UK Coaching Club Subscribers, 'How to Improve Coach Well-being: Give Back'

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You are in the right place if you have a passion for learning and a curious mind! UK Coaching prides itself on being the leading destination for coaches to access learning and development resources, tools, and training.

Our innovative digital coach learning platform will allow you to create a personalised journey to improve your coaching confidence and competence, with the guarantee of fresh, relevant, and inspiring learning content.

We don’t want to bore you with marketing patter, but we do want to give a quick shout-out to our Coach Learning Framework, which has been designed to help coaches at every level – complete newbie to seasoned elite – learn how to deliver great coaching experiences for all.

It will help you grow your coaching knowledge to deliver unmissable sessions by equipping you with a toolkit of essential skills to enable you to support participants to become better people as well as better performers.

Learning never stops and our advice is to approach it like an all you can eat buffet. Browse the complete menu and sample as many learning opportunities as you can. That includes:

  • On-demand, 24-hour, at your fingertips learning – desk-based, self-directed reading, like news, features, blogs or guides, listening to podcasts or watching webinars, or connecting and learning through using social media channels.
  • Social or co-collaborative learning – mentoring, communities of practice that encourage sharing ideas with other learners, seminars or team building days.
  • Formal learning – workshops, conferences, NGB or CPD courses.

You should be in control of your learning journey, as you will be more engaged with the content, and taking a pick and mix approach to learning is a real recipe for success.

You can dip in at a pace that matches your hunger to learn and vary your diet of learning as your appetite changes – depending on which stage of your coaching journey you are on. There should be a fluid movement between all three categories.

Just as food and drink fuels the body, learning fuels the mind. It will benefit you in everyday life by helping to boost your creativity, problem-solving skills, and self-confidence, as well as helping to convey a sense of accomplishment, which all combined leads to improved mental health and well-being by enabling you to maximise your full potential.

… and want to share your passion with other people.

We need more coaches to help fight the nation’s entrenched inactivity crisis. Inactivity is a root cause of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease – among other serious health conditions – and is costing the UK economy billions every year in health care costs.

Coaches have a crucial role to play in persuading people to move from an inactive to active lifestyle, thereby reducing the burden of disease on the nation. Which is why we need people with a passion for movement to be the catalysts for cultural behaviour change.

Modern life features an overabundance of choices and challenges. These many competing interests mean sport and physical activity can slip down the pecking order of priorities.

Young people today lead busier social lives – bars, shopping, cinema, eating out, gaming, romance and relationships. In addition, pressures on young people’s time through work, exam study and a growing dependence on social media has quickened our descent into a full-blown health crisis. So many bewitching interests; so little time for physical activity.

More coaches are needed to keep participants engaged and passionate about sport, so they make time for movement and keep coming back for more. People do what ‘moves’ them. We need you to become part of the movement that keeps the nation moving.

We have a vision… a nation where smiling children pack parks, pitches, and playgrounds, exercising their excitement and creative enthusiasm to develop essential cognitive, physical, social, and emotional skills.

We can picture a greater percentage of our youth getting active on courts, tracks and playing fields throughout the land, having rediscovered their love of physical activity and sport, and we can see adults running, lifting, dancing, in gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres and community halls – their hearts pumping and endorphins flowing.

This is what a happy, healthy, and active nation looks like, and Britain’s coaching workforce will have an instrumental role to play in shaping this brighter and better future for all, where every individual has an equal opportunity to participate in physical activity and sport and reap the extensive benefits this brings.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

Meet The Inspirational 'IronGran'

Edwina Brocklesby is coaching and coaxing older people to become healthier and happier by providing fitness, fun and friendship.

Be Inspired

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Short blog of how a sport lover with a background in athletics, hockey and netball transitioned into coaching, with tips on how to get into coaching.

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The rewards of injecting humour into your sessions to help create a fun and entertaining environment are significant. But knowing when to establish a playful mood and when to can the laughter is a constant balancing act, because what one person may find funny, another might find offensive. There is a fine line between humour being inclusive and divisive.

Following a few simple guidelines will ensure smiles don’t turn into scowls.

Just as athletes react to different motivations and interactions, so people respond and react to humour in different ways. To avoid an attempt at humour falling as flat as a punctured football, think it through. Remember that the secret of good comedy is… timing.

Playfulness is infectious and the more people feel relaxed in your presence, the quicker you can build trust and credibility, and the more they will be likely to listen to instruction. Well-timed interludes of comic relief therefore can take the edge off building tension and can break the monotony of a particularly technical session or repetitive sequence of activities. We all know how short children’s (and indeed adults’) attention spans can be, and an injection of humour can help to maintain their interest.

The art, as a coach, is to understand the subtleties of humour. When the joke is over, move on and refocus. Failure to do could see things quickly get out of hand as individuals struggle to contain their enthusiasm.

Equally, coaches are not drill sergeants and need to show their human side. Coaching sessions should, after all, be fun.

So, maintain your balance whilst walking that tightrope, making sure you are not perceived as a figure of fun but rather someone who likes to have fun; open to a spot of clowning around, but not a clown; witty, but never sarcastic.

If it’s not fun and games at training, perhaps you should consider planning humour into your sessions and see where the extra smiles take you.

If you are the innovative type and like to experiment, coaching will get your creative juices flowing.

Actively seeking to develop creativity in yourself and your participants through simple game-based activities is a sure-fire way to ramp up engagement levels. And an engaged audience is a malleable audience that is wired for learning.

Creativity trumps boring, spoon-fed repetition and routines and humdrum technical instruction every time, so don’t put a cork in the creativity bottle. If you coach children, put yourself in a child’s shoes when devising innovative new games. Ask yourself, ‘would you have found the exercise fun at their age?’

Look to provide sessions that are different and go off script and let the creative sparks fly. Don’t ask ‘do I make my participants work hard in my sessions?’; do ask, ‘do my sessions have the appeal to make my participants want to work harder?’

And don’t be put off if a creative idea falls flat. The whole process is trial and error. Invariably, there will be something there the coach can build on. As coach developer, coach educator and lecturer Richard Cheetham told us:

As with all the great films, there will be plenty of pieces left on the cutting room floor which didn’t quite work out as expected.”

The onus is not just on the coach to think up innovative techniques that help their participants, it is also about helping your participants explore their own creative potential. Creating a problem-solving environment where your participants take ownership of exercises and are encouraged to devise and adapt session plans and games allows them to use their own imagination and creative expression to generate tactical solutions.

The upshot is flexible and adaptable participants who relish risk-taking and problem-solving, and who will unfailingly develop into better decision-makers.

The 'C' System

In our Guide 'Let the Creative Sparks Fly' we explore the importance of creativity and curiosity, and allowing children freedom of expression.

Learn More

Creative Coaching

Creative coaches have good imaginations, original ideas and are inventive in their approach to finding solutions. Learn how to think creatively.

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Coaching is challenging, but for those who are committed and willing to dedicate their time, effort and energy, the rewards are worth the endeavour.

Intrinsic motivation is defined as doing an activity for its inherent satisfaction – the fun or the challenge – rather than for personal rewards. Coaches tend to be intrinsically motivated people who have their participants’ best interests at heart, and who are willing to go above and beyond to help them, purely for the satisfaction and pleasure it produces.

Thriving on challenge involves stepping out of your comfort zone. Coaches are well versed in encouraging their participants to enter the discomfort zone – where perspiration levels should match aspiration levels to achieve progress – and coaches need to follow this same principle in their practice, planning and preparation as their participants do in their physical practice and performance.

Challenging yourself outside your comfort zone involves learning to embrace new methods and experimenting with ideas, being innovative, curious, and adaptable, and developing a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset are excited by challenges, not alarmed by them; they enjoy the effort and are not put off by mistakes and feedback, as they regard taking risks as an opportunity to learn and develop their abilities. Is this you?

The Learning Zone

The best way to improve your learning, in any environment, is to move out of your comfort zone and be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

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Growth Mindset

Understand the difference between a growth and fixed mindset, how a growth mindset can be cultivated, and the impact it can have on athletes.

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In the immortal words of Gary Barlow, ‘have a little patience’; or, if you prefer, Axl Rose, who sang ‘all we need is just a little patience’. Whatever your musical persuasion, they were both right (forgive the attempt at humour, but if you remember point five, a timely injection of humour can help to maintain people’s interest, and we are approaching the end of the article!).

In the world of sport, results happen over time, not overnight. According to the doctrine of marginal gains, the cumulative effect of small changes leads to significant improvements over time.

In coaching, patience really is a virtue. It provides you with the time and space to step back, pause and gain perspective; to reflect and evaluate, test adaptions, and implement solutions that help you attain those incremental improvements.

Patience is also essential in the context of building strong coach-athlete relationships. These too are forged over time, not overnight. We talked in ‘wanting to give something back’ about the importance of making an effort to understand the people you interact with.

You cannot learn everything about a person in a few sessions – especially when you have a large group, who you may only interact with on a one-to-one basis for a few minutes each week. The variable nature of people’s characters and idiosyncrasies, and the diverse emotional, social, psychological, and physiological needs of individuals, demands a long-term approach. In sporting parlance, it is a marathon not a sprint.

Observing, noticing, listening, and communicating with your group of participants over a period of time will give you the deep understanding that is so critical in:

  • considering people’s motivations
  • knowing how to inspire them
  • spotting any safeguarding or emotional red flags by learning to trust your intuition
  • and generally helping them deal with the individual challenges that are part and parcel of every individual’s sporting journey.

Understanding Relationships

Develop and deepen your relationships to evolve your coaching.

Guide

The coach-athlete relationship

This article explores why the coach-athlete relationship is at the heart of coaching.

Expert Opinion

Related Resources

  • How to Get into Coaching

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  • Top 10 Qualities You Need to be a Coach

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  • 15 Things All Coaches Should Know

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UK Coaching Team