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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Cook

Adopting an Athlete Centered Approach to Coaching

football coach helping football player with technique and skill development

In recent years, we have seen a shift (for the better) in how coaches are approaching their work with athletes and teams. Moving away from the command and control leadership towards a progressive, athlete centered approach.


As a coach, your primary objective is to help your athletes achieve their best performance. However, have you ever considered whether your coaching approach is truly athlete-centered? 


Adopting an athlete-centered approach means putting your athletes at the heart of everything you do, and tailoring your coaching style to meet their unique needs and goals. By focusing on individualized skill development, personalized feedback, and creating a supportive team culture, you can help your athletes reach their full potential both on and off the ice.


Whether you're a seasoned coach or just starting out, adopting an athlete-centered approach can help you build stronger relationships with your athletes and achieve greater success as a team.


Understanding Athlete-Centered Coaching

Athlete-centered coaching is a coaching philosophy that prioritizes the athlete as an individual. It is a collaborative approach that involves coaches and athletes working together to create development plans that are tailored to each athlete's strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Coaches take on the role of facilitators, guiding athletes through the process of skill development and providing personalized feedback that helps athletes improve their performance.


This approach places a strong emphasis on creating a supportive team culture. Coaches who adopt this philosophy strive to build a sense of community and trust within their team, which can help athletes feel more motivated and engaged in their training. By prioritizing the needs and goals of individual athletes, coaches can create a more inclusive and supportive team environment that values each athlete's unique contributions.


Why Athlete-Centered Coaching is Important


Help athletes achieve their full potential

By providing them with personalized development plans that are tailored to their unique, individual needs and focusing on the specific areas where each athlete needs to improve, coaches can help their athletes make progress more quickly, which can lead to better performance on the field.


Builds a stronger relationship with the athlete

When coaches take the time to get to know their athletes and understand them as people first, athletes are more likely to trust and respect their coach. This can help create a more positive team culture and improve communication between coaches and athletes.


Creating a more inclusive team environment

By valuing each athlete's unique contributions, coaches can create a team culture that is more accepting and supportive of diversity, which will lead to greater team cohesion and improved performance.


Implementing Athlete-Centered Coaching in Your Team

Implementing an athlete-centered coaching approach in your team requires a commitment to prioritizing the needs of your individual athletes. Here are some practical tips for incorporating this philosophy into your coaching style:


  • Get to know your athletes: Take the time to get to know each athlete on your team and understand their unique needs and goals.

  • Develop personalized plans: Use the information you gather about each athlete to create development plans tailored to their individual needs.

  • Provide constructive feedback: Provide feedback that helps athletes identify areas where they need to improve, while also providing support and encouragement to help athletes stay motivated and engaged in their training.

  • Foster a supportive team culture: Create a team culture that values each athlete's unique contributions. Make all athletes feel included and welcomed.


Ultimately, adopting an athlete-centered coaching approach can help coaches build stronger relationships with their athletes and achieve greater success - not only for themselves but for their athletes and their team. Coaches can help their athletes achieve their full potential both on and off the ice through effective communication, personalized development plans, and a supportive team culture. While this approach does demand more from you as a coach, those who choose to invest the time and effort required to implement this philosophy can help their athletes reach new heights of success.


This newsletter is in association with The Athletic Mind podcast. Listen to the full episode here.


If you want to help your athletes take their performance into their own hands, book a complimentary call.

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