What makes a good coach a great coach?

TCM Live and TCM Certificate Lead Instructor Martin Hunter explains what makes a good coach into a great coach.

Sep 6th 2021

Written by The Coaching Manual

What separates a good coach from a 'great' coach?

We would all like to think we either are, or have the capability to be a good coach - we plan training sessions and seasons, we make sure the players are having fun while learning - but what do the great coaches do that sets them apart from the rest?

UEFA A License course contributor and 'the Godfather of TCM' Martin Hunter simply says that great coaches have "the ability to observe and then communicate with the players."

He continued: "Most coaches are good organisers, they understand about managing the session, but the real top coaches can see things and they can communicate. They've got so much enthusiasm and energy that it rebounds most of the time on their staff - and, above all - their players."

The solution sounds simple, but it takes a good deal of effort and dedication to truly master the skills of observation, communication, and - importantly - assessment of self, and assessment of your players.

Martin added: "What are the qualities of being an outstanding field coach? They're quite simple for me... you find more knowledge, put it into practice, you reflect and review. It's not a bad adage for life, by the way."

So how do you master these abilities? As well as self-assessment and evaluation, Martin stressed the importance of observing and practising.

Martin explained: "I like analogies. Here is the top surgeon in a hospital, and I'm a junior doctor. What he doesn't do is say 'go and watch Youtube, three operations, then take this guy's appendix out'. Not a chance. You've got to go out there and practise. And if you don't reflect on what you've done, whether it's a game or a session, you're not doing yourself justice, or the people around you."

The skill of observation, and understanding what you've observed, is not only something that should be applied to yourself, as important as self-reflection is. As coaches, we should always treat other coaches as a resource for improvement. We should watch and observe coaches - particularly those with vast and varied experiences - and understand why they chose to do the things they do. The best way to do this is to watch coachers deliver their sessions.

Martin added: "This is why The Coaching Manual is so important. It's not a sterile company that only shows you clips of people doing things well, because that's not the real game." Speaking to a room full of coaches looking to learn and develop, he added: "I've sat where you are, and I watched all sorts of different sessions, and I don't think you can beat [The Coaching Manual]".

Martin was presenting 'What makes a good coach a great coach?' at the inaugural TCM Live event earlier this year.

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