Call yourself a coach? – take our quiz to find out.


Somewhere along the line the word coach has been devalued. Give someone a track suit, clip board and a whistle and they are now a ‘coach’.
Give anyone 20 kids with 20 footballs for one hour a week and I guarantee the kids will improve. This however is not being a coach.
This is simply organic improvement bought about by touching a ball so often. It’s more like baby-sitting than coaching.

A COACH will drive improvement way beyond the levels attained just by using the balls for an hour a week.

To be a ‘coach’ you should answer YES to the following questions.

  1. Do you treat every player as an individual? This includes having an improvement plan for every player. It’s doesn’t mean asking the kid what they want to improve on – they will tell you the obvious… you’re the coach,  you tell them what they need to work on and importantly how you are going to help. Do you make every child feel appreciated…if you do they will give their all for you.
  2. Do you tell the parents what impact you are going to have? At the start of every season, and at regular intervals throughout, update parents and kids on what impact you will have on the team. Can you articulate how are you going to make this team and each individual better?
  3. Do you plan training sessions? Just turning up and moving cones is not coaching. Every session and drill must have a purpose.
  4. Do you ensure your kids loving playing? Put your hand on heart.  DO ALL YOUR KIDS LOVE PLAYING? Are they genuinely having fun?  Do they ‘want’ to come to training every night?
  5. Do you insist on fairness? Good coaches don’t have obvious favorites or openly promote some kids over others. This includes how much time you spend with each kid and the expectations you place on them. Are some kids there to make up the numbers so the stars get to shine? Do you use your ethics and values to help make difficult decisions?
  6. Do you have emotional intelligence? Do you know when a player has lost confidence, is a bit stressed or anxious? Do you instantly recognize the signs when  players are not enjoying themselves? Do you let inappropriate bullying or passive aggressiveness go on in your team? Do you act on this or hope it will just go away? Also do you know how your body language affects the kids? How do they react when you get grumpy?
  7. Do you tell the whole story? Do you tell the kids why you are doing things like changing their position, putting them on bench…or do you let them guess your motives? Coaches don’t let players guess, they tell the whole story understanding kids don’t have the wisdom to guess your motives. Especially girls.  Coaches don’t play mind games with kids.  YOU CANNOT COMMUNICATE TOO MUCH.
  8. Do you allow mistakes? Do you allow kids freedom to make mistakes? The pros make hundreds of mistakes every game – surely your under 13s can too.
  9. Do you coach life lessons? Do you insist on sportsmanship, develop leadership skills and life skills like resilience? This is far more lasting and important than win/loss ratios.
  10. Are you approachable? Do all the kids feel comfortable in coming to you with questions? Do they feel like you respect them as individuals? Do you consider parents to be a hindrance? Teachers will tell you that kids achieve more when parents and teachers work together.  The same applies to sports. Shutting parents out only causes conjecture and perpetuates issues BEHIND THE SCENES. You have to have an avenue and relationship where they can ask questions.
  11. Do you coach to the gender of your team? Do you understand the difference between coaching boys and girls? If you treat girls like boys you will fail…you will fail.

Recently I was mentoring a champion dance team and a coach made an interesting point – ‘every kid has a talent box; some open them early on, whilst others take a while to find the key. Your job is to make sure every kid eventually finds the key’.

I bet she scores highly on the quiz above…do you?


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About the Author: Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance Training and Coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.