Posted in Branding, Leadership, Sport

Coaching Individuals versus Coaching Teams

Jamaica needs to prepare persons to coach teams

April 26 The considerable and world impacting success in sport for Jamaica since 1948 can be attributed largely to super performances by individual athletes and less by teams. The results are there for all to see and we can check for verification.

There has been a few teams that have done well during those years e.g. the football (soccer) team’s journey to the World Cup in 1998, the odd times the basketball team makes a mark and of course the consistent performance of the women’s netball team since 1963. Some other teams will be mentioned later, but you get my gist.

I am here to suggest that maybe our physical education and sport curriculum should focus more on how Jamaica prepares teams as in the worldwide sport industry; it is top performing teams that are bringing the best return on investment.

The origin of the word coach has come from that of a carriage deriving from the Hungarian city of Kocs where vehicles were first made. However students at the University of Oxford referred to a “coach” as someone who would carry a less able student through to exams. (Wikipedia) Sport changed that and in 2014, we see that coaching has become more of a strategy and mental showdown, identifying who has the “edge”.

Early days

A coach in primary and high school for example is to facilitate his/her athletes to hone in on their skills while enjoying playing fair and competing. As that athlete moves closer to professional focus, the role of both athlete and coach changes. It is important to note in the ‘early days’ though that while the person may be called a coach; his/her role is primary to teach skill development.

Most youngsters are not able to determine what roles they want to play in a team and in the case of football (soccer) one has so many choices – striker, defender, goal keeper to name a few. In a team set up those things can change from game to game and the coach is this instance has to make the determination where to place the athlete to get the best performance out of the team.


In the Jamaican context club sporting competitions are a little more popular than collegiate, certainly over the last 10 years, but in the last five, that is changing a bit. A change which is worthy of note, as I am suggesting that a collegiate athlete with the support of a valuable academic background with reputable coaching and access to good and consistent competition is better prepared for a professional career.

The cultural shift in how we prepare athletes needs the adjustment if as a nation we want more success from our athletes in teams. From here this conversation will draw the ire of a lot of folks with how I am suggesting that most of our coaches in Jamaica are not built to handle teams to maximise the team’s success in a way that would have a really successful set of teams that the sporting industry in Jamaica can benefit from.

I am currently reading, Players First, Coaching from the Inside Out by John Calipari (Michael Sokolove) and in identifying the philosophy established by the writers I want to use this as the basis of my argument.


  1. Our coaches need to care about our athletes
  2. Our coaches need to treat athletes the way we would want to be treated or even how we would want people to treat our own children
  3. Our coaches need to see themselves as playing a key role in servant leadership
  4. Our coaches need to develop a philosophy which can be aligned with “Winning has nothing to do with the score; it has to do with people.”

The successful team coaches have some kind of philosophy which focuses on the players are the centrepiece of their task. What has to happen as the coaches transition from school—club/college—pro is to learn that the approaches have to change too and it is over that time that the philosophy should be developed.


Over the next five to ten years Jamaica’s sporting industry can grow leaps and bounds if we prepare better teams in sport like football and basketball (in both genders); for the individual sports we need to work on – golf and tennis. These sports are areas Jamaicans have shown great potential, but the television viewership and the money they can generate are endless.

I left out cricket as it is a separate subject in my estimation and has to be dealt with all by itself. The institutions should develop a three module course of 45 hours each to focus primarily on team coaching simultaneously; while the PE teachers must be put back to work in all schools to have contact with children from ages 5 to 14 and teach them skills. All these children must have access to 140 minutes of PE each week.

What will happen thereafter is a large pool of athletes will be available and the team coaches will have to figure out a way to get them to perform at their best in a team. This of course will require investment of resources to include

  • Human
  • Financial
  • Physical – we need access to proper surfaces in keeping with international standards – maybe I am also making the case for a sport academy

This primarily is a business proposition as I still think the sporting industry in Jamaica will be one of the industries that can earn significant sums of money. I want a Sport Czar to champion this cause and have a team to monitor and track this development in three…five…seven and ten years gap to see the evidence of the success I know it can achieve.

The template too is for franchises to grow as they help in employment and there is accompanying talent and professional skill to support the growth to be anticipated from this.

Get in the Game!



A sport aficionado who writes, researches and presents on everything sport. A second book is out to prove her work's reach. She reads in her spare time.

4 thoughts on “Coaching Individuals versus Coaching Teams

  1. Carole Beckford you are making a very poignant statemnet that warrants detailed focus and analysis and with which I most certainly concur. You know that we stand on the same side of the fence in so far as the development of sports in general and as an economic sector is concerned. I already have two pieces written based on prior views and reinforced by my experiences here in Germany thus far. You can check my blog to see them. Thanks also for the insights which I will without doubt pursue further re team coaching. If you have a link please share

  2. Jamaica has very good coaches, primarily in the athletics field, the results of their athletes provide sufficient evidence. But from the context of a team perspective, as outlined in the blog, except for netball we have struggled. The jamaica senior cricket team did exceptionally well for 5 seasons and continues to perform creditably. Perhaps we could draw on the expertise of past and current coaches for the aforementioned sports disciplines to garner some idea of what made them successful. As an athlete you never stop learning, is it the same for some coaches?

  3. Hey sis l agree absolutely with your comments. The culture needs to be changed in order to accommodate such thinking and acceptance. I can recall vividly a few years ago I took on the role of Technical Director/Coach for one of our top Premiere League teams in Jamaica and was so taken aback by the lack of understanding and acceptance of developing a team rather than individual players. They were of the opinion that individuals make teams and as long as they are good, motivated and be able to contribute to the team, then nothing else is needed. They just could not buy into the culture of developing the team by coaching the players to think as a unit and not as individuals. Thinking as individuals brought on the selfish characteristics that most likely breaks a team than strengthens it. We see the same thing happen by way of our management of the football federation where there apparently exist no culture of teamwork and as such are failing to come up with tangible structures to build our sport.

    It is my wish that this culture will somehow evolve into one of care and support of the team of individuals who make up the team; and not only the individual’s abilities in the team.
    So long my sister. One love.

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