Posted in Athletes, Coaching, Sport, Uncategorized

Coaching in 2016 and beyond

May 29 – Elite athletes should have access to the best technical expertise available.  

“Coaching is the universal language of change and learning.”


One of the missions of any sporting organisation must be to prepare its coaches to be the best. And while it is doing that ensure that the sport also has access to its best athletes. That relationship, if well organised is the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship for the specific sport to maximise its economic activity.

The history of coaching does not meet the traditional skill set where the roles of purpose, knowledge base, organisation and ethics are clearly outlined; however, over the last two decades there has been an increase in who we classify as “elite coaches” – those who are considered as being the best; transforms the best and gets the best out of any category of athlete.

Sport more than ever now plays a significant role in income generation and a well-coached   fully focused winning team provide entertainment to spectators, communities, sponsors, athletes, coaches and administrators.

Coaching has therefore moved from the largely volunteer role it had been to the more sophisticated and competitive profession where institutions and organisations go after the “best” coaches for a multiplicity of reasons.


The National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL) and the English Premier League (EPL) are three organisations which move around coaches based on a projected number of wins within a season or a contract term. These organisations essentially work with the saying “you are as good as your last win.”

I reflect on the roles of Don Nelson and Phil Jackson two NBA coaches were both successful as players and coaches. Both have philosophies they have used to their advantage. Nelson masterminded the concept of a power forward, while Jackson perfected the triangle offense; but also his use of Zen techniques to assemble some of USA’s best basketballers while getting them to win. I look at football in the EPL and Alex Ferguson’s record speaks for itself.

Today, an elite coach is not who is simply technically strong, but instead one who designs and uses philosophies to achieve the ultimate gain of converting his/her team to win over a sustained period.

The training of coaches is available at several levels

  • Teacher-training institutions
  • Sport Colleges and Universities
  • Olympic Federations through the IOC’s programmes
    • Other sporting Federations have accredited levels of courses which are applicable for its different categories of athletes
  • Other supplementary short courses are available on several platforms

Standards have been and continue to be set and more and more sporting franchises and organisations go after the most qualified. The coaching situation has evolved.

The profession, coaching, has to first of all look at reinforcing education, deployment of those resources while regulating rules to engage the wide variety of skills on offer, but the ultimate is to get a winning formula of winning team and coach.

Coaching along age-group teams moves from getting players/athletes to enjoy their game (children) and to compete fiercely for titles and in recent years attract a substantial salary package. Sport also influences social and cultural boundaries and the value of those factors, while immeasurable, have an important place in the sporting model of any organisation.

The European Coaching Council in 2007 proposed a paper which suggested that coaching roles and qualifications be separated, but cited the need to map what is considered competencies for specific coaching roles. The coaching role is defined whether you are one of the following:

  • Apprentice coach
  • Coach
  • Senior Coach
  • Master Coach

Some regions including USA, Europe, Australia have established professional associations for coaching ensuring the profession is fiercely protected and where only members of the profession can practice. Some sporting federations have a similar model where coaches have to achieve a certain level of qualification and accreditation to coach at a particular level.

In the coaching environment these days there is a variety of qualifications, accreditation and opportunities for coaches at every level to gain the requisite training and exposure to make it to the top. These days you are either a pre-coach, volunteer coach or a professional coach. Coaching like so many other professions, have become competitive and attracts good pay packages. It is therefore important that organisations prepare its technical teams to get the best out of its athletes/players.

Posted in Uncategorized


July 17 – While news swirl around the world that six top athletes have tested positive for banned substances, the sponsor-athlete relationship is coming into question. One shoe & apparel company has suspended its relationship with its athlete, while one other is “waiting to see”. 

In light of these revelations though, what should the sponsor do? And in going forward, how much more can the sponsor do to help to prevent events which may turn out to be a negative impact on their association? Image

One could argue, who is a sponsor? In this case it is a company and/or an individual who invests in an athlete to promote goods and services aimed at both achieving mutually beneficial bottom line. That is what existed. However more and more sport is becoming competitive on and off the field of play and by extension the competition for air time, column spaces, presence on social media along with personal appearances are proving to be so much more demanding of the athlete. The athlete is therefore faced with the dilemma of earning $$$ and balancing the work that is obviously required to balance this relationship. 

A most recent example of sponsor-athlete relationship was the Tiger Woods and Nike arrangement. Following the news of Tiger’s indiscretions, Nike was one of the few, or maybe the only sponsor who stood by him and today, the Tiger is back at #1 and see a story which highlights some new plans 


Nike has even bought back into Woods who according to is the highest paid athlete in the World – using the perfect quote from Woods at its YouTube page description: “I treat golf as a sport. I let other people treat it like a hobby.”


Sponsors should never ever see themselves as simply the ones to write a cheque – there is so much more to that relationship. So here is my suggestion – replace the term with business partner or investor. Which means there is more to the relationship. Once the agreement has been signed 

  • look at the gaps and work on developing them 
  • embrace the personality of the athlete and strike the balance 
  • Build the programme in keeping with the Corporate Values of excellence, reliability, accountability, respect etc
  • Treat the person as an employee who is valuable to the company 

One of the things we have paid little attention to is the gaps….we have become scared to confront the weaknesses. The strength in that is being able to communicate the effort to apply the corrective measures for a better product. 

We can identify the common weaknesses 

  • inability to speak clearly and effectively 
  • inability to dress appropriately
  • controlling the off-season behaviour 
  • ….among other areas

Once we are honest with those factors then we are on the road to a great partnership. Some words of advice, due diligence is always required in every business or personal choice you make; checks and balances make for a healthy relationship. Don’t be fooled into thinking that what you see on the outside is all that comes from the inside, people will put on facades to tip the scale. 

The sponsor-athlete relationship is a two-way relationship and should be handled with care, but should have the support of integrity, respect and commitment as common ground.