Professional Development for Sports Coaches

Bo Hanson
4x Olympian, Director, and Lead Consultant

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Professional Development for Sports Coaches is critical. The best coaches know that to be the best, they must continue to develop professionally. But with the many types of Professional Development available, it can be difficult to discover the most effective way to improve coaching skills. With this in mind, we thought it would be valuable to pass on the results of ‘The Coaching Panel’, a recent survey by Sports Coach UK of 1,200 coaches. Within this study, one section focused on the Professional Development that Sports Coaches found most valuable in their careers.

The study found how popular each source of learning was with the 76% of coaches who had undertaken Professional Development in the past 12 months.

Sources of Professional Development for Sports Coaches

 “The most popular sources of learning were consistent with what previous research has told us. Coaches are most likely to use their own coaching practice for learning (e.g. talking to and observing other coaches and reflecting on sessions). Using the internet continues to increase in usage when compared to previous research (such as the Coach Tracking Study in 2011). Coaches are also twice as likely to use the Internet as social media as a source of learning.”

Impact of Professional Development for Sports Coaches

In looking at these results, it is clear that the sources of learning found to be most effective and impactful were coaching qualifications, interaction with other coaches, and reflective sessions, and coaching workshops. As it says in the report:

The impact of different forms of learning varies between those that make a significant impact (talking to and observing others, reflection, mentoring and Higher Education courses) and those that make a short term impact (online learning, social media, the Internet, conferences, and reading).

So how do you apply this study to your own Professional Development?

The fact that you are reading this article says that you are at least aware that great coaching is never arrived at, and continuously looking for ways to improve is key.  This is a great first step! 

You may also find valuable the following suggestions:

  1. Firstly, the study was clear on the significant impact that an effective qualification course can have on coaching practice. There are a number of avenues you can pursue.  Often your sport’s governing body or your coaches association (if you have one) can be of tremendous value.  Also other sporting organizations or government agencies offer programs, and of course there are academic opportunities through numerous universities.  This is also an area that Athlete Assessments can help with, and are often asked to facilitate parts of these programs, especially combining what is most impactful in coaching and putting it into practice.  Nothing beats real experience in sport and having a depth of knowledge of what really works.
  2. Secondly, find other coaches in your area that you can observe, learn from, collaborate with, and perhaps create a mentorship relationship with. Don’t forget that talking to coaches from other sports can be helpful. Although the technical requirements of sports differ, rarely is it the technical aspects that keeps a coach up at night. Most often, it is thinking about the specific challenge of how to ‘get through’ to an athlete, or how to resolve team conflict. People are people no matter what sport you are in. 


“A coach should never be afraid to ask questions of anyone they could learn from.”

Where to from here?

We trust you found this article helpful. Here at Athlete Assessments, we contribute to and deliver some of the best coach and professional development programs in sport, all over the world. From a tailored approach to slotting in as a component to an existing program, we ensure you focus on the right areas, in a practical way, to get real results. 

We welcome you to reach out to organize a personal consultation to discuss your organization’s needs, we’re here to provide you with excellence in service and to help you be your best. If there is anything we can assist you with, please Contact Us

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