The Dominant Sport Coaching Style

Bo Hanson
4x Olympian, Director, and Lead Consultant

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The four different DISC coaching styles are discussed in the article Understanding and Using the Four Coaching Styles and this article is dedicated to the Dominant Sport Coaching Style. Here is a summary of the Dominant Sport Coaching Style (‘D Style’ Coach):

  • A ‘D Style’ Coach is highly directive and decisive. They guide the athlete with clear and concise instructions, monitoring and correcting as progress is made.
  • The athlete requires high technical instruction but has low relationship/motivational needs.
  • D Style coaching works well with novice athletes (who lack skills and need direct instructions), athletes learning a new position or changing into a new sport entirely, who are motivated and enthusiastic.
  • Examples of situations when the D Style of coaching is appropriate are when vital information needs to be given urgently, where the setting and driving high standards is necessary, when time is limited or when decisive action is needed.

If you are using a Dominant Style (D Style) of coaching you are highly involved with everything your athlete does technically. You guide them in detail with what they are required to do and then closely monitor their progress, giving corrective instructions immediately. This style provides clarity and your athlete always know where they stand and how they are doing in terms of their performance. The athlete also benefits as the close monitoring and immediate feedback keeps their technique and performance on a straighter path.


The Dominant sport coaching style is best used with novice athletes (who lack skills and need to be given direct instructions), athletes learning a new position or changing into a new sport entirely. These athletes have few technical skills but are likely to be motivated and enthusiastic.

In using this coaching style, you provide a lot of technical direction, as this is the area you need to develop most in your athlete. Emotional support (relationship or people focused behavior) is not as critical at this stage as the athlete’s own  enthusiasm allows for almost all the reinforcement they should need. However, it is always a case of shifting quickly to giving positive feedback when effort is excellent or skills have been well performed. (When this positive reinforcement is used, it is an example of the Influence Style of coaching.)


If you attempt to use a Dominant Style with more experienced athletes, they may resent your “micromanaging” or feel that you do not believe they can perform basic skills. As athletes become more experienced you can adapt your style to more Conscientious, Influence or Steady from giving such concentrated direction of the Dominant Style.

However, if you are not providing enough technical direction when athletes need this style of coaching, athletes can drift, and become disengaged with the skill they are developing as they see their progress slow.

Where to from here?

The CoachDISC is the only sport specific tool available for identifying what your preferred coaching style is. Without this tool, one can learn about their style from the observation of experienced coaches or by video taping your coaching and looking for evidence of your preferred communication and coaching style.

Once you are aware of your sport coaching style, it becomes easier for you to add into your coaching practice the aspects that your natural coaching style may lack but your athletes still require.

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Where so many other factors in sport, across sports programs and organizations are very similar, effectively managing the ‘people side’ is what differentiates the mediocre and truly great. DISC Profiling will take your team’s performance to the next level, allowing you to get ahead and stay ahead.

Our team packages include our sport-specific DISC Assessments plus importantly, a series of consultations via video conference. Our goal is to use the information of the DISC profiles to the benefit of your program and coaching and make it as useful and practical as possible.

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Bo Hanson

Senior Consultant & Director

Bo Hanson’s career within the sport and the business sector spans over 25 years, delivering leadership, management, and coach development. In addition to his own athletic career comprising of four Olympic appearances and including three Olympic medals, Bo has worked for many years with coaches and athletes from over 40 different sports across the globe. Bo was also the winner of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) 2023 Award for L&D Professional of the Year, for his dedication to L&D and transformational work across various industries.

After a successful career in sport including four Olympics and three Olympic Medals, Bo co-founded and developed Athlete Assessments in 2007. Bo now focuses on working with clients to achieve their own success on and off ‘the field’, and has attained an unmatched track-record in doing exactly this.

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BoRowing-Atlanta Olympics

Now, watch us interrupt him for a round of quick fire questions.