Developing a coaching culture

This week’s UK Coaching Curious Coaches’ Club featured a conversation with performance consultant Grant Downie, focusing on how to develop a coaching culture. The topic for conversation originated from a coach attending a UK Coaching Community of Practice – fantastic that the Curious Coaches’ Club audience feel able to suggest ideas for content and these come to life quickly!

The follow up Communities of Practice this week were varied and interesting in their discussion. As always, the time spent discussing the principles of Grant’s Curious Coaches’ Club discussion was valuable no matter your sport or level.

Key Discussions in CCC

Take Home Messages

5 in 5

The importance of a team culture and your role in shaping it

Stretching and supporting yourself and others

Benefits of an interdisciplinary approach and top tips for empowering and connecting team members

You have two ears & one mouth for a very good reason.

High Challenge is great but at times requires high support

Don’t be afraid to admit to the IDT or athlete you got it wrong, you are only human

IQ only takes you so far, emotional intelligence always takes you further

Invest time in culture, its not a one off powerpoint talk

Encourage the curiosity of your team members by sending them to see best practice in another organisation that you value. When recruiting, know what you are recruiting for and to what.

In the profiling of recruitment, soft skills and emotional intelligence are the qualities that you should be looking for rather than just academic qualifications.

As the lead of the IDT, share your dream and that will enhance the performance and wellbeing of the athlete and the benefits that this will give to the individual practitioner.

Informal and formal meetings with all key stakeholders tells stories of success of where this has worked and point them in directions that they might want to explore more in this area.

Be patient it will take a lot longer than you think! But keep on the relentless long road.

Fitting or shaping a culture

How do you and your organisation work best together. As a coach in a sport you might be looking for progression, development and opportunities but these may only come about if you are displaying behaviours in line with the culture of your organisation. Therefore, if you do not have a voice when it comes to shaping the culture is it best to modify your behaviours, or stick to your values as a coach? It is a huge question a is possibly a theme in many worlds of coaching, but what is best for you and ultimately the athletes in your care?

Taking people with you

As Grant discussed in the CCC discussion, when recruiting people for his team’s intelligence and qualifications get you through the door, but your soft skills and emotional intelligence make all the difference. If you are in a position where you can shape and influence culture what is (or do you have?) and approach to taking people with you on the journey?

Who are the stakeholders in your team?

Whether you are working at elite level with Olympians of the future or in grassroots sports with volunteers and parents it is important to understand who is in your team and the role that they can play. Here are some suggestions of what an interdisciplinary team might look like from participation to performance:

Performance / Elite Environment

Participation / Grassroots Environment

Head Coach

Position Specific Coaches




Sport Scientist


Age Group Coaches


County FA / County Cricket Board, etc etc

Local Coach Developer / Mentor

National Governing Body


Why not ask the children?

Engaging children in the development of your dream or mission has the potential to make a huge difference to everyone playing their part in bringing it to life. Perhaps as coaches we sometimes don’t ask or value the opinions of the people we are trying to impact on the most. Consider this, if your clubs dream, it’s structure and what coaching looks on a week by week basis was designed by the children, would it look different to what it does now?

Ultimately if you give children all of the choices they may need some support in understanding the consequences of each decision (what would the children prioritise when making choices) but by finding a compromise where young people have a say in culture could make a huge impact on your club achieving its dream.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: