What Makes a Good Youth Sports Coach

We’ve all heard stories about youth sports coaches, both good and bad. There’s the coach who makes training exciting and a fun place to be, and then there’s the coach who yells at the kids, almost as if they enrolled into boot camp. 

If you’re a youth sports coach, there are certain qualities that parents look for and that kids need in a coach and mentor. 

This blog post will highlight what makes a good youth sports coach — it’s both a guide for coaches (what to do and what not to do), and for parents to help them find the right coach for their kids.

What are the qualities of a good coach in youth sports?

Good sports coaches often share similar qualities — they leave behind patterns.

Youth coaches typically have many of the following coaching behaviours: 

  1. They make training fun 
  2. Winning is not the priority 
  3. They teach good sportsmanship
  4. The coach does not play favourites
  5. They are patient
  6. Good youth sport coaches have a positive can-do attitude
  7. Let all kids get involved
  8. Teaches basic skills 
  9. Knows how to effectively communicate with the kids 
  10. Provides equal playing time and opportunities 

They make training fun 

Good sports coaches know how to make training fun (and why it’s important). 

We’ve all seen or heard the screaming coach — it’s not a good look, and it’s the wrong approach to coaching (especially when coaching young kids).

Training should be fun and may include friendly competition.

For example, there’s the classic warm up of stuck in the mud, tag, and other fun games.

If you’re in the pool, you might play a game such as attack of the killer bees (tag with pool noodles). Although, no contact with the face or head is allowed.

Or maybe if you’re playing football, you’ll finish the session with a quick round of crossbar challenge, involving all players and keeping things fun and competitive.

Winning is not the priority 

Winning should not be a priority of a youth coach.

Yes, it may feel good. And the team may enjoy it. But the priority should be to have fun.

Young athletes who enjoy training are more likely to stick with it, whether that’s for months or years.

Furthermore, not winning actually teaches many life lessons and skills, especially if you experience these from a young age. 

They teach good sportsmanship

Good sportsmanship should be taught from an early age. It not only teaches respect in the world of sport, but in life.

At the end of a session, youth coaches might ask their athletes to high-five each other.

At the end of a game, players should handshake their opponents.

Good youth sports coaches recognise the opportunity to teach proper sportsmanship and respect, and include these behaviours where possible and appropriate.

The coach does not play favourites 

The same can be said for any coach, whether in youth sports, high school, or at the elite level.

A good coach should never have favourites. 

Yes, they might have one or two star athletes (this is normal), but during training, they should provide their attention to all athletes. Not one, two, or a select group.

Prioritising certain children and athletes over others should be an instant red flag.

Related: What qualities make a great sports coach? 

They are patient 

At the end of the day, kids are kids.

They’ll talk over one another, they might not listen the first time, and you’ll have to repeat things over and over.

A good sports coach at the youth level needs to be very patient. 

That means not shouting when they don’t listen, and being willing to go the extra mile to explain concepts to kids who might be struggling to grasp them on the first try. It’s part of the learning process and part of developing new skills. 

This patience and dedication go a long way — you’ll see first-hand how much of a profound effect you can have on young athletes.

Good youth sports coaches have a positive can-do attitude 

At some point or another, we’ve all had (or seen) a coach who had a positive attitude — they were enthusiastic and pushed us to achieve more than we thought was possible.

A youth sports coach with a positive attitude is highly underrated. They motivate kids to attend practice, push themselves, and face many challenges.

They are also typically great at providing positive reinforcement and building self confidence in kids.

Related: What is the Most Effective Way to Provide Feedback to an Athlete?

Training instantly becomes more fun and enjoyable, and kids are equally as excited to attend the training session.

Compare this to a coach who shouts and screams at their athletes, and you’ll see first-hand how powerful that can-do attitude is. 

Enthusiasm is infectious — look for this quality in a youth sports coach. 

Let all kids get involved

A great coach lets all kids get involved, not just one individual player.

Excluding any kid or athlete is a sign of a bad coach.

Youth coaching (and any coaching) is about inclusivity. 

Excluding any kid is not only harmful in the moment (they may feel left out, upset, etc.), but you might stop them from playing sports later in life.

Sports exclusion is one of the worst things you can do — it’s not a good coaching behaviour. Avoid this at all costs, especially in youth.

Related: 5 Qualities of a Bad Coach (And How to Avoid Them).

Teaches basic skills 

A good youth sports coach focuses on the development of young kids (that includes teaching basic skills).

Often, these skills will be naturally built into training sessions and school PE classes.

For example, life skills such as teamwork, good communication, sportsmanship, and even fundamental physical skills (balance, jumping, running, hopping, etc.) are commonly taught.

These are easy to implement (but very important), and kids usually don’t even realise what lessons and skills they’re being taught until later in life.

Knows how to effectively communicate with the kids

While all coaches need to be effective communicators (it’s an integral part of coaching), it’s especially important when coaching young athletes and kids.

Young people have shorter spans of attention. They are more likely to become distracted. And you might need to explain a concept multiple times (visual and auditory) for them to get it.

Good coaches know this and are extremely patient with the kids. They have great communication skills and use these in (and out of) practice to get the most out of young athletes. 

Provides equal playing time and opportunities 

And finally, youth sports coaches should provide equal playing time and opportunities for all their athletes.

During training, that means everybody gets time on the ball, has equal opportunities to shoot hoops, and nobody is excluded in a game of tag.

Good youth coaches know how to involve all kids in a fun and engaging way — training becomes exciting, and kids look forward to their next session.

Which, as you can imagine, has many positive rebound effects.



How to Teach Mental Toughness in Sports

Mental toughness is often associated with an unshakable self-belief, the refusal to quit, and impressive self confidence.

Professional athletes, in particular, are known to face adversity head-on, staying concentrated on the task at hand, regardless of what obstacles are thrown their way [2]. 

Many of the very best athletes understand that the need to develop mental toughness is crucial. It’s what separates the best from the very best.

Conversely, if an athlete lacks mental toughness, then they are less likely to give it their all in both training and competition. 

Which athlete would you rather have on your team? 

Some athletes are more mentally tough than others; it’s just how it is. And it’s the way that it will always be.

But mental toughness can be trained. So that’s what this blog post is all about — this is a guide for coaches on how to teach mental toughness in sports.

Key takeaways:

  • Mental toughness and resilience can be trained
  • Use SMART goal setting to build discipline and accountability  
  • Create training scenarios to mimic dips in mental toughness 

A few examples of mental toughness in sport

When you think of an athlete who is mentally tough, your mind likely goes to those who persevere and push through adversity. Usually, it’s the athletes who show up and give it their all, game after game, session after session.

It’s the talented athletes who have the mental strength to ride a solo breakaway at the Giro d’Italia with 80 km to go. It’s those who play with food poisoning and get promoted to the NBA finals. And it’s the athletes who fight with their teammate for multiple seasons but go on to win the world championship with Mercedes at the very last Formula One race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

It’s the Chris Froomes, the Michael Jordans, and the Nico Rosbergs of the world. They’re all incredible athletes who can access the present moment and play the mental game exceptionally well. 

And that’s only a few examples of elite athletes who have unshakable mental toughness. 

The “food poisoning game” 

It’s game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals — the Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz.

It’s 2 am in the early hours of the morning, and Michael Jordan orders a pizza. He’s starving, and there’s only 1 place open. But what he doesn’t know is that he’ll later go on to get food poisoning, spending all day in bed, throwing up. 

Most people would not play the same evening. Most people would still be in bed, wishing they could play and feeling sorry for themselves. But not Michael Jordan.

Jordan was the heart and centre of that game. He went on to score 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. The Chicago Bulls moved on to game 6 and went on to win the 1997 NBA finals.

The game was labelled the famous “food poisoning game,” and to this day, nobody knows how Michael Jordan did it. 

If this isn’t the most perfect example of mental toughness in Elite sport we’ve ever seen, then what is?

It may sound simple, but both winning and losing can become a mindset, and I won’t accept losing – ever. — Scottie Pippen, Former Basketball Player for The Chicago Bulls. 

How to teach mental toughness 

Many athletes and coaches stand firm in the belief that mental toughness is genetic — it’s a thing some athletes have. And something other athletes do not have.

And while we agree that some athletes may be naturally more mentally tough than others, coaches can still teach mental toughness in sports.

But how do you teach it, you ask?

  1. Teach discipline and goal-directed behaviour 
  2. Use failure as an opportunity to learn
  3. Create training scenarios to mimic competition 
  4. Use Rewire to improve mental toughness 

Teach discipline and goal-directed behaviour 

Expert coaches and elite athletes agree that discipline and goal-directed behaviour are essential components of mental toughness [1].

As a coach, you should use goal-setting principles to keep your athletes motivated and focused on the task at hand. So when it comes to it, they can rise up to the challenge and practise mental toughness.

You should coach your athletes on how to set SMART goals. This type of goal setting is very effective in sports and can help athletes persevere, whether rehabbing from an injury or practising their free throw.

The SMART acronym stands for [3]:

  • Specific: state exactly what you want to achieve or improve.
  • Measurable: how can you accurately measure progress?
  • Achievable: Is it possible? You need to be realistic.
  • Realistic: your goals should be challenging, but not impossible.
  • Time-bound: set a realistic timeframe to achieve your goals.

Use failure as an opportunity to learn

The very best athletes use failure as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve.

And although it’s a useful tool to get better, many athletes (and everyday people) do not do well with failure.

Failure can easily knock an athlete’s self confidence, and just easily negatively impact their mental toughness. 

As a coach, you should teach your athletes not to fear failure. Embracing failure is a way to get better — to find your weaknesses (as a player or a team), and ultimately provides the groundwork and motivation to do better.

Athletes do not want to make mistakes. But it’s these mistakes that allow them to learn and improve. Take Jonny Brownlee, for example; he was set to win the final race of the World Triathlon Series in Mexico back in 2016, only to encounter severe dehydration in the final stretch of the race. He would have won the race, but instead, he was carried over the finish line by his brother, Alistair, to finish second. 

And what did Jonny do? He made sure not to make the same hydration mistakes again.

It’s these mistakes that can be very difficult to deal with in the moment, but are crucial mistakes to learn. It’s what creates mentally tough athletes.

Create training scenarios to mimic competition 

During competition, you might notice some athletes lose motivation and subsequent mental toughness — they’re more likely to make a mistake, less likely to put in the effort, and may allow the decision from a referee to get the best of them.

Situations that zap mental toughness can be coached and mitigated in training.

For example, if an athlete loses motivation and scuffs their shots when they’re losing, create the same scenario in training to mimic competition.

Practice lapses in mental toughness and motivation in practice, and make sure they don’t happen when they matter most.

Use Rewire for teams to improve mental toughness

Coaches can use Rewire to improve focus, increase readiness for their athletes to perform, and reduce stress.

Athletes also gain access to the Athlete Platform — the ultimate toolkit to help athletes improve mindset, manage stress, and improve mental toughness in the run-up to competition. 

Coaches can use Rewire to prescribe neuro-training sessions that best suit an athlete’s readiness. Athletes can also select their own neuro-training protocols to further build mental toughness and resilience. The neuro-training sessions utilises brain-endurance training protocols to help athletes build mental toughness.

Related: Overview of Rewire’s Neuro-Training System

And that’s not it. Coaches can use Rewire to assess athletes’ readiness scores — this allows you to adjust training load and intensity for each athlete based on how they feel mentally and physically.

“There has been huge advancements in the way we train the body for peak performance. I truly believe that the next major gains will be surrounding the brain/body connection. Rewire Fitness is an app that helps with just that.” — Matt Hanson, Professional Triathlete and Coach.

How do athletes work on mental toughness?

You can apply all the best coaching principles in the world, but at the end of the day, your athletes also need to work on their mental toughness.

They need to apply the principles and practise the habits and lessons to increase their mental toughness.

Athletes can also use tools such as Rewire, using scientifically proven neuro-training protocols to build mental toughness and resilience.

“With the app, it’s giving you a controlled environment and structure so that you can choose when you want to add mental training to your workouts, and you can do it as often as you’d like.” — Laura Kline, Elite Ultra runner & Endurance Athlete.


How to build mental toughness in young athletes?

To build mental toughness in youth athletes, you should practise discipline and SMART goal setting. Make sure to set difficult but achievable goals for the best results.
Related: How to Build Mental Toughness in Youth Athletes

What is the best sport for mental toughness?

Virtually all sports, when done correctly, can be an excellent vessel for improving mental toughness. Although, gymnastics is often a standout sport for many, especially because athletes start training as early as 2 years old.

Can mental toughness be trained? 

Yes! Mental toughness and mental resilience can be trained. And while some athletes may naturally be more mentally tough than others, the trait can certainly be improved. 

Fourie, S. and Potgieter, J.R., 2001. The nature of mental toughness in sport. South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, 23(2), pp.63-72.

Liew, G.C., Kuan, G., Chin, N.S. and Hashim, H.A., 2019. Mental toughness in sport. German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research, 49(4), pp.381-394.

McCarthy, P.J. and Gupta, S., 2022. Set goals to get goals: Sowing seeds for success in sports. Frontiers for Young Minds, 10(10.3389). 


What Makes a Good High School Sports Coach?

A high school sports coach is a very unique role — you’re not only developing student athletes to achieve their best, but you’re also a part of the wider school community.

You’ll teach fundamental skills to kids and advanced tactics to others. You’ll coach an entire netball or football team over the course of multiple seasons, and if you’re lucky, you might experience great success.

Oftentimes, you’ll also be a shoulder to lean on (or cry on), someone to talk to when an athlete is going through tough times, and you’ll teach general life skills to set up the next generation for success.

It’s rewarding. It’s demanding. And it’s one of a kind.

But what makes a good high school coach? Here’s everything you need to know.

Key takeaways:

  • You’re more than a coach; you’re a mentor 
  • Try to get the best out of each of your athletes
  • Know how to provide effective feedback & support

High school coach qualities 

  1. Provide a positive experience for all students
  2. The coach genuinely cares about their athletes
  3. A good coach pushes their athletes but also supports them
  4. Improve players’ weaknesses and double down on their strengths
  5. A good coach teaches the importance of discipline
  6. Lead by example
  7. Teaching that it’s not always about winning
  8. Use technology to provide effective coaching feedback

Provide a positive experience for all students

High school students have a lot of responsibilities. 

Unlike elite athletes who eat, sleep, and train, high school athletes have a lot more on their plate. For example, they have classes, exams, hobbies, relationships, and other things going on in their lives.

It’s unlikely and unrealistic to assume that student athletes can follow the same day-to-day recipe for elite success.

A lot of kids also run into family problems, relationship issues, and bullying. It’s not just about sport.

This is not unheard of — high school can be a tough time for a lot of kids. 

That’s why it’s even more important to provide a positive experience for all students as a high school coach.

For a lot of kids, sports are a way to relieve stress, hang out with friends, and have fun. But to make sure they get the most out of it, high school coaches should:

  • Encourage sport participation
  • Keep training fun and interactive
  • Emphasise teamwork and good sportsmanship 

The coach genuinely cares about their athletes

A high school sports coach who actually cares about their athletes — how they are doing in school and in general — will provide a lot more value to the youth than others.

Most likely, they will also play a much bigger role in youth development. 

Unlike a sports coach who’s coaching the world’s best basketball or football team, high school sports coaches face numerous unique challenges.

Yes, you might have one or two-star athletes. And you might have a team capable of winning a state championship. But you’re also part of the school community — there’s a lot more to it than the eye can see.

Great coaches (especially in youth) also teach life lessons, are mentors, and oftentimes, are somebody to talk to on or off the field if a kid is going through a tough time.

But who knows, you might have student athletes succeed, too. That’s the dream of every high school coach.

A good coach pushes their athletes but also supports them 

A good high school sports coach knows how to get the most out of his/her athletes.

But equally, they are there to support them when they need it. Whether that’s after a defeat, through injury, a tough training session, or the stress from exams and high school.

A good high school coach knows when to push their athletes and when to step off the gas and tone down the intensity. 

As part of a wider community, you have more responsibility. Some training sessions will be skipped for exams, and for others, kids may feel unmotivated, tired, and not in the zone to perform.

The best coaches recognise this and work with (and not against) the athlete to get the most out of the students. 

Improve players’ weaknesses and double down on their strengths

Many coaches are quick to identify a player’s weaknesses. Maybe their short pass could be improved, their form breaks down in the last 400m of a race, or their long pass is inconsistent.

And while fixing (or at least improving) these weaknesses is a must — you should also double down on their strengths.

Perhaps the athlete has an excellent long pass, great leadership qualities, or is dominant when running elbow to elbow on the track.

Many successful coaches improve athletes’ weaknesses but also double down on their strengths.

This contributes to player development but may also result in overall better teamwork on the pitch. It’s no surprise that the best coaches take the best skills and qualities from their athletes and use these to their advantage in competition. 

So what should you do as a coach?

  • Identify your athlete’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Work on these one at a time
  • Ensure the coaching experience is more positive than negative

A good coach teaches the importance of discipline

Youth sport and sports at high school teaches the importance of discipline and hard work.

Students will show up to training even when tired, push when needed, and get the most out of themselves (with the support of a good high school sports coach).

A lot of the skills you teach your athletes are transferable outside of sports. For instance, the discipline they learn on the track, court, or field can be applied to their studies and futures. 

For example, a conversation on goal setting in sports can be put to use in other domains of life.

Good high school sports coaches recognise the opportunity to teach valuable life advice in sports. Many of your athletes don’t want to become the next LeBron James, but you can teach many lessons that can be applied off the court.

Recognise this and put your knowledge to good work! 

Lead by example

We’ve all met that one coach who has a positive attitude no matter what. Win or lose. Rain or shine.

If you can lead by example and with the right attitude, you’ll encourage kids to do the same.

Share your love for sport, teach the importance of respect and a good work ethic, and you’ll hopefully get the same in return.

Coaching high school students can be very rewarding. And a lot of the time, you get out what you put in. It starts with your approach to coaching — so put in what you want to get out.

Teaching that it’s not always about winning

Winning feels great. But it’s not always about winning — it’s about growing as a team and giving it your all. 

As a high school sports coach, you should teach the value of improving (as a player and a team) over winning. 

This lesson goes beyond sports. Knowing how to deal with stress, loss, and failure is a very valuable life lesson.

Sports contain many highs and lows. Often, kids will encounter these first-hand in the game. A good coach teaches athletes how to deal with adversity.

Use technology to provide effective coaching feedback

Giving feedback to high school students can be tough. While some kids may have dreams of becoming professional athletes, others may want to focus on an entirely different area in life. And that’s okay.

But to provide more effective feedback, you need to better relate to the students — you can use technology to do this. 

The current generation of high school kids are very good at using technology. So why not take advantage of this?

For instance, you might use a smartphone to capture an athlete’s form for visual feedback or use fun and interactive training videos to teach fundamental skills.

And while you may need to adapt your coaching strategies ever so slightly, you’ll find it to be very rewarding.

Rewire for Teams — Athlete Management Platform

Rewire for high school coaches 

High school coaches have a great amount of responsibility — they are a huge part of the school community, and for many athletes, are trusted mentors.

A lot of the coaching you’ll do in a high school will be general talent development and fundamental skills training.

But you’ll likely also have a handful of athletes who have the skill, ability, and desire to go that little bit further.

Rewire for teams can help you provide better coaching recommendations and insights for these athletes. You can monitor their stress management and readiness for training to better balance school and sports. It also means you’ll have better data to prepare for training and competition.

Book a free consultation today to learn more about how Rewire can help your team.


What are the best qualities of a sports coach?

A good sports coach is positive, supportive, a mentor to their athletes, respectful, and very good at communicating. The best coaches also recognise that their coaching goes beyond sports.

What are the characteristics of a good mentor?

Good mentors (in sports and in life) are good listeners, are very knowledgeable, honest, non-judgemental, and know how to give quality feedback.

What skills are needed to be a sports coach? 

Professional coaching skills include a good understanding of sports, patience, a keen eye for analysis, great organisational skills, and others.

Related Topics:

What Separates a Good Coach From a Great Coach?
What Qualities Make a Great Sports Coach?
6 Ways to Inspire Your Sports Team as a Coach
5 Qualities of a Bad Coach (And How to Avoid Them)


5 Qualities of a Bad Coach (And How to Avoid Them)

Know what qualities of a bad coach to look out for for the best experience.

Chances are, you’ve seen a bad coach or two. And if not, then you’ve definitely heard stories.

There’s the bad coach who yells at their athletes at the most minor of inconveniences; there’s the coach who encourages their athletes to run through pain; and others who do not listen to the athlete’s needs.

If you’re an athlete and you’re mentored by a bad coach, you may encounter a mix of issues ranging from injury to a lack of motivation to train. 

And if you’re a coach, it’s a good idea to watch out for these bad coaching qualities to ensure your athletes can progress and grow in a supportive environment. After all, it’s the coach’s responsibility to get the most out of their athletes.

So what are the bad qualities of a coach?

5 qualities of a bad coach

If you’re a coach, these are the bad qualities you should pay extra attention to:

  1. Bad coaches provide more criticism than positive feedback 
  2. A sole focus on winning
  3. Chooses favourites
  4. Pressures players to play when injured
  5. Does not listen to athlete feedback

Continue reading to see how each bad quality may contribute to a bad coach.

Related: What Qualities Make a Great Sports Coach?

1. Bad coaches provide more criticism than positive feedback

There are many types of feedback coaches can provide athletes. At the most basic level, there is positive and negative feedback.

Positive feedback is your standard: “Keep going; you’re doing great. Only 400 metres to go” approach. On the other hand, negative feedback could be the “you’re too slow, you’re never going to win a race” type of feedback. 

The second is the type we want to avoid at all costs.

Bad coaches often provide more negative feedback or criticism than positive feedback. Unfortunately, this is often counterproductive and can cause athletes to not look forward to, or even dread training.

Instead, there is a better way to think about feedback.

The skill training communication model

If you’re a coach, you should consider personalising your feedback. This is something a lot of good coaches do.

The skill training communication model takes into account the skill level of the athlete to determine what type of feedback works best.

For example, beginner athletes are more likely to benefit from basic trial and error and positive model learning (demonstrated technique and execution). Alternatively, more experienced and elite athletes will benefit from more instructive and direct feedback. 

In the elite population, this could include technique adjustment suggestions (“drive your knees high and push forward with your hips.”).

Although a simple change in how a coach provides feedback, it provides a mix of instructional methods to get the most out of your athletes based on their current skill and experience.

Related: What is the Most Effective Way to Provide Feedback to an Athlete?

2. A sole focus on winning 

“If he dies, he dies.” Okay, well, not quite. But it’s that Rocky IV approach that you should avoid at all costs.

Coaches who focus solely on winning are typically not the best coaches.

And while results matter, athlete development and progress are more important.

In fact, focusing on athlete development, progression and teamwork (if a team sport) can mean the difference between winning and losing.

3. Chooses favourites

It’s obvious to spot, and it makes other athletes feel left out. If you’re a coach, avoid choosing favourites.

And while you may have that one “star” athlete, when training in a group, provide the same respect, attention, and time to all of your athletes.

There shouldn’t be the “chosen athletes” and then the “other athletes.” It should be one team.

4. Bad coaches often pressure players to play when injured

When an athlete has an injury, they need rest and recovery. It’s coaching 101.

But when a coach encourages an athlete to play or train through injury, this is a major red flag.

No athlete should play through pain and injury, even if it means the difference between winning and losing.

A coach who puts their needs first, not listening to their athletes and encourages players to play through pain and injury is one to avoid. 

5. Does not listen to athlete feedback

Some coaches often do not listen to athlete feedback. Instead, it’s often the “what they say goes” approach.

There are numerous issues with this coaching method. 

Firstly, having open communication between coaches and athletes is crucial. If an athlete feels like they cannot speak up, they won’t get the most out of themselves during training.

A great example of this is an athlete feeling a slight twinge, pain, or niggle during training or competition. A bad coach may create an environment where speaking up about their injury is not encouraged. Alternatively, if they do mention it, they may be told to run or play through pain.

Open communication between the coach/coaching staff and athletes can help protect their athletes from injury, not only causing pain, but potentially ruining their season or even career. 

So if you’re a coach, how can you improve communication? It starts with being present and available for your athletes. Stay behind after practice, ask what they thought about the session, and be there for your athletes if they need you. 

Bad coaching in youth sports

A bad coach is a bad coach. Period.

Unfortunately, many kids who play sports also encounter a bad coach.

Coaching at the youth level (for most kids) should be about teaching valuable life lessons, involving the whole team, and making training fun.

Just like any other coach, youth coaches should not play favourites, exclude players, and should not prioritise their own child (if they also coach them — which is common).

Parents should meet with youth coaches before practice and ask for reviews from other parents to find the best coach for their sport. You can also find coaches through schools.

What makes a bad coach?

In many ways, it’s easier to identify what makes a bad coach than a good one.

Typically, bad coaches are easy to spot — you’ll find them screaming at their athletes, athletes will complain about them, practice is something they dread, and you’ll see a bunch of athletes hobbling off the pitch or field with injuries. Although, this is not always the case — just an extreme observation.

Related: What Separates a Good Coach From a Great Coach? 

To summarise 

Many coaches are great at what they do. But some coaches have a few bad qualities, some of which we’ve highlighted in this blog post.

If you’re a coach, consider working on any bad qualities you may have. This will make you a better coach and mentor for your athletes.

But it doesn’t have to end there. 

All coaches are looking for new ways to gain that competitive edge, to find a few extra seconds here and there, and to stand out against their competitors. It’s what sport is all about.

Rewire for teams provides a mental fitness platform for coaches, alongside a handful of useful tools for your athletes. As a coach, you can view insights into your athlete’s readiness scores, providing you with essential data to make smarter recovery decisions. This allows you to tailor your coaching to each individual athlete, enabling you to unlock their full potential. 

With Rewire, we have been able to help understand our athletes mental state which has allowed us to adjust our practices, weight lifting, time with the athletes, study halls, etc. where we are better able to manage them on an individual basis as well as collectively. This is a tool every coach should have in their toolbox.” — Will Hander (Head Coach Men’s Soccer, University of Providence)

Find out more about Rewire for coaches


How do you tell if you have a bad coach?

There are many signs of a bad coach but some include winning over everything else, picking favourites, providing negative feedback, and having poor communication with their athletes.

How do bad coaches affect athletes?

Bad coaches can bring players down mentally and physically. They can drain their motivation for their sport, stagnate performance, and even cause mental health issues.

Related Topics:

What Separates a Good Coach From a Great Coach?

What Qualities Make a Great Sports Coach?

6 Ways to Inspire Your Sports Team as a Coach


Book a Free Consultation

What is the Most Effective Way to Provide Feedback to an Athlete?

Do you know how to provide effective feedback to an athlete? Here’s how.

How hard can it be to give feedback to your athletes? While it may be straightforward to identify what they are doing well and what they need to improve, communicating this feedback is a whole other game.

So it likely comes as no surprise that many coaches ask themselves the following question: what is the most effective way to provide feedback to an athlete? 

The most effective way to provide feedback, based on current research, is to provide athletes with personalised feedback based on their current skill level. 

For example, you wouldn’t provide constructive and very technical feedback to a beginner, much like you wouldn’t provide very basic feedback to an elite athlete.

This blog post explains why feedback is important and provides you with all the info you need to give effective feedback to your athletes.

Key takeaways:

  • Provide your athletes with different types of feedback depending on their current skill level
  • Evaluate athlete performance
  • Balance objective and subjective feedback for the best results 

Why is feedback important?

As a coach, your job is to teach and mentor your athletes to improve their performance. But providing feedback is not as simple as saying what an athlete is doing well, and what they can improve. It’s a little more complicated than that.

Related: What Separates a Good Coach From a Great Coach?

Feedback and coach-to-athlete communication play a pivotal role in the development of an athlete’s ability. 

If you provide feedback correctly, you’re more likely to see rapid improvements in technical skill, coordination, and overall performance training. It’s less of “stop doing that,” and more of “why don’t you try this instead.”

One way to provide the most effective feedback to an athlete is to follow the skill training communication model—but more on this shortly.

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” — John Wooden, Basketball Coach.

How do you give feedback to an athlete? 

When giving feedback, common instructions might include phrases such as, “arms high,” “focus on the ball,” or “drive your knees forward.”

But instead of providing basic instructive feedback to all athletes, you should provide a certain type of feedback to your athletes based on their skill level.

This type of feedback is much more personalised, and can be adapted easily to the skill of your athletes. 

Use the skill training communication model 

The skill communication model takes into account the athlete’s skill level to determine which type of feedback to provide [2].

Many coaches make the mistake of providing the same coaching and feedback to all athletes. And at first glance, it makes sense — it’s easy to do, and all athletes are looking to improve. So why wouldn’t you?

But instead of providing all athletes with the same or similar feedback, you should tailor your feedback approach to their skill level. 

For instance, athletes who are beginners to the sport — in the coordination training phase — may be better suited to general trial and error, learning basic coordination and movement before more technically demanding skills.

Examples of feedback for beginner athletes include:

  • “Can you pass the ball to the next free player in front of you right after receiving it?” 
  • “Try different ways of throwing the ball to pass it to your teammate behind the defender.” 
  • “Attack the ball by diving into it like superman” 

Rather, athletes who have more experience and are competing at a high level, perhaps dealing with intense pressure, may benefit more from direct, or instructional feedback from a coach.

Examples of direct feedback you can provide your athletes include:

  • “Try both legs to carry equal weight. Then move arms and hands together in one unit, while keeping the wrists solid.”
  • When the pitcher’s front foot plans, look at the arm position and the way the shoulder turns.” 

The previous examples of effective athlete feedback were taken directly from the skill training communication model.

And athletes who fall into the “skill adaptability training” category — that is, athletes still developing skills but also involved in competition — are more likely to benefit from a wider range of feedback methods. You can view all recommended feedback methods here.

Furthermore, it’s thought that athletes in the “skill adaptability training” phase will benefit from competition at a higher level, but at the right times and in small doses. For instance, asking a younger (or less experienced) athlete to sit on the bench during a competitive game.

What is the best way to evaluate athlete performance?

Evaluating athlete performance is a necessary part of providing feedback. The better you understand what an athlete is doing right (and what can be improved), the easier it is to provide the right type of feedback.

So what is the best way to evaluate athlete performance? You can try:

  • Live athlete feedback (part of the skill training communication model)
  • Prioritise objective feedback

Continue reading to see how you can approach each athlete’s feedback evaluation method.

Live athlete feedback

Live athlete feedback is a collaborative effort between the coach and the athlete.

Instead of telling the athlete what they should do differently, you can sit down with them and show a recording to demonstrate your point better.

This type of evaluative feedback can be both positive and constructive. 

The athlete messaging system on Rewire’s Teams Platform allows Coaches to provide direct feedback and send Mindset Recovery sessions to your athletes when they need it most.

Provide a healthy balance of subjective and objective feedback

Subjective feedback is how an athlete (and the coach) feels — how did the performance go? Objective feedback is based on data — how fast did you run, what was your heart rate, maximum watts, or finishing position?

While it’s easy to prioritise objective feedback (thanks to the abundance of data available), athletes and coaches should adopt a balanced approach of objective vs subjective feedback [1,3].

A great example of combining the two approaches is live athlete feedback, as previously stated. You can assess both objective (what you see on the screen) and subjective (how the athlete felt and how the coach responded) feedback.

Rewire for teams & coaches

Find out how Rewire can help improve your coaching approach by providing you with valuable feedback, including how well-rested and ready for training your athletes are — we call this “the readiness score.” 

With this data, you can make smarter training and recovery decisions, tailoring your coaching to each athlete. Pair this with the best feedback types for the athlete’s skill level, and you’ve got a framework for success.

“The athletes using Rewire so far are loving it and its improved communication and awareness around readiness. The fact that cognitive toll is accounted for athletes with busy work lives means that we capture a broader holistic understanding of fatigue and where it’s coming from.”

— Bevan McKinnon (Head Coach Fitter Coaching (Triathlon)

Find out more about Rewire for teams


  1. Montull, L., Slapšinskaitė-Dackevičienė, A., Kiely, J., Hristovski, R. and Balagué, N., 2022. Integrative proposals of sports monitoring: Subjective outperforms objective monitoring. Sports medicine-open, 8(1), pp.1-10.
  2. Otte, F.W., Davids, K., Millar, S.K. and Klatt, S., 2020. When and how to provide feedback and instructions to athletes?—How sport psychology and pedagogy insights can improve coaching interventions to enhance self-regulation in training. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, p.1444.
  3. Saw, A.E., Main, L.C. and Gastin, P.B., 2016. Monitoring the athlete training response: subjective self-reported measures trump commonly used objective measures: a systematic review. British journal of sports medicine, 50(5), pp.281-291. 

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