To coach or not to coach?

When athletes decide to retire, one of the most commonly suggested career paths is coaching.  Someone who has spent most of their life training for a sport and becoming an expert in it may feel that they want to give something back as a coach. 

However, some have argued that since many former athletes have only ever coached at the highest levels and have never coached beginners, they don’t know enough about coaching methods. 

Research has found that former elite athletes often have impressive levels of technical and tactical knowledge as well as strong abilities to interact with athletes in their sport. It is also known that coaches with higher levels of experience often go on to gain the highest qualifications in coaching and many of the world’s top coaches were also high calibre athletes themselves. 

Being a great athlete and being a great coach require very different skills so you don’t need to have been a brilliant athlete to be coach to a high level.

Graham Henry, who coached New Zealand when they won the rugby union world cup last year, is a good example of someone who didn’t play at the highest levels as a player but went on to be a superb coach.

Sport is not the only environment where effective coaching is vital, read an article about sports psychologists working with the army.

The latest sports psychology news and features, during the Olympics and Paralympics, can be found on our Going for Gold website.

Once there you can take part in our online experiment, which gives you the chance to walk the path of a judoko preparing for a judo bout.