Student-Centred Coaching Approach

What You Can Do to Create a Student-Centred Coaching Approach

The following are some ideas that you as a coach can consider to create a student-centred coaching approach:


Student-Centred Coaching Approach



Examples of Student-Centred Activities


Develop a sound coaching philosophy

  • Act as a guide or mentor
  • Use a variety of coaching and instructional techniques. Adapt drills with progressive variations that account for athlete progress
  • Coach keeping in mind that athletes learn differently: make use of audio, visual, mental, and kinesthetic stimuli to engage athletes
  • Write your coaching philosophy and share with your athletes and their parents
  • Gain further coaching skills – check out Canada’s National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) at:

Create a safe, respectful, and non-threatening environment

  • Check the practice and competition site for safe playing surfaces free of obstacles that may injure and athlete
  • Provide safe practices with skills and exercises appropriate for the age and development of the athlete
  • Apply training principles in a progressive manner that is within the safe range of performance of the athlete for the training stage
  • Communicate carefully and sensitively for individual and cultural differences
  • Engage athletes in creating an abuse and harassment free sport environment

Ensure positive development of each student athlete


  • Apply the principles found in the Canadian Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) and the Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L) materials
  • Adapt training and skill implementation to the age and development of the athlete
  • Develop a skill checklist for the stage of development of your athletes
  • Implement a prevention and recovery plan for your program
  • Focus on having fun and developing Fundamental sport Movement Skills


Establish rapport and respect

  • Allow athletes a degree of choice: setting personal and team goals during pre- and mid-season
  • Engage athletes in setting team codes of conduct and consequences for breaking the code
  • Use effective listening skills: paraphrasing, repeating, asking for clarification, non-verbal cues are congruent with verbal statements
  • Learn the names of your athletes
  • Schedule periodic team/parent meetings with social activities
  • Use warm-up and warm-down sessions to discuss team plans or as a chance for athletes to ask questions

Assess athlete performance


  • Schedule periodic meetings with individual athletes to review their progress to personal and team goals
  • Encourage athletes to maintain a log or journal of their training, success indicators, and reactions to training and competition – review periodically for discussion in feedback sessions
  • Teach personal performance reflective techniques that assists athletes to conduct self-assessment after a performance
  • Build periodic physical and skill testing sessions into the training plan

Student-Centred Coaching Approach

Examples of Student-Centred Activities

Provide feedback

  • Use positive and constructive feedback to inspire performance and build confidence
  • Provide feedback periodically in practice and competition and outside the practice and competition locations
  • Set up group feedback and discussion sessions on progress made toward team goals – allow for adjustment to the stated goals

Guide athletes towards independence


  • Show athletes how to make decisions. Use a 6-step decision making process: list the facts, state the question/problem/issue, list the possible options and consequences, evaluate the options (pros and cons), select the best option for action, and implement the decision
  • Gradually allow athletes to lead portions of a practice: warm-up, warm-down
  • On special occasions, allow athletes to plan a practice
  • Ask athletes for input on modifying drills and training techniques
  • Solicit athletes to demonstrate effective skill performance
  • Set up an athlete peer support system – senior athletes matched with new athletes
  • Involve injured athletes in event planning, taking notes or video-tapping on athlete performances
  • Assign athletes responsibilities for setting up and maintaining a sport bulletin board or a section of the bulletin board
  • Challenge athletes using problem-based learning techniques: in tactical training situations ask athletes “what if ..?” questions. Apply the same approach to training technique or skills.