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How much is too much when it comes to youth sport?

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How do I support an athlete with a variety of coaches?

We received the following question from Scott, a high school cricket coach, 

How should we approach athletes who have more than one coach? I coach a couple of high school teams and a representative team. And work solely with around 80% of the players, but a few of them have two or three other coaches, some private, some from different teams. And some of those coaches focus very, very heavily on just technique. 

So, what are some key things to consider when athletes have multiple coaches? 

There is no one answer to this question. Every athlete is different, so the first answer to this question is typically an ‘it depends’ type of answer. The second answer is that, in situations such as this, coaches need to understand the needs and wants of each athlete. Ultimately, every athlete is different and will have different needs, and different goals. Starting by having a conversation with your athlete to understand these things is really important. 

“So number one point. The needs of the athletes come first. As a coach, it’s my right and my responsibility to sit down and have conversations with my athlete around how they’re tracking.”

Andy Rogers

With that being said, some key things to consider… 

Variety 

Its important to acknowledge that an athlete can benefit from working with multiple coaches, as different coaches can offer a different perspectives and help the athlete learn in different ways. This diversity can help round out the athlete’s toolbox for solving different challenges in a sport and across sports.  

In saying that, ideally coaches communicate with each other so that athletes don’t receive mixed messages. 

Workload 

Coaches and parents need to consider workload considerations for athletes playing for multiple coaches/teams. This includes both in terms of the total athlete load, but also in terms of balance with non sport activities (school, family, friends, etc). 

Read: A practical guide for athlete load monitoring 

Mixed messages 

Sometimes, athletes can received mixed messages from different coaches about how to approach a challenge or problem in sport. As Vince Minjares in his Q&A on athlete decision making discusses, sometimes this can results in a  decision conflict or tension wihtin an athlete, that appears on the surface as poor decision making by the athlete. Here, the best way for coaches to support athletes, is to make sure they talk to each other (i.e. the other coach). Find out what other messages are your athletes being given by other coaches that might be influencing their thinking, technique, tactics etc. 

What are some things that coaches can do? 

Communicate with your athletes 

  • What other activities they do? 
  • Who else are they coached by? 
  • What does success look like to them? 

Communicate with other coaches 

  • Reach out to other coaches who share your athletes and have a quick discussion around their coaching, What are their coaching objectives and messages for your athlete? 
  • Be mindful of individuals’ workload and impact on wellbeing. If there are any flags on athletes over doing it, reach out to the other coaches they share and see if you can collectively address workload (e.g. by encouraging the athlete to take more rest) 

What are some things that parents can do? 

  • Inform coaches of the other activities, sports, teams and coaches that your child is involved with. 
  • If you child has a high workload, monitor for signs of overuse or burnout, and actively encourage coaches of your child to connect. 

Image Credit: Deposit Photos

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