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World Class Coaching Excellence

Leading Canadian athletes to the Olympic and Paralympic podium requires exceptional coaching.

The influence of a coach extends well beyond the field of play to interaction with athletes, staff and senior leadership – all of which ultimately play a role in the success of talented athletes. Clearly defining the qualities of a world-class coach is challenging given the different requirements across Olympic and Paralympic winter and summer sports. In addition, the fact that no two coaches lead in the same manner, but can each experience world-class success, makes the task of defining excellence even more difficult.

Although it is desirable to master all competencies, not all world-class coaches eventually develop highly effective skills within every competency. World-class coaches are, however, clearly aware of their existing competency gaps.

What is World Class Coaching Excellence?

These descriptions do not intend to define what World-Class is or isn’t, rather they clarify the meaning of each competency within the framework. This will allow all those involved in the Coaching Enhancement Program (CEP) to speak the same language with regard to the competencies.


The Essential Coaching Components

Given that sport requires athletes to acquire and develop a multitude of skills and concepts, coaches must master this essential component of coaching. Whether it be skill development, game strategy or leadership behavior, a world-class coach is required to create effective learning environments within and outside of their daily training and competitive environments. This includes adapting teaching delivery methods based on the learning style of athletes.

The ability to lead is at the essence of coaching. World-class coaches must be as effective in their ability to lead their athletes, peers and colleagues as they are with their ability to understand and deliver the technical and tactical aspect of their sport. Without the ability to effectively lead groups and individuals, the coach’s technical and tactical expertise may not have the desired impact given a breakdown in strategy, communication, or trust. This includes the ability to influence individuals and situations that are ultimately not under the control of the coach. Without the ability to manage up and out the coach will be compromised in their ability to build a successful program.

Core Competency Descriptors

World-Class Coaches strive for the following:
  • An understanding of all the technical requirements of the sport they lead.
  • Comprehension of when and where technical execution is required within their sport.
  • The ability to recognize technical gaps within the make-up of their athletes and how to go about improving their skills.
  • An understanding of how to effectively organize and position a team/individual athlete for success and how to manage the performance of their athletes in a competitive environment.
  • The uncompromising pursuit of effective strategies for a team or individual athlete based on their unique talents and skills.
  • An understanding of all tactical options available to their athletes and/or team in a given competitive situation. 
  • The ability to adjust plans and the delivery of these plans in pursuit of performance, with both short and long-term goals in mind.
  • The ability to establish core principles and lead based on these while recognizing how and when to revisit and consider making adjustments. 
  • The capacity to adapt to athletes, coaches, IST members and others in such a way that core program principles are followed while taking into consideration different perspectives and strategies. 
  • A proven ability to learn and acquire new coaching skills. Ultimately, a commitment to continuous improvement as a high performance coach.
  • A willingness to remain open to ideas and concepts in order to develop new skills and methodologies that will improve coaching effectiveness.
  • A commitment to work effectively with mentors/teachers/line-managers in the pursuit of improved coaching skills.
Communication Skills 
  • The ability to accurately and effectively transfer important information to athletes, coaches, IST members and others in a timely manner.
  • A commitment to clearly and effectively communicate during the most important and stressful moments for all involved.
  • To clearly establish communication patterns and, where possible, to adapt based on audience preference. 
Critical Thinking
  • The ability to actively and skillfully conceptualize, analyze and synthesize information gathered from the sporting environment and beyond, as a guide to belief and action, all with the intent to improve short and long-term performance.
  • A commitment to selectively identify the factors/variables that must be regularly assessed, while remaining aligned to core strategic plans, both from a micro (team, small group) and macro (organization) level.
  • The ability to think critically about their sport in an efficient manner. The coach should regularly be asking, “How can we/I be better?” 
  • The ability to envision and design a clear plan for success. This includes having an understanding of the direction their program/team is headed through both short and long-term cycles.
  • The ability to clearly articulate the vision in order to inspire others to commit and live the vision. This includes the ability to influence those who impact their program. 
Emotional Intelligence
  • The capacity to be aware of, control and express one's emotions when working with athletes, coaches, IST members and others. Ultimately, the ability to be self-aware on a consistent basis.
  • To guide thinking and behavior, so as to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments all in the name of achieving short and long-term performance goals.

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