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Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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3 What does excellent child coaching look like?

Whatever the situation, whether at grassroots or elite sporting levels, if you are interested in sport, it is worthwhile knowing what excellent childhood coaching looks like.

Activity 3 The magic of a holistic tennis coach

Timing: Allow about 25 minutes

Justin Cahill is a qualified Physical Education teacher from the USA with over two decades of experience. Read his blog post 10 keys to unlock your coaching potential [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , based on watching a tennis coach (Coach Z) in action with his own children. What does Coach Z do that warrants him being described as ‘inspiring’ and ‘special’ by Cahill?


He seems to be special due to his holistic approach in trying to develop the whole person, not just the aspiring tennis player. He is teaching character (respect for societal rules, integrity and empathy for others), connection (positive bonds with people in sport), compassion and confidence whilst also providing challenges for the young people to rise to. The inspiring aspect is perhaps due to a magical combination of enthusiasm, knowledge and a caring approach. Perhaps if all coaches were able to be so effective, more children might maintain their zest for sport. This mirrors UK Coaching’s ‘C’ system.

The question of how this approach might also be applied to other sport is interesting. How can coaching young people for success avoid becoming too serious and maintain their youthful enthusiasm?