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Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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4 Richard Bailey’s other commandments – how to coach

You now revisit the coaching commandments video to focus on Richard Bailey’s final three commandments.

Activity 5 Richard Bailey’s final three coaching commandments

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

You will now go back to think about Richard Bailey’s five coaching commandments. You may like to watch the video again.

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Richard Bailey’s five coaching commandments
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Identify the main point of each of the final three coaching commandments:

  • Praise and criticism should be used wisely.
  • The way you coach is as important as what you coach.
  • It is impossible to tell the future.


For his third commandment, Richard uses the analogy of praise and criticism being a bit like salt on a meal: used sparingly it can enhance the experience, but too much can ruin it. He suggests that there is a tendency for those coaching young people to use praise too much, which can damage self-esteem by harming the coach–athlete relationship.

In his fourth commandment, he is talking about encouraging creative, innovative athletes who are often unpredictable in their performances. For example, Lionel Messi was deemed too small to succeed in football but compensated by becoming an exceptional dribbler of the ball; or consider Michael Johnson who used an unorthodox upright running style. To encourage alternative approaches, he suggests coaches need to coach imaginatively and concentrate on the outcome of any techniques, not how it looks compared to the coaching manual. Fewer coaching robots: more flair, finesse and thinking outside the box.

Finally, in his fifth commandment, Richard considers the impossibility of predicting, especially in primary-aged school children, who might have sporting talent. His plea is for coaches and sporting organisations to keep as many young people engaged with positive sporting environments for as long as possible, out of which the best players will emerge. By keeping the selection open for more people, the net is cast wider, which benefits all.

All of these coaching commandments are supported by research. If you want to find out more about his final three coaching commandments, you can read the articles below. This is optional and not a requirement.