How to be at the top of your performance coaching game

At Notre Dame, we believe in the mantra ‘Know the Sport, Know the Athlete’ – a unique inter-disciplinary approach to enhancing both mental and physical performance.

Here are some top tips from our health sciences experts on how you can be the best leader you can be.

Understand how much influence you have

As a coach, people look up to you. You might well be one of the most influential people in an athlete's life, so it is important to appreciate your gravitas being a role model brings.

Associate Professor Fleur McIntyre has seen the effects of great coaching throughout her career.

“Good coaching and great leadership, particularly in more recent times, goes beyond the teaching of purely physical skills and attributes,” Professor McIntyre says, “coaches have the potential to play a pivotal role as mentors and role models for both individual and community development.”

Not only can you improve an athlete’s performance, but with a holistic approach to performance coaching, you can also encourage positivity, teamwork, resilience, a strong work ethic, respect and love for the game and community, skills that will benefit anyone’s future.

Successful coaches understand that the mental element is just as important as the physical, and that both need to be focused on.

Be prepared to move between roles

According to the Australian Sports Commission, a coach needs to be a teacher, mentor, psychologist, physiologist and confidant. Not only that, but coaches also need to bring skills such as diplomacy, negotiation, facilitation, organisation, problem-solving and motivation.

That’s quite the job description!

Know how to use the tools at your disposal

Notre Dame Lecturer Dr Chris Joyce believes that a coach’s ability to understand and implement the most appropriate technology in athlete training is vital to optimise the requirements of performance at different stages of competition. To do this, you have to know your tools.

“Often using technology in coaching can be confusing based on the vast amount of data that can be obtained. An ability to identify the most relevant data to your athletes can make the biggest improvement to their performance,” Dr Joyce says.

Work as a team

Notre Dame Lecturer, Dr Jenny Conlon sees the role of a coach and support team to be intertwined throughout an athlete's training and performance.

“While the health benefits of moderate exercise have been well documented, athlete physical preparation and competition may significantly increase the health risk to the individual. The coach and support team play a crucial role to risk-manage athlete health via injury prevention, athlete recovery and performance nutrition," Dr Conlon says.

Never stop learning

Your athletes aren’t the only ones who should keep learning. As a coach, there is always more to know about how to be a great leader and role model.

Notre Dame develops coaches who understand, manage and lead people comprehensively and ethically. We highlight the theory and methodological application of best practice holistic approaches to athlete development and performance.

Want to take your coaching to the next level? Find out more about Notre Dame's Graduate Certificate in Sport Coaching and Leadership.