Educator or Entertainer? Which Coach Are You?


As a National Quality & Training Director, my role is to ensure excellence at all touch points through coaching and teaching across the Premier Group. How do I know how to judge a coach who is strategic, inspirational and organised? How do I motivate them to drive behaviour change in all sessions they deliver? Let’s review my journey…

…I qualified as a football coach back in 1995 and I did that for two reasons. First and foremost, I loved football and was very fortunate to have the opportunities to grow up playing a range of different sports and with that my passion grew; from an early age I knew a job in sport was what I wanted.  Secondly, my love for education grew from my first involvement of inducting a group of new coaches within my first coach development role.  It was then when I started to learn the key facts of what it takes to become an effective coach!

Nothing gives me a bigger buzz than the work I do with young people and children and developing them as better athletes, at the same time as developing them better socially; ultimately resulting in them being able to lead a physically literate and active life and overall becoming better people in society.

Footy team

Within my role at Premier, I have the privileged position to be responsible for the development of thousands of Activity Professionals and Coaches, both nationally and internationally, ensuring they can become the best they can be.

A real inspiration throughout my career has been John Wooden. I learnt from John that: “the best competition I have, is against myself, to be better” which is all about development.  John also said, “never mistake activity for achievement”. It’s not just about running activities, it’s about the achievement – the best deliverers are undoubtedly the best planners.

With this in mind – great development doesn’t happen overnight. If we look at the 2018 Commonwealth Games as an example with Team GB and in particular our amazing Netballers and how they excelled and performed, that’s all because of a great plan that wasn’t just written last minute but was well thought out and designed and not just a great plan, but one that was then executed effectively with great detail and that won us all those medals!


If you are to have the maximum impact as an Activity Professional/Coach on all the different children and people you work with and ensure that you can best help participants engage in the activities that you do, then you will only achieve this through effective planning, then will you genuinely bring that mantra to life.

Common mistakes I see from Activity Professionals, coaches, and teachers and are quite consistent, a lot of them are down to the lack of investment in ‘Planning to be Excellent’ – these include:

  • Talking too much
  • Too much autocratic delivery
  • No learning focus
  • Text book delivery
  • Lack of accurate skill acquisition with participants
  • Little to no open-ended questioning
  • Lack of clear differentiation and inclusion activities

The result of this is rather than Activity Professionals, coaches and teachers being educators they simply become supervisors and entertainers – entertainers belong in a circus. As they’re not educating people to be the best version of themselves and this is mainly down to poor planning and not establishing what you want to achieve for the activities and sessions you deliver! Planning includes not only the session delivery and outcomes but should also stretch to include:

  • Behaviour management – how are you going to deal with misbehaving, unengaged or uninterested pupils?
  • What are the different behaviours of the participants in the lesson – how will this impact your session or lesson?
  • Range of physical and emotional needs of participants – what if the participants have a disability, or SEN, how are you going to adapt the session to be inclusive and beneficial for them too?
  • Engaging and progressive – how are you going to ensure pupils consistently perform and grow?


The definition of a coach is:

A coach is an expert in personal and professional development who asks questions to help the person find their own solution

So, when planning why not ensure you plan to do just that – next time you set out to plan your sessions and lessons, instead of just thinking about the different games and activities you will be delivering, instead focus exactly what you need to do to be effective – plan to be excellent and invest time to ensure you are driving your personal development and in turn creating good habits for your coaching and teaching practice to be an excellent and effective Activity Professional, coach or teacher.


(Netball photo from the Telegraph article)