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Coaching styles

How we coach is, perhaps, as important as what we coach. We know that people learn in different ways and so one style of coaching may suit one type of learner but not others. So, it is best that a coach varies how they coach according to what and who they are coaching.

There are perhaps four main coaching styles and all need to be used according to the situation (remember how we say things is as important as what we say):

  • Tell (do as I say)
  • Sell (if you do what I say it will work)
  • Ask (how can we solve this issue together?)
  • Delegate (here is the problem, you need to solve it. I am here if you need me)

Coaches need to be able to use a range of styles and to select the most appropriate for the given participants, context and purpose. No one style is better or worse than the other. There is a time to tell, a time to watch and listen, a time to let participants do more thinking and take more responsibility. Each style will have its place, although some are likely to result in more lasting learning than others. You may demonstrate different styles during a single session.

The diagram above shows how what we say has only a 10% impact compared with 90% made by how we modulate our voice and how we move our body as we coach.

We know from extensive research that players learn most when they are involved in their learning.

When a coach uses a mixture of the 'ask' and 'delegate' styles of coaching, the players learn the most.

We call this style of coaching 'player centred' as opposed to the 'tell' style of coaching being a more 'coach centred' style of coaching.

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