Quick Thoughts: 003 – Likability more important than good coaching?

I saw a twitter poll the other day that posed a question along the lines of: What is the most important metric / quality that a performance coach should poses that determines whether they should be rehired?

  1. Injury rate / availability
  2. Physical improvements
  3. Game data / metrics
  4. Likability (Coaches and Athletes)

I knew I should have taken a screen shot when I saw it because I could not believe the responses.

Likability was the #1 result

Reduction of injury / availability ranked #2.

#4 you ask? Physical improvements.


I don’t disagree that things like communication and likability are important, because they certainly are, but are they more important than the actual reason many performance coaches are hired in the first place?

The qualities listed above are not mutually exclusive as a performance coach can be good at physical development (with qualitative results), a good communicator, and liked all at the same time. But, if you take the being good at physical development part out, is that coach still a good coach… I’ll let you decide.

When did the profession move away from actually needing be good at physical development?

Rugby Strength Coach posted a similar question.

Great question, but unfortunately I don’t think many like the idea of being judged on the ability to create better athletes.

Another thought that was brought up is that winning is the most important thing. I don’t disagree. Winning is THE goal of every collegiate and professional team. But, we also need to keep in mind the subset of goals and the reason performance coaches are hired.

If all that is looked at is the ability to win, then we may be creating some heavy biases that fool us into believing the training plans are perfect when in reality they may be wasted time and energy for little return. Quantifying the ability of our own coaching and planning allows us to refine and change when things aren’t working.

And yes, even when a team is winning, training may not be “working”.

So what makes a good performance coach? 

A good performance coach is someone who can consistently produce physical improvements that are likely to show up or underpin specific in-game scenarios. It’s not that every athlete has to be improving at all times, but, if an entire year or two goes by, with nothing to show for a majority of the group, we have to question the efficacy of the plan.

I’ll leave with this thought.

Bad coaches on great teams stay on great teams. Great coaches on bad teams get fired before they can become a great team.

Published by John Grace

John is a performance coach, specializing in the development of speed, power, and strength, with experience coaching in professional soccer at the national and international level and in weightlifting at the junior, university, and senior national level and masters international level. Along with this professional and national level coaching, he has coached athlete's in a variety of semi-professional sports as well as Division I, II, and III athletics. With more than a decade of extensive coaching experience, he aims to provide an unparalleled training experience.

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