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UK Coaching Team

Guide to Understanding Relationships

With this comprehensive guide on the Coach Learning Framework's ‘Relationships’ theme – jam-packed with practical tips, ideas, and the key points you'll need to start putting what you learn into practice – you'll explore the crucial pillars that comprise this theme and how they can help improve your coaching relationships

Relationships are the foundation of coaching and are built on trust and mutual respect. Developing and maintaining relationships is the key to success in coaching.

This guide – exclusive for UK Coaching Club Subscribers – will help you understand the key concepts behind understanding, developing and maintaining your coaching relationships, so that both you and the people you coach can achieve your potential and goals together.

  • Building positive relationships. Consider how you can express a genuine interest in each participant as a person. 
  • Connecting with participants. Explore strategies for building positive connections and developing trust with your participants.
  • Crucial conversations. Develop an approach to handling difficult conversations that prioritises positive action.
  • Building your networks. Consider how you can build a network that can support you to achieve your goals and maximise your potential.
  • Effective communication. Build your skills to become an effective communicator, including by considering the needs of each individual.
  • Interdisciplinary thinking. Learn how combining thinking from different disciplines can help you enhance your coaching practice.
  • Peer to peer relationships. Consider your role in cultivating an inclusive culture and encouraging a sense of belonging.

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people."

Theodore Roosevelt


Who are your key coaching relationships?


Coaching involves building positive relationships with a wide range of people who contribute to the success of your coaching practice.

While relationships are not a one-way street, it’s important to remember that coaches hold a position of great influence.

It is your responsibility to lead by example, reinforce good habits, and model positive behaviour.

This is essential in coaching all participants, and particularly when coaching youth sport.

Positive relationships combined with a holistic approach to coaching not only increase individual progress and development but also support the growth of participants as people.

Developing the coach-athlete relationship

The coach-athlete relationship is at the heart of coaching, playing a central role in ensuring both athletes' and coaches’ needs are being met.

Importantly, the quality of the coach-athlete relationship can determine both the effectiveness and success of your coaching.

In How to Build Stronger Relationships with Your Athletes, Professor of Psychology at Loughborough University Sophia Jowett highlights that a good quality coach-athlete relationship comprises of four key dimensions:

  • Closeness.
  • Commitment.
  • Complementarity.
  • Co-orientation.

A conscious and deliberate effort to invest in building good quality relationships and communicating competently can have long-lasting and cumulative effects on coaches’ and athletes’ performance and well-being, including their growth and development, personal success and satisfaction, as well as mental and physical health."

Professor Sophia Jowett

Use this guide, as well as the accompanying resources you’ll unlock by becoming a UK Coaching Club Subscriber, to learn how to develop and deepen your relationships to evolve your coaching.

To unlock this full resource, you need to become a UK Coaching Club Premium Member.

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UK Coaching Team