7 Qualities that Make The Best Coaches – An Athlete’s Perspective

Justin Ma - September 4, 2020 - 0 comments

I’ve had the pleasure of training with different coaches from countries all around the world. I’ve experienced many different types of regimens, training philosophies, and personalities. Through this, I have come to learn what makes a good coach good – why some coaches can consistently produce champions, while others produce results far and few between. Any coach can stand before a group of students, yell out training plans, and supervise the students through them. The best coaches, however, have unique qualities that set them on another level. For coaches, set these as your goals and strive to attain them; for players, look carefully when deciding on a coach to invest your time and effort in. You shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than the best coach that’s available to you. Let’s jump right in and talk about each of these qualities.

1. The best coaches understand their students

Good coaches understand the unique characteristics and personalities of each of their students. My coaches know my physical and mental limitations – they know when they can keep pushing me to work harder versus what my actual limits are, so that I am always at my 100%. They also know how to treat me and my teammates differently. Some of us train better when we get positive encouragement after doing something well, while others of us need them to yell at us to keep working harder. My coaches also always understand how I am feeling; I may be coming to practice sore, hiding a minor injury, or dealing with lack of sleep. They know how to handle my practice on different days based on my physical and mental condition. In order to coach sports effectively, coaches need to know all the intricate and complex details of each student to be able to bring out their full potentials.

2. The best coaches can connect with their students

All the best sports coaches that I have trained with have found a way to connect with me. In a sense, they are someone I could count on as a friend; at the same time, they are still my coach and someone I follow and listen to. They know how to share their personal experiences in a way that I can understand and learn from. I can also talk about how I am feeling, different problems I am facing, and any questions that I have – they will always respond thoughtfully, finding an opportunity to teach me something while helping me. My coaches are not people I fear, but people that I respect. This can sometimes be one of the more over looked coach characteristics that really shouldn’t be.

3. The best coaches are prepared but flexible

One thing that all my coaches have in common is that they are prepared for every single coaching session (practice or tournaments). For practices, they always spend time outside of training preparing a plan for the day’s training – taking into account what every student needs to work on. They come up with unique and productive trainings based on a set schedule, so that we all know exactly what we are doing and how it is beneficial to each of us. At the same time, they are not so set in stone to the point where they cannot pivot from their original schedule. If a student has a last minute cancellation, someone gets injured, or something else happens during a training, they are always quickly able to come up with something new that still has value to every student. For tournaments, they always scout the next opponent as well as all the future opponents. They come up with pre-game strategies, find weaknesses, and are overall just ready to help their students face the battle ahead of them.

4. The best coaches never stop working

A good coach’s job does not end when training is finished. Instead, they spend every free moment of the rest of their days thinking about ways to improve their players. Like I mentioned in the previous point, they will spend time outside of practice preparing schedules that enhance a player’s strengths and improve their weaknesses. Aside from this, they should spend time learning from other top coaches on new training styles and methodologies. They should learn how to incorporate different styles of training into their own personal style. My coaches also spend time preparing extra training for me on days that I could not make it. They are creative with the things I have at home, and make sure I get a relatively good workout in even on my own. My coaches even go to the extent of video calling me on the days that I can’t make it, just to make sure that I understand the workout fully and that I can complete it.

5. The best coaches have experience

All good coaches have relevant experience that they can pass on to their students. This can be sport-specific knowledge, situation-specific, or just general life experiences. They use these experiences as teaching moments – bringing up students when they are feeling down or showing them how to improve and change. Without these unique experiences, all coaches would be bringing the same things to the table – they would not be bringing something special. At the same time, newer coaches may not have had the chance to learn as much as the experienced coaches have learned – make sure to give newer coaches a chance.

6. The best coaches are respected

Good coaches earn respect – they don’t ask for it. There are many ways that a coach can earn respect – be an accomplished athlete in the prime, have a successful coaching career by producing champions, or coaching with passion to name a few. The third is something that can be achieved by anyone. Coaching with passion shows players that you genuinely care about how they do and that you are putting all your efforts into helping them improve. In my experience, coaching with so much passion that it shows is something that fires up your students and keeps them on your side. This is how you earn respect. With respect, your students will be more likely to follow your plans and agree with your methodologies. They are less likely to challenge you, and instead, will trust you.

7. The best coaches have pride

All of the best coaches have pride. They care about their own image, as well as their students’ images. They train players to be champions, not people who lose in the first round of a tournament. By having pride, they put the same amount of energy into training their students as they would train themselves to be a champion. Without this sense of pride, there would be no goals – and without any goals, there would be no results. Coaches must take pride in their own coaching ability, and take pride in the results of their students.

The Takeaway

All the good coaches that I have trained with have shown these 7 qualities. Do your coaches or peers have any of these qualities? Are there any other qualities that you think a good coach needs? What are your experiences with your coaches? Let me know in the comments below! The importance of coaches is something that can sometimes be in the back of our minds when thinking of how to improve, but it really can make all the difference. If you want some more badminton and athletic related tips, tutorials, highlights, and more, please check out my YouTube channel! Thanks for reading and see you guys in the next one!

Justin Ma

I am passionate about helping people find joy in playing badminton, while also showing them how competitive the sport can be.

Justin Ma


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