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A player-centred approach to coaching can enhance people and performance.
PADDY UPTON: Hello. I’m Paddy Upton, coach to international athletes and executive coach to business leaders and teams. And an average, but enthusiastic surfer. Welcome to this course on Player Centred Coaching. If you engaged in any of my other courses, it’s great to have you back. If you didn’t, if this is your first course you’ve enrolled in, I encourage you to have a look at the others. Either way, I’m pleased to see you’re keen to learn more about coaching and leading. In this course, I’ll contrast two different approaches to coaching– the longstanding and more common coach centred approach, with the alternative– a player or athlete centred approach.
As coaches or leaders, our role differs depending on the things like our motivations, our past experiences, beliefs, and understanding. Some coaches might focus, or be forced to focus, on winning, while others might focus more on growing well-rounded people. Some coaches are more technically inclined. Some might be very structured. Some are gut oriented and impulsive, others focus more on process than results. There’s no one right way, but depending on the situation and the particular athletes involved, there are ways to coach or lead that can be more effective than others.
The coach centred approach sees the coach providing all the direction, deciding what the players need to be doing in order to achieve the goals the coach feels is important, which is almost always winning at all costs. The player’s job in this environment is to memorise and obediently follow the coach’s instruction. In contrast, a player or athlete centred approach sees the coach focused on the player’s needs and goals, on collaborating with players on how to create the best possible experience for them to achieve these goals, which might include things like learning, improving, succeeding, autonomy, enjoyment, or whatever else the player’s reasons might be for participation.
Each of these two approaches are different, and have different impacts on the athletes and the team. Focusing on the more modern day athlete centred approach, we’ll explore how coaches can engage and collaborate with their players and teams on the thinking aspects of the game, specifically by helping them in reviewing past performances and planning for future performances. Welcome to the course. I look forward to your active engagement.
A player-centred approach to coaching can enhance people and performance.
Welcome to Player-centred Coaching where we introduce you to leadership frameworks that can be applied to grow people and performance in business, teaching or sport. In this course these frameworks are applied to sports coaching, however we encourage you to think about how they might apply to your own context.
We examine the differences between coach-centred and player-centred coaching approaches and apply these differences to the learning cycle introduced in the course Coaching in the Knowledge Era.
We focus in more depth on the review and plan phases of the learning cycle and examine the impact of both a coach- and player-centred approach on player development and performance. This course aims to address the big question: What are the impacts on growing people and enhancing performance of coach-centred and player-centred coaching?
You’re encouraged to share your thoughts with others in the comments, and we look forward to your active engagement in learning about player-centred coaching and the strategies you use to grow people and performance.
This course is the second in a series developed by Paddy Upton and Deakin University. The first course is Coaching in the Knowledge Era.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:
  • differentiate between coach-centred and player-centred coaching
  • explain the differences between the art and science of coaching
  • apply player-centred coaching principles to enhance player/team performance.
For an overview of all course activities and steps refer to the course map.

Meet the team

Your lead educator for this course is Paddy Upton. Paddy is an accomplished international cricket coach who brings a modern approach to coaching.
You’ll also be supported in conversations and discussions by mentor Dr Sharon Pittaway. Sharon is an experienced teacher and has worked closely with Paddy in the development of this course.
Select their names to find out more about each team member and follow them for course updates, feedback and discussions.


The frameworks I share in this course are ones I apply to my own practice, whether that’s with sports people or business leaders. They’re adaptations and blends of many frameworks drawn from the fields of education, leadership and business.
There are many frameworks that can be applied to helping others grow and develop – these are ones I’ve found to be successful in my own practice. Use and/or adapt them as you see fit, to your own context as appropriate.

Your task

To find out more about the key topics you’ll explore in Week 1 watch the video. You can also download and print a course map.
Take some time to introduce yourself, and tell us why you’re interested in this course and what you hope to learn.
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Player-centred Coaching

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