Why? Values Based Coaching.

The best coaches I have ever worked with have many things in common but something particular stands out. The understand why they coach.

When I work with players I am as clear as I possibly can be with them so that they understand why they are doing something in particular. Understand the why and the how will take care of itself.

As a coach clearly defined values and a purpose will guide you during your coaching journey,  your coaching career will be in a constant state of change and your coaching strategies will be continually having to adapt and change during the season – thats the nature of coaching. However, your values and purpose should remain relatively constant and drive you in your decisions.

Coaching from a values perspective rather than from the ego will ensure you make better decisions based on what is at the heart of your coaching, what drives you as an individual but for the benefit of the team.

As coaches we set the standard and knowing your core values and purpose is critical for not only building successful programmes and relationships with your players but in helping you establish your standards to which you attain yourself.

“It is foolish to expect a young man to follow your advice and to ignore your example.” 

Coaches gain credibility and build a culture of collective accountability when they demonstrate to their players that they will not sacrifice core values for short-term wins. (1).

I have been lucky enough to hear Brendan Rodgers present to our International Partners at Celtic FC on his CORE values acronym for young players, which has been adapted from British Cycling.

Commitment (to the plan)

Organisation (of the plan)

Responsibility (to carry out the plan)

Excellence (in everything you do).

But what do you stand for as a coach? What drives you? How high do you hold your standards and what do you demand of yourself and your players? Do you coach from a values perspective or from the ego perspective?

The following exercise (adapted from Peak Performance by Magness & Stulberg) will help you identify both your values and your purpose:

  1. Select Your Core Values

Your core values are your fundamental beliefs and guiding principles, what matter most to you and they help guide your actions and behaviours. From the list below (by no means exclusive and feel free to add more!) select 5 core values.

Achievement   Autonomy   Commitment    Community    Consistency   Courage  Creativity

Desire  Dedication  Education Efficiency   Enjoyment   Enthusiasm  Excellence   Expertise

Honesty  Health Independence  Inspiration  Integrity  Kindness   Leadership  Loyalty

Motivation  Observation   Optimism  Positivity  Pragmatism   Relationships

Responsibility  Security  Self-Control  Spirituality Tradition  Reliability   Reputation

Respect  Vitality

2. Personalise Your Core Values

For each value you selected, write a few sentences that ‘personalises’ that value to you & your coaching. For example for ‘Inspiration’ it could be: “Lead young players to become the best they can be in football and life”

3. Rank Your Core Values

Once personalised your core values it’s time to rank them with number one being the most important to you, your most deeply held value.

4. Write Your Purpose Statement

Now that you have selected your core values and reflected on them, it is time to write your purpose statement! The purpose statement should reflect your personalised values and be anything from 1-4 sentences.

For example:

“To lead and inspire the new generation of young players and help them discover how to be in peak condition mentally and physically to improve not only their game but in life too”

It’s a simple as that! 

In the words of distinguished championship basketball coach Don Meyer,

“Your program must have an overriding purpose which is clearly visible and which teaches lessons beyond winning



(1) Gilbert, Wade. Coaching Better Every Season: A Year-Round System for Athlete Development and Program Success (Kindle Locations 369-370). Human Kinetics. Kindle Edition.

Further Reading

Peak Performance (Stulberg & Magness)


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