What Makes a Good Coach?

What makes a good coach? List the top five qualities of a good coach.

This question was recently posed to myself and other coaches listed below by my good friend and colleague, Chris Panayiotou from Virginia Rush.

Sam Snow – US Youth Soccer Coaching Director
Vince Ganzberg – US Soccer National Staff Instructor
Dr. Roy Patton – Director of Soccer Genius
Darran Bowles – English FA
Paul Shaw – VYSA Coach Education / US Soccer National Staff Instructor
Brett Jacobs – US Soccer National Staff Instructor / Former Colorado Rapids Coach
James Charette – US Soccer National Staff Instructor
Ken Martel – USA Hockey Technical Director US National Team Development Program
Tom Goodman – US Soccer National Staff Instructor
Tom Statham – Manchester United Academy Coach

With such an amazing wealth of knowledge among the coaches included in the email, I was eager to see the responses and also share mine. I’ve listed just some of the responses below, and included some of my own thoughts on what makes a good coach. Its clear from reading the responses that being a good coach isn’t a one size fits all model. It’s putting the pieces of the puzzle together knowing that the picture on the box will change.

Tom Statham – Manchester United

  1. Care about his or her players
  2. Be able to connect and communicate
  3. Treat people with respect
  4. Have a knowledge of the game
  5. Create an environment of enjoyment and learning

Tom Goodman – NEFC Technical Director / US Soccer National Staff Instructor

  1. Sense of humor
  2. Knowledgeable
  3. Ethical/Moral/Honest
  4. Encouraging
  5. Respectful

Chris Panayiotou – Virginia Rush Developmental Director of coaching

  1. Confident and confidence builder
  2. Observer and organizer
  3. Approachable, always learning
  4. Continually growing, competent
  5. Hard working, humble and honest

Vince Ganzberg added to the COACH pneumonic

O – other-centered
C – care, checks for understanding

A quality of any good coach is the ability to transfer knowledge into understanding

Darran Bowles – English FA Regional Manager

  1. Create and maintain an environment which encourages players to learn and love the game
  2. Care for their players
  3. Have a sound knowledge of the game
  4. Keep things clear and simple
  5. Treat everyone with respect

Dr. Roy Patton – Soccer Genius Director
For the coach of young adult players

  1. Maturity and experience
  2. Ability to build consensus – internal/external
  3. Ability to use jurisprudential argument and to be consistent
  4. High level of coaching experience and coaching ability
  5. Be an excellent and relentless recruiter

Sam Snow – US Youth Soccer Coaching Director
Good coaching and coaches U6-U10 “Open the door to a lifetime of soccer”

  • Lay the foundation of: Fair Play, Game Sense, Healthy Lifestyle, Skills
  • Guide players learning to interact with others: Teammates, Coach, Team Manager, Referees, Opponents, Spectators
  • Guide parents on their child’s soccer journey: How to be a guest at the game / Off the ball habits / Commitment / Punctuality / Responsibility / Nutrition:Hydration / Proper sleep and recovery
  • Coach must lead by example: Control Emotions / Verbal and Body Language / Sportsmanship

Steve Davis

“Coaching is…Breathing life into what you do. Taking the time to develop and assemble a way in which you can be authentic but still challenge yourself and your players. Good coaches make a difference in the lives of others, they know when a smile can be just as productive as words, they are the kind and caring individual who’s words of encouragement will will be heard years after they’ve been whispered. Good coaches take players on a journey to places they’ve never been on before. Good coaches keep players engaged, enthusiastic, and build confidence. They create treasured memories that will last a lifetime, they share their passion and experiences, but always continue to learn. They set standards, relate to others and their needs, they listen so they can understand their players, and good coaches handle pressure knowing experience and optimism will get them through. All coaches enjoy success, but good coaches know how to handle failure and learn from it, and more importantly find the teachable moments in it.

Trust and Integrity builds relationships and maintains team chemistry, and good coaches know that treating everyone equally is the beginning of making each experience fun, meaningful, and educational. They allow their players to take ownership of their individual and team development, and through the process of encouragement, accountability, and facilitation, players start to become teachers and mentors for themselves and their teammates. Good coaches know that teaching and instilling these qualities will help the young children they work with enhance their life skills along with their soccer skills, and there is no better reward for a coach than that.”


2 thoughts on “What Makes a Good Coach?

  1. Learn from the players you have been given the privilege of coaching and listen to them. Creative minds are not wrong, they just have a different way of looking at the picture others see.


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