When it comes to evaluating a coach of any level the same credentials or consistently examined; qualifications, experience, achievements and philosophy. Although these categories are often well defined (all coaching badges are now standardized by governing bodies to ensure quality levels) we cannot and should not take them on face value. Similar to education, a coach may possess the qualification after learning how to pass the test rather than actually being able to understand and transfer the specific level of knowledge from the course back to their players. Alternatively, the qualification may not even require the coach to demonstrate their coaching ability, with the certification being awarded solely based on attendance to the course.

The experience of a coach should come under the same scrutiny. The coach may have years upon years of coaching experience but does duration alone determine the quality or even benefit of that experience. Possessing 10 years of experience may in reality mean that the coach has 1 years’ experience repeated 10 times! There are many ways to eradicate this potential problem, such as continuous reflection and goal setting. However, in this article I will be discussing the importance and benefit of mentoring.

The process of mentoring is based on the simplistic notion of empowerment, whereby older and more experience coaches automatically assume power over the mentee who awaits empowerment through the actions of the mentor. Mentoring can be defined as a complex, interactive process occurring between individuals of different levels of experience / expertise which takes place within a given environment.

In practice this allows coaches of all levels to gain feedback upon a variety of different elements of their coaching performance to allow development to take place. However, much depends on the ability of the mentor to facility learning in an effective manner rather than simply providing explicit feedback without engaging the mentee in the reflection process. Linking to the topic of reflection, mentors can help the mentees reflection process in terms of; evaluating their technical skills, examining their choice of methods in relation to teaching style and problem solving and questioning them, forcing the mentee to engage with an element of critical thinking. Coaching science researches indicates that effective mentoring should include;

Contrary to popular opinion, mentoring is not a one way process whereby the mentee is the only person who benefits. Participating in mentoring forces the mentor to critically appraise and reflect upon their own coaching styles and philosophy in order to effectively appraise and discuss topics with the mentee. Additionally, communities of practice (COP), a dimension of mentoring, ensures coaches, regardless of age or experience can profit from the process. COP breaks away from the historical perception of mentoring by enabling multi-directional learning with both the mentor and mentee participating to the communities’ knowledge base. A potential limitation of COP can stem from tradition and culture of coaching, whereby tension can arise through mentors perceiving a loss of power subsequently impacting the success of the mentoring process.

Zones of proximal development (ZPD), could potentially prevent this limitation with research suggesting that within ZPD, learning is optimised between coaches of different experiences by work together on a shared task. This allows the mentee coach to participate in the implementation of new skills which increases learning as individuals are able to attach meaning to the actions. ZPD links in well with COP where mentors and mentees share multi-directional learning, with each participant involved in some fashion, compared to traditional methods of mentoring where the mentee is either provided feedback after being observed or learns from watching the mentor.

Regardless of chosen style, to obtain the maximum learning from the process, the mentor must provide mentees with opportunities to relate information to their own individual coaching styles and philosophies, whilst facilitating learning in the most appropriate manner, as what and how information has been learned from the mentee is the crucial outcome.


Cameron Campbell



COLLEY, H., 2002. Mentoring for social inclusion: A critical approach to nurturing mentor relationships. Routledge.

GORDON, S.P. and BROBECK, S.R., 2010. Coaching the mentor: Facilitating reflection and change. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 18(4), pp. 427-447

JONES, R.L., 2006. The sports coach as educator: Reconceptualising sports coaching. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 1(4), pp. 405-412

JONES, R.L., HARRIS, R. and MILES, A., 2009. Mentoring in sports coaching: A review of the literature. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 14(3), pp. 267-284

MEGGINSON, D., 2006. Mentoring in action: a practical guide. Kogan Page Publishers.

WRIGHT, S.C. and SMITH, D.E., 2000. A case for formalized mentoring. Quest, 52(2), pp. 200-213


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