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UK Coaching Team

What is Great Coaching?

The PEOPLE acronym spells out the answer – it is people that change people – and to leverage the full potential of participants, coaching should first and foremost be person-centred

The benefits of coaching go far beyond helping people become better athletes. Coaching positively and profoundly impacts on all aspects of people’s lives.

To help define what great coaching may look like, UK Coaching has devised its six key principles of great coaching.

Centred on the appropriate and easy-to-remember acronym PEOPLE – because coaching is all about people – these principles are:

P – Person centred
E – Empowering
O – Organised
P – Positive
L – Learning
E – Engaging

“As the lead organisation for coaching excellence it’s our vision to help create an active nation inspired through great coaching,” explains UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching Emma Atkins. “Through our Principles the general public now have a guide to understand what that is and what effect it can have on them and society at large.

“It is vital that we showcase how over 3 million people currently coaching in the UK – benefiting over 9 million people – are out there to support others through the medium of sport and physical activity. This is especially important during a time where we are seeing a range of societal issues, such as rising obesity; rising levels of mental health issues; and a growing epidemic of loneliness with both our young and elderly populations.

At the heart of all of this is the idea that people change people. Our Principles are centred on this word for that very reason. People change the lives of others. So if you want to make a change in your life go find a great coach who will help you be your best self."

UK Coaching consulted with over 500 individuals and Partner organisations and asked them what great coaching looked like to them, and how it made them feel. Their replies have been formulated into a series of statements that perfectly capture each of the six principles representing great coaching. They are included in the drop-down list below, along with videos of real coaches on the ground who are bringing the principles to life.

Great coaching makes me feel valued and better for being involved. My coach knows and understands me. I am included in the session.

Great coaching makes me feel a sense of belonging. I’m asked what I think about the session, my feedback counts and I leave feeling motivated, inspired to learn and develop myself further.

Great coaching means I am safe. When I ask, it’s logical as to why we are doing things in the session to meet my goals. My coach is well prepared, instructions are clear and I know what the outcomes will be.

Great coaching makes me feel excited, inspired and glad I came along. My coach is with me every step of the way. Conversations are motivating, and feedback is helpful. I’m praised for the efforts I make in an environment where I thrive and flourish.

Great coaching means that my coach understands me, and wants to help me get better. I feel confident that I am progressing and achieving my goals. I learn something new every time.

Great coaching means I feel involved and motivated. The sessions are creative, and get the best out of me. My coach adapts to meet my needs. I can’t wait to come back.

Coaching the Person in Front of You

Explore the principles of great coaching in more detail in our workshop, which examines why coaches must put participants’ feelings, thoughts, ambitions and motivations at the heart of everything they do

Further learning

Related Content

  • Coaching the Person in Front of You: The Key to Helping Your Participants Thrive

  • Principles of Great Coaching: Introduction

  • How to Make Activity Engaging


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UK Coaching Team