What is Coaching? A List That Highlights What Makes a Successful Coach


A variety of factors and traits determine if an individual is a superb coach, somewhere in the middle or not very good at the profession. In this article, Wayne Goldsmith – who will be honored by the International Swimming Hall of Fame this weekend – examines some of the characteristics that define an individual as a high-quality coach. The piece is heavy on being a motivator and driving athletes to be the best they can be.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is the art of inspiring change through emotional connection.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is helping swimmers to dream – to dream larger than they’ve ever dreamed before – and to create the environment and the opportunity for those dreams to become reality.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is convincing swimmers that they can – and they will – achieve anything through a relentless commitment to hard work and through the uncompromising pursuit of excellence in everything they do.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is giving more than you ever thought possible – selflessly and completely – to help swimmers see more and be more than they could ever conceive imaginable.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is the rarest of professions. One where the more you give – the more you gain: one which gives you energy rather than taking it from you.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a life changing profession: one which changes the lives of coaches and the swimmers they work with.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a life-long commitment to learning, to discovery, to education and to personal development.

There are many people who call themselves coaches. The majority are merely “trainers” – people who write workouts, who yell slogans and who are obsessed with the “what” of exercise and fitness: with sets, with reps, with exercise prescription, with periodization and with programming.

Coaches are focused on the “how” and the “why”.

They understand that the “what” is limited – it is changeable – it is dependent on what’s in fashion, what’s popular, what’s on sale and what’s trendy. They know that if you stand for nothing – you’ll fall for anything – and there are plenty of people out there to try and sell you the latest and greatest tips and tricks.

Coaches never let training “heart rate” get in the way of coaching the “heart”.

Coaching is change. And coaches are the Masters of change.

Coaches understand that every great achievement starts with a wish – or a hope or a dream: these are the little fires that burn within the hearts of swimmers that ignite their passion and spark their motivation to achieve remarkable things.

But unless the swimmer is inspired to make the commitment to act – their potential remains nothing more than a wish or a hope or a dream.

Coaches inspire swimmers to “do” – to act – not just to think or to talk about what they’d like to do – but to make the change from living inside their head – to living in the real world where you don’t have to be great to start…but you have to START – to be great.

This is perhaps the greatest of all coaching gifts: the ability to inspire swimmers to change – and in doing so – unleashing that swimmer’s real potential.


Wayne Goldsmith


Wayne Goldsmith has been an influential figure in world swimming for more than 25 years.

He led Swimming Australia’s National sports science / sports medicine program for many years and has spoken at numerous national and international swimming conferences in the USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Japan, The Philippines, New Zealand and Australia.

He has written more than 500 articles on swimming, swimming coaching, swimming science, triathlon and swimming performance which have been published in books, magazines and online all over the world.

Wayne has been a staff writer for Swimming World for the past ten years.

Wayne lives, writes and coaches on the Gold Coast, Australia.

Click here to contact Wayne.

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Matt. Watson Jr.
6 years ago

I don’t use Twitter or FB ,because of my personal cause.My favorite social places forc ommunications are Spaces,Notcy and Kiwibox.I find these more interesting for too many reasons.

Fawn Liu
3 years ago

So true! My kids are very lucky to have wonderful coaches who have all the highlights this article mentioned.

Siegfried Cornegan
Siegfried Cornegan
1 year ago

Coaching is a great profession, a calling I say. Unfortunately, you have to many parents that think they know than you, will spend a lot of energy to push you around or out. Their swimmers follow suit and then your dream turns into a nightmare. Luckily you have those that see you, I mean really see you and respect what you are trying to do or accomplish regardless and those people are what give you hope to continue your passion.

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