The Coaching Development Pathway

I originally posted this five years ago. I think given the state of coaching today it is worth reprinting.

Frank Dick developed this coaching development pathway. It is a clear pathway, but more importantly it signifies it is a growth process. There is no set timeline; it occurs step-by-step based on mastery at each step the coach must earn their way through the pathway. Please note: the titles are from Frank Dick, the descriptors are my own.

Embryonic Coach – This is a coach who is just starting out, without even a remote idea of what is going on beyond the workout of the day. They are an open book, with very little or no knowledge, just enthusiasm and a desire to coach.

Apprentice Coach – This coach works with an established coach to learn the trade so to speak. Much of the learning at this stage is from others and their experiences. This is paying your dues. The apprentice coach is starting to have an idea of what they should know and how to go about learning it.

Emergent Coach – Now the coach is totally on their own with their fate is entirely in their hands. They now must be self-sufficient. They know what they know; their knowledge and experience are growing. At this stage do not know what they don’t know and what they don’t know probably does not limit them at this stage of development.

Breakthrough Coach – At this level the coach is coaching some athletes to performances that are outstanding at the level they are coaching on. Now they not only know what they know, they are acutely aware of what they don’t know and they realize that to improve they must work to close that gap.

Peak Performance Coach – They achieve consistent results at the top of the level they are coaching on. It is not necessary to coach world class or professional athletes to be a peak performance coach. At this level you start to become aware of what you know you don’t know, because it is limiting you and your athletes effectiveness. Learning continues to insure continual professional development.

Consultant Coach – In the later stages of a career the coach will serve as a consultant to other coaches. The coach is now good enough and secure enough in their knowledge that others seek them out. Clearly this is a veteran coach who has been there before and can set the standard. As part of the process of educating other coaches the coach should share they mistakes and failures as well as successes.

Sage Mentor Coach – This is the culmination of a coaching career. The coach at this stage has earned the right to guide and mentor other coach’s to help them along their career path. Others seek you out for guidance and advice. The picture is entirely clear. They are willing and able share experiences and knowledge.

Where are you on the coach development pathway? What are your goals as a coach? Where do you want to be? What is your plan to move on the coaching development pathway? I can’t think of anything more worthwhile and gratifying than guiding people to reach and exceed their limits. Coaching is special.

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