By Brendon Elliott, PGA

Depending on where you may live, and how big of a market it may be, there could potentially be dozens upon dozens of options that exist for private and group sports coaching for your child in any given sport. The specific sport, and its popularity in your area, will have an influence on how many potential coaches there may be available for you to choose from. In areas where there are only a few options for coaching services, the process of selection may be a little bit easier, but make no mistake, going through that selection and vetting process should not be something taken lightly. It is of the upmost importance to be very selective on who you choose.

Sometimes it’s easy to find a great coach as many have excellent, long standing, positive reputations. Other times, it gets a little bit trickier. Many coaches make claims that are untrue, or only half-truths. These individuals bank on the fact that many parents don’t do their research to see if claims made are indeed truthful. Other coaches are great marketers but may be lacking the necessary substance that young athletes and parents need and deserve.

Often, parents and young athletes fall in love with what I call “shiny offerings” which many coaches showcase and lean on heavily. These may include incredible facilities or top of the line technology. Those things do indeed hold weight and should definitely be considered. However, in my mind, what’s of more critical importance are the personal and professional characteristics of the coach, such as possessing excellent communication skills, or having a proven track record of truly caring about their students.

Many times, some of the best coaches are ones that don’t have a lot of “frills” or “extras” or may even be at a less fancy facility. Those “shiny offerings” do indeed need to be considered but it is more important to find a coach with substance, and one that is a person of good character.

As a former colleague of mine used to say “That coach may have a lot of sizzle, but they definitely don’t have much steak”

In my area of experience and expertise, which is coaching golf, I feel it’s important to consider the following about a potential coach…

  1. Has a good reputation, both as a coach and person, as seen by fellow coaches.
  2. Has a good reputation, both as a coach and person, as seen by students and their parents.
  3. Has professional credentials such as being an Active PGA or LPGA member. With that, they spend time sharing their experiences with both the public and other professionals in hopes of growing the game at large.
  4. Holds certifications in the use of various technologies or other areas as it relates to coaching the game. This shows that ongoing personal and professional learning and development is important to them. This allows them to be a better coach to their students.
  5. Has a good network within the industry. With this, they can help students beyond what they are capable of themselves. They can refer students out to specialists in areas such as fitness and sports psychology for example.
  6. Has been honored by their peers in the industry through awards and has been looked at as an expert for an extended period of time. Not to say there are not great young coaches out there, with less pedigree, but many of those will be working under coaches with some recognition. There is a lot to be said about years of experience.
  7. Has a reputation as a good communicator.
  8. Remember that you get what you pay for…cheaper isn’t always better. In fact, many of the best coaches will be a little pricier. However, many will be willing to work with students and families that need assistance. They will always do their best to find a way.
  9. You should look for a coach that is a combination of both a caring individual and one that holds students accountable for their own successes.
  10. Has the ability to be adaptable and work with the individuality that each unique student comes to the table with.

No coach is going to be 100% perfect every day. Coaches are human after all. I wanted to share this with you however to make you aware of some of the things you should consider when selecting a coach for your child.

For those looking specifically for a golf coach, you can read more about my in-depth thoughts in my blog post from earlier this year…CLICK HERE for that