Sport Coach Mentoring

Research Goal

The Institute for Sport Coaching is conducting an ongoing research plan regarding mentoring programs for sport coaches in the United States.  This research is gathering best practices and lessons learned, and exploring how mentoring programs have impacted their coaches and moreover, the athletes. Your contributions will become part of a nationwide study to be presented at a future National Coaching Educators Conference and also available on the Institute’s website.

The goal of this research project is to provide best practices and lessons learned to help establish new sport coach mentoring programs.  Mentoring programs are key to retaining quality sport coaches as most youth coaches who remain coaches for numerous years found that being an assistant coach or having a mentor was vital to their longevity. The Institute plans to create a web-based resource providing the sport coach mentoring program material.

For more information on this research project, please contact Christopher Hickey, Executive Director, Institute for Sport Coaching, via or by phone 978-201-1024.


One effective means of keeping coaches involved in sport long-term is to develop a mentoring system. Mentoring today is best defined as a developmental, caring, sharing and helping relationship where one person invests time, know-how and effort in enhancing another person’s growth, knowledge and skills, and responds to critical needs in the life of the protégé in ways that prepare that individual for greater productivity or achievement in the future. In short, mentors help coaches to recognize and maximize learning opportunities.

Mentoring has become a larger part of how many organizations formally develop their members. Formal mentoring programs have been very effective at increasing employee retention and recruiting rates with 77% of companies with mentoring programs stated they were effective in increasing retention and more than 60% of college and graduate students listed mentoring as a criterion for selecting an employer after graduating.

While mentoring has been one of the oldest and most effective forms of human development, it has primarily existed on an informal basis with a limited impact. Formal mentoring programs aid individuals who do not have the luxury of supervisors who devote time or desire to mentor.  Formal mentoring can help spread the information necessary to plan, behave and succeed in a career path across boundaries of diverse groups.

Survey of Existing Sport Coach Mentoring Programs

As part of this research effort, we are conducting a survey of existing sport coach mentoring programs in the United States. The survey consists of the following questions.

  1. Why did you start your mentoring program?
  2. What processes or procedures work best for your mentoring program?
  3. What processes or procedures have been the hardest to implement or maintain in your mentoring program?
  4. How are the participants, both protégés and mentors, for your program identified?
  5. Do you provide any type of training for the protégés and mentors? If so, provide details.
  6. How are you measuring the success or effectiveness of your mentoring program? Retention rate? Recruiting of new coaches? Feedback from administrators, athletes, or parents? Pursuit of other professional development opportunities by the protégés?
  7. Please describe the biggest success of your mentoring program?
  8. Please describe your biggest challenge in starting and maintaining your mentoring program?
  9. If you were to start this program again, somewhere else, what lessons learned or best practices would you implement?
  10. Based upon your experience, is there any type of “assistance,” from an outside organization, that could have helped you when you started or planned your mentoring program?
  11. What questions should I have asked, but did not regarding the planning and implementation of a mentoring program for sport coaches?
  12. Would you be interested in sharing your mentoring program materials with the Institute to help create a resource center for other organizations starting mentoring programs for their coaches?

Please or mail your responses to: Institute for Sport Coaching, 5 Prospect St, Acton MA 01720.

Reference/Resource Material

Sport Coaching Specific

Crisfield, P., (2005), Analysing your coaching: the start of your journey towards coaching excellence. Leeds, UK: National Coaching Foundation.

This resource is available through Coachwise.  For every copy sold through this link, the Institute for Sport Coaching receives 5% of the sale at no additional cost to you

Evans, M., Lloyd, M., and Oldenhove, H., (2010), Mentor Training Manual.  Canberra, Australia: Australian Sports Commission.

Layton, R., (2005), Making Mentors.  Canberra, Australia:  Australian Sports Commission.

These resources are available through the Australian Sports Commission.

Nash, C. (2003). Development of a mentoring system within coaching practice. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 39-47. Click here to download a PDF version.

Galvin, B., (2005), A guide to mentoring sports coaches. Leeds, UK: National Coaching Foundation.

This resource is available through Coachwise. For every copy sold through this link, the Institute for Sport Coaching receives 5% of the sale at no additional cost to you.

Research in Youth Sports: Critical Issues Status, 2004, Center for Study of Youth Sports, MSU).  Click here to access.

Sport Coaching Mentoring Programs

The Academy for Sport Leadership is a Michigan non-profit corporation whose mission is to champion, educate, and attract young women to the coaching profession.

The Coaching Association of Canada has an online mentoring program for female coaches.

The Australian Sports Commission provides information to sports organizations wishing to start mentoring programs for their coaches.