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COVID-19 Edition, Sports Becoming an International Coach


By: Bill Sweetenham •  4 months ago •  

Here is my detailed outline for a developing 25-year-old coach/trainer in today’s world. This is what I would do at 25 in order to develop as a world level coach with ambitions at the global level.

1. Have a single minded purpose to succeed at this level. Don’t compromise your purpose or commitment for any reason or any person.

2. Complete a psychology course at university level. Place this above any leadership course. You either have leadership tendencies or you don’t. You can slightly enhance leadership, but only marginally. You have missed the boat. 3. Be visionary in all that you do and be an original – copies are never as good as an original, yet the coaching world is a photocopy. Avoid this at all cost.

4. Understand the difference between coaching and training. Many can train athletes, few can coach and even fewer can do both coaching and training. If you can address this, then you will be ahead of your opposition right from the start.

5. Learn to coach before you learn to train. Training is the physical aspect from head down and coaching is neural and sensory from the neck up.

6. Spend 12 months or more observing the very best operators in the world OUTSIDE of the field of endeavour.

Should you not be prepared to address ALL of the above, then my strong recommendation is to find a different career and do it immediately in order to save both your energy and/or waste athletic talent.


1 . Know the heart and mind of the athletes and staff you are working with. Work with people, never for people.

2. Committees never work so avoid this at all cost. Committees are made up of people who are not committed. They are involved without commitment, responsibility and accountability no matter what anyone says to the contrary. Work with a president, secretary and one other. Always three, same as female athlete principle, two will gang up on one. With female athletes, only ever coach in even numbers. But the opposite applies to Boards.

3. Have a complete understanding of the heart and mind of those you work with from athletes to support staff and employer(s). Surround yourself with good, right and best people. With support staff, employ people in preference to the position and select young ruthlessly ambitious people who have “tasted“ under-achievement and failure. They know and can appreciate the difference between this and winning. These people are driven.

4. Make use of the “misinformation” tool against your opposition! They are gullible and lazy. They will be motivated and driven by shortcuts and compromise! Assume nothing. As you can see with the timing of this information, I work 12 to 16 hour days so whilst I may not be the most gifted or talented trainer/coach in the world, I am difficult to beat simply because of time at task in advance of all opposition. Opportunity never gets past me.

5. Be innovative and run where others walk ALL of the time.

6. On the staff, have an association with a solicitor!!! You may need this in contractual employment and athlete management and staff related matters.

7. Be the very best man manager in the business. In today’s world trainers tell me that the athletes have a sense of entitlement and will not commit to do what is required. It is the coaches with their sense of entitlement and compromise who lead this weakness, not so the athletes.

8. Identify the individual weakness in your opposition and exploit that with ruthless execution of operation. Process is what great coaches do without ever having to focus on process. It’s automatic to them and how they operate and deliver. Remember the athlete and staff do not care about your past personal achievements until they know that you care and understand. Appreciate them personally.

9. Never stop education, development and learning. Avoid non-achievers and theorists.

10. Go to those who can teach you and be the very best learner and listener ahead of all in your field and every other field of winning performance. Learn to listen and teach before you can coach. Whether I am or not is irrelevant –more that I think I can be the best teacher of people! 11 . Look in the mirror frequently and honestly.

12. Know what you know and know what you don’t, but always know someone who does – and invest in them.

Swimming like most sport is about “mobility with resistance”. This drives every practise that I design and deliver. Specialisation, individualism and accuracy must be evident at each and every practise for the individual. I consider this to be MY winning point of difference. Unconditional belief that I do this and achieve this in advance of all others. I am good at this.

14. I can convert passion for the task into belief and with athlete and coaching focus we can create winning. More gold medals at ALL competitions ahead of silver and bronze medals. This has and always will be my personal conviction to excellence. I want all observing to be able to clearly identify Bill Sweetenham athletes because without knowing this fact, the athletes deliver in the face of adversity and obstruction superior well rehearsed mental and physical skills ahead of all others, not only in swimming but all sport.

They perform and deliver outcomes ahead of individual potential consistently and persistently in all situations. I want never to be in a building or redevelopment situation, I need to be in a delivery situation when it comes to outcomes ahead of team and individual potential.

15. Stand-out and current global coaches who can achieve this are Fred V, Jon R, Ben T, Michael B, Chris N, Dave McN and all coaches who have achieved winning global performances at three Olympics / World Long Course with at least three different athletes.

If I were a young 25-year-old coach with global ambition, I would seek these coaches out and learn and listen.

My focus would be to learn and listen and put in place a methodology and system to defeat them as soon as possible.

No restrictions, excuses or reasons for failure be acceptable.

Learn and listen outside of swimming but with the same purpose and attitude!

Bill Sweetenham has served as Head Coach of national swimming teams at 5 Olympic Games for 3 different countries, and has coached swimmers to success at 9 World Championships and 8 Commonwealth Games.

Under Bill’s management as National Performance Director of British Swimming, Britain’s swimmers won 18 World Championship titles, broke more than 200 domestic records and produced their best ever Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Olympic Games results. Bill is internationally recognised for his strategic planning capabilities in high performance sport.

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