UW Center for Leadership in Athletics

February 28, 2022

Introduction to Ambitious Coaching™

Introduction to Ambitious Coaching

Hey, coach! The CLA believes sport has the power to positively impact individuals, teams, and communities. Our goal is to support coaches like you who want to maximize the positive, educational impact of athletics.

This goal led us in developing the Ambitious Coaching™ model for coaching excellence, a model that centers each athlete’s holistic well-being, while simultaneously supporting them in reaching high level athletic performance. These live in harmony with one another, Ambitious Coaches live by two core principles: 


  • All athletes are valued and are capable of growth in both performance and behavior 
  • Approaches to training (technical, tactical, mental, and physiological) are developmentally appropriate, fundamentally sound, and culturally responsive


These principles are grounded in conversations about how our identities shape our coaching philosophies. A caring relationship between a coach and athlete is crucial in being an Ambitious Coach.

If you want to learn more about Ambitious Coaching, a great place to start is with the 15 Core Practices! The 15 Core Practices are specific tools and strategies coaches can use to elicit peak performance from athletes, while also facilitating the athlete’s social-emotional growth and well-being. Some of the AC Core Practices you are likely familiar with already, such as “Relationship Building”, and some might seem less obvious. We invite coaches to visit the full list of 15 Core Practices to see which you feel comfortable with, and which you might want to work on in your coaching. All coaches have core practices that feel more familiar to them than others! 


To see the full list of core practices, visit our coaching resources page, or read on if you want to learn more.


A few things the AC core practice are: 

All Ambitious Coaching Core Practices are teachable, observable, repeatable, and common. 


The Core Practices are:

  • A set of high leverage activities used by expert coaches
  • A common language for coaches and coach developers or a way to frame discussions about coaching
  • A pathway for practical application and mastery of the “act” or “art” of coaching

The Core Practices are not:

  • The only factor contributing to positive sport participation outcomes
  • A list of how to be a great coach
  • Stand-alone activities


Our philosophies at the CLA are grounded in the notion that coaches facilitate an athlete-centered approach to coaching through guided discovery, instead of simply prescribing and directing the steps in the player development process. Our intention as coach developers is to help coaches continue to grow professionally through innovation, collaboration, and critical reflection while maximizing positive sport participation outcomes for the athletes in their programs and communities.

Follow along in this series to learn more about the 15 Core Practices, and learn how you can become an Ambitious Coach!