UW Center for Leadership in Athletics

Ambitious Coaching™ Research Project

In 2016, the Center for Leadership in Athletics launched the Ambitious* Coaching Project, a research study designed to identify the knowledge and skills at the heart of effective coaching. The goal of the project was to identify specific coaching practices that support holistic wellness and social-emotional development of athletes while preparing them for age-appropriate performance and competition.

The study utilized a Delphi method to identify an initial set of coaching core practices, followed by a video capture of coaches who met a specific set of “ambitious” criteria. Videos were coded for high frequency, high leverage behaviors that occurred across different sports, ages, and competition levels. From this work, 15 Ambitious Coaching Core Practices emerged that help the CLA tell the story of how coaches can engage athletes in a fundamentally sound, intentional, and integrated approach to sport, designed to elicit both high levels of execution and personal growth and fulfillment.

Additional exploration of the Core Practices has spawned a range of activities guided by our deepening understanding of what makes an effective coach. These activities include curriculum development for coach training and workshops, foundational material for the ACCEL certificate, and the creation of online coaching resources, including the Core Practice Handbook.

If you have questions about the Ambitious Coaching Project, contact Dr. Julie McCleery: juliem4@uw.edu

*The use of the term “Ambitious” is an extension of work previously completed by researchers and teachers from the UW College of Education, who are engaged in a collaborative effort to identify the high leverage practices that are at the core of ambitious teaching. Ambitious teaching is the notion that students of all racial, ethnic, class, and gender categories can engage in intellectually rigorous, deep thinking about subjects and subject matter.

Ambitious Coaching™ Podcast

Whether you’re a part-time volunteer coach or coaching is your full-time profession, the Ambitious Coaching™ Podcast provides practical takeaways for coaches of all levels and all sports. The podcasts are derived from a series of interviews with experts in coach development, medicine, psychology, and more. Please take a listen, and join us in the journey to be Ambitious Coaches!