The C5 Coaching Method

I want to share my approach to sports coaching.

I have been privileged to “coach” people in some way for about 30 years – more than that actually.

Regardless of the time, let’s just say it’s been a lot of experience I’ve accumulated through the years.

For me, coaching is a calling so to speak.

My thoughts about how I coach have been reinforced recently by reading one of the best books I’ve ever read on the topic of coaching.

The method I’m sharing comes from my own experiences as an athlete, extensive study in the art and science of coaching and from personal conversations and interactions with elite-level sports performance coaches around the world (over the last 12 years).

You see, I’m a lifelong student who has a deep desire to get better as a person – and as a coach.

Coaching plays to my strength because I’m a voracious reader and learner – always have been.

I am also constantly self-assessing my own approach for what works – and what doesn’t.

With that understanding, here is how I think about coaching a sports team today, specifically as a high school girls varsity lacrosse coach.

This is the method I used this year and will continue to refine over time.

It comes down to 5 things that matter most.

These are my guiding principles and what I call “The C5 Coaching Method.”



When it comes to teams, culture is at the heart of success.

Many of the coaches I’ve learned from believe that you must start with culture.

But what exactly is team culture?

Culture is defined as the social norms, standards, or behaviors found in a team.

It is so important to me, I cannot overemphasize how critical it is to get this right.

If you have a toxic culture, you will not find long-term success on a team – and I don’t care what the win-loss record is.

As a coach, as a leader, you have to define what kind of culture you want to create?

For me it’s pretty simple.

  • Family
  • Teamwork
  • Transparency
  • Inclusiveness
  • Commitment¬†

These are some of the values I want to establish on our team.

It’s not going to be perfect.

And, of course, it’s easier said than done but there are ways to drive your culture as a coach, once you have buy-in from your players.

Culture is the starting point of the C5 coaching method.

I truly believe that culture will drive your success as a coach.


There are 2 parts to this:

  • OPEN communication
  • POSITIVE communication

I mentioned that communication as something I highly value when establishing the culture I want to create.

This is also simple.

Keep open communication between yourself and your team.

And encourage open communication between all members of the team.

If problems arise, you have to be able to talk about things.

You have to have transparency.

As soon as you recognize a problem on the team (they certainly do come up), you have to be proactive and discuss issues to resolve them as quickly as possible.

If you have a problem with a player, you should address it openly with them (as hard as it may be).

And the same goes with them – encourage your team to come to you and discuss if they have issues with how you coach.

I also believe in positive communication.

It’s way too easy to criticize and point out what athletes do wrong or need to improve on.

But what about what they are doing right?

Heavily praise effort.

Build confidence.

And don’t tear down athletes – especially in front of the team or families.

Screaming at players for what they do wrong in front of the team is not the way to develop athletes.

Think of you being yelled at by your boss in a meeting with your coworkers – imagine your boss screaming at you in front of your peers – “Nooooooooo, you’re doing that all wrong! What are you thinking? C’mon, you gotta do better than that!”

Again, positive communication.

Every word you say as a coach matters.

Every. Word. You. Say. As. A. Coach. Matters.


Connect with your athletes.

This can be one of the hardest things because you will naturally connect more with some athletes than others.

Connecting takes time and effort.

It means being proactive in talking with them.

But connection is vital if you want to be successful as a coach.

Take the time to find out more about your players.

Who are they as people on and off the field?

What motivates them?

Find common connections and make yourself approachable as a coach.

I’ve seen sometimes where players feel they don’t connect with their coaches at all.

It’s hard, I know.

But it feels like we can do better by connecting more with the individual players.

Not just some of them but all of them.


Care for your athletes.

No, I mean truly care about each and every athlete on your team.

Care about them as people who are trying to develop themselves through sports.

As I’ve said before, sports is about becoming a better person – on and off the field.

I read somewhere about treating every player like they were your own son or daughter.

If you connect and communicate with all of your athletes, you will care more about them as individuals.

Also, know what unique skill or thing they bring to the team and help them understand their role and be the very best they can be.

People don’t care how much you know until they know you care.


Are you a good teacher?

Frankly not everyone is.

We have to remember that great coaching is teaching.

Are you teaching new concepts and helping your athletes become better at their sport – and become people in life?

As one of my mentors taught me, coaching is a vehicle to get a person from one point to another. Literally.

Think about the meaning of that.

My favorite definition of coaching is this.

“In sports, a coach is a person involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or individual athlete.”

We must teach, that is a large part of what a coach does.

And, as the great coach John Wooden says, “you haven’t taught until they have learned.”

Here’s a quick summary of The C5 Coaching Method.

CULTURE – create a positive culture that your players want to be a part of

COMMUNICATION – encourage open communication & have positive communication your players

CONNECTION – make it a point to connect with each individual

CARE – care for every athlete on your team, not just some of them

COACHING – always teach something to your players (even if it’s a small insight)

This coaching method can be summarized in a sentence.

Bring people together, teach them, communicate with them, connect with them and make sure that everyone has each other’s back.

Coach Scott

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