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  • Norman Brook

Emotional Intelligence – Developing People not Players

Whether coaching sport for its own sake, or in order to achieve development outcomes, coaches should be preparing young people for sport and through sport for life. Developing not just the player but also the person.

Intentional design is at the heart of all coaching programmes aimed at developing performance and life skills outcomes. On the one side developing the physical, cognitive, technical and tactical skills required in the sport and on the other the values and behaviours we would like to see them display in both sporting and other contexts in life.

Life skills can be developed through sport and an insight into Emotional Intelligence can help inform coaches as to the personal and social skills young people might need to be successful on and off the sports field.

Dr Martyn Newman [1] has identified 10 skills that comprise emotional intelligence. I have organised these skills under myself – personal skills, myself and others – skills involved in relating to others, and myself and the wider world – skills related to operating in an increasingly global and connected world.


Self-Awareness – your capacity to understand you own emotions and stay in touch with your feelings. Self-Confidence – your ability to accept and respect yourself and essentially like the person you are. Self-Control – the capacity to control your emotions well and restrain your actions until you have time to think rationally. Self-Reliance – the power to be independent in planning and making important decisions and the ability to take responsibility for yourself. Self-Actualization – the source of your emotional energy and enables you to maintain an enthusiastic commitment to long-term goals.


Assertiveness – the ability to communicate your feelings, thoughts, and beliefs openly in a straightforward way. Empathy – the capacity to be aware of, understand and appreciate the feelings and thoughts of others. Relationship Skills – the knack for establishing and maintaining mutually satisfying relationships characterized by positive expectations.


Adaptability – your ability to react well to change and adjust your emotions, thoughts, and behaviours to changing situations and conditions. Optimism – your capacity to look on the brighter side of life and sense opportunities even in the face of adversity. Optimism determines your level of resilience and your ability to focus on the possibilities of what can be achieved.

Sports coaches should consider how they might help young people develop and use these skills on the sports field and how they might help them learn how to use these skills off the field. Developing emotional intelligence through sport will help prepare young people to be successful in life in general.

[1]  Emotional Capitalists: The New Leaders, Dr Martyn Newman, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, England, 2009.

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