Importance of Profiling in Sport

Profiling bridges the gap between ‘good’ performances and ‘great’ ones

Over the past two decades, sport has become much more scientific. Our understanding of biomechanics, technique and technology has seen previous performance barriers broken time and time again.

While our advanced physiological and technical knowledge has produced huge advances and previously unattainable physical performances, there is a significant ‘knowledge gap’ developing in another area that is also critical to creating results. This is the Coaches’ and athletes’ emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is about understanding the role your personality and behavior play in your performance, and being able to analyze and deliberately adapt your behavior in order to improve your performance.

Emotional intelligence, or ‘mental talent’, is one of the least understood and most underemployed aspects of sport today. Athlete Assessments was founded to help coaches, athletes and sports professionals develop their ‘mental talent’, so that they may realize their full potential. This awareness is achieved through sports profiling.

What is Sports Profiling?

Sports profiling is the key to developing the self-awareness you need as a Coach, an athlete or sports professional, to develop your emotional intelligence and understand how your behavior and personality impacts on your performance and results. No matter what level you are, you can use sports profiling to take your performance to a new level.

Athlete Assessments has developed three unique, sports specific behavioral profiling products – AthleteDISC for athletes, CoachDISC for Coaches and Sports ManagerDISC for team managers, sports administrators and other sports professionals. These leading edge products are the only specific behavioral profiling products for athletes, Coaches and sports professionals available in the world today. You can read about the AthleteDISC, CoachDISC and Sports ManagerDISC as they apply to athletes, coaches, managers and sports consultants at the end of this page.

On this page, learn about:

Evolution of Coaching
Behavior and Results
The Role of the Coach
Traditional Coaching
Profiling for Coaches
DISC Profiling in Sport

The Evolution of Sport and Coaching

As sport has evolved it has become more technical and more demanding, but also more rewarding. With the support of well educated and well resourced Coaches, athletes regularly break through previous performance barriers. Good Coaches are expected to be experts in all technical aspects of their chosen sport. And athletes are also challenged to take more responsibility for their results.

But whilst we are better prepared physically than ever before, the ‘mental talent’ gap is still very wide.

How big is your ‘gap’?

Ask yourself this: how much of my training or coaching time is spent on developing a better understanding of myself, my personality and my behavior, and how that impacts on my results?
If you are asking, ‘What does it matter what my behavior or personality are?’ consider the following explanation.

Your Behavior and your Results

Your behavior creates your results. Behavioral theory states your behavior is a function of your personality within a given environment. Many athletes, Coaches and sports professionals do not have a good understanding of their behavior.

The danger of acting out of habit

Often people act out of habit. A habit is a well-rehearsed pattern of behavior. Behaving habitually is like operating on autopilot. Autopilot works well in certain situations, but not all situations. For example, what would happen if you operated on autopilot in an important competition where your well-rehearsed strategies were no longer working? To create a successful result in this situation, you would need to be aware of what behaviors you were currently doing and then be able to make changes or adjustments.

When we look at the most successful Coaches and athletes, one defining quality is their ability to produce winning results in all types of situations and environments.

We suggest if you want different results you need to be aware of and able to change your behavior. It makes sense then that if you do not know how you currently behave (understanding your ‘autopilot’), then you cannot make changes. No change in behavior will lead to no change in your results.

Profiling gives you self-awareness (behavioral awareness)


Profiling your behavior gives you information about yourself that you may not be consciously aware of. As you become more conscious of your behavioryou are more able to control it, thereby gaining more control over your results. ‘

The Role of Coaches in Sport

Coaches are at the very heart of sport, and their role is critical to how sport functions at all levels. The Australian Government recognizes the importance of Coaches in its 2008 paper ‘Australian Sport: emerging challenges, new directions’:

“The Government would also like to encourage greater recognition of the importance of Coaches … Recognition that Coaches are role models and mentors needs to be enhanced. It is often the case that a junior athlete’s commitment and enthusiasm for a sport is based almost entirely on the quality of their coach. In many ways Australia’s future sporting success is up to our Coaches and training officials.”

This sentiment is reiterated around the world: According to the American Football Coaches Association player survey, 90 percent of players stated, “The coaching staff was very important in determining which college to attend” (AFCA Study 2003).

In another example, 24-year-old, Curtis Ridell, who is trained by Glenn Mills (better known as Usain Bolt’s coach) describes Mills as a father figure to him:

“You have to believe in your Coach. My Coach is the backbone of my training. He gives me my game plan and guides me regarding what to and what not to do. He is a very important part of my life.”

Traditional Coaching and its Limitations

As a Coach, understanding your behavior has particular importance. A recent study of sports coaching, conducted by Empire Research Group, found traditional sports coaching methods had the potential to damage the chances of athlete success.

Traditional coaching is the type of coaching that focuses on the physical and technical aspect of sport. The relationship between the athlete and the Coach is not considered as an important aspect of sporting success. However, it is now widely accepted that communication and the relationship between Coach and athlete plays a critical role in performance and results.


A study published in the Sociology of Sport Journal (1993) interviewed high-level teenage athletes who had suffered from ‘burnout’. ‘Poor communication’ was the leading factor of burnout, which created a perceived low level of personal control over the situation in which they trained. Poor communication left them feeling stressed and unable to cope. Infographic_Relationships_White

 The 2007-2008 Barriers NCAA study found that 42% of the 9000 student athletes surveyed would not consider a future in college athletics because of the poor relationship with their college sports Coach or their Coach just prior to college. Most sporting programs suffer a large number of athletes who drop out altogether because of poor Coach-athlete relationships. Poor relationships are the result of Coaches and athletes not understanding themselves or each other.

In the survey of sports Coaches at the Evolution of the Athlete Conference (October 2008), the top three challenges for coaches were identified.

  1. 50% rated “Understanding individual athlete’s personality and how to best motivate them”
  2. 46% rated “Personal life balance – managing sport, career, home and social etc”
  3. 31% rated “Team/squad dynamics and managing relationships within the team/squad”

“No matter how much you know as a Coach, the info is only half of the story. Communicating effectively – getting your message across – is the key to getting the most out of your athletes. To be an effective Coach, you need to know your athletes well – which can be difficult and it can take time. You need to find out the best way to communicate with your athletes – what’s most likely to work and what will get the results we all want.” – Coach Gary Lynagh, Olympian and 3-time World Champion

Despite the above evidence (and there is plenty more like this from all corners of the sporting world) few resources are devoted to helping coaches become better communicators and to support better coach-athlete understanding.

In the past, Coaches haven’t been provided with the opportunity to further develop their communication skills and tangible ways to improve relationships with their athletes.

Most Coach training remains skills and technique focused. The problem with this is it leaves little time and energy to focus on critical issues including:

  • Understanding the individual athletes and team dynamics
  • Developing stronger relationships
  • Improving communication
  • Meeting needs and understanding limitations

The Importance of Profiling for Coaches

“Exceptional coaching relies on having the information to enable you to tailor your coaching style for each athlete and the benefit of the team” – Bo Hanson, four-time Olympian and founder of Athlete Assessments

All Coaches have a preferred way of coaching that either may or may not suit their athletes. If the Coach’s style does not suit the athlete, the relationship does not develop and the athlete is not coached in the way they most require. This leads to lesser performances from both Coach and athlete and eventually dissatisfaction. The athlete or the coach may leave the program or sport in time as frustration increases. You can read our article on the importance of the Coach-athlete relationship here.

‘The Best Coaches’

In the 2008 Evolution of the Athlete Conference survey, coaches were asked ‘What characterizes a phenomenal coach?’ The results showed how important the athlete Coach relationship is.

  1. 61% said phenomenal coaches focus not only on the technical and physical aspect of the athlete, but see the athlete as a ‘whole person’ with a life outside of the sporting environment.
  2. 55% of coaches also stated the importance of being able to teach and having strong communication skills.
  3. 33% suggested Coaches must always be looking for ways to improve themselves, their understanding and be innovative in their approach to creating better outcomes for their athletes.

How to become a phenomenal Coach

Becoming self-aware, by undertaking sports specific behavioral profiling, is the surest way for Coaches to develop a comprehensive understanding of both themselves and each of their athletes. Coaches become self-aware through learning about their own coaching style, communication style, strengths and limitations. When athletes also complete a behavioral profile, Coaches know with certainty their athletes’ individual personalities, motivators, preferred communication style, most effective training environments and much more.

Self-awareness is the cornerstone of success. With this knowledge Coaches are enabled to adapt their behaviors to become vastly more effective, with excellent communication and relationships with their athletes. From here, both Coach and athlete will start seeing improved performance, consistently. The door to realizing their true potential will be wide open.

“My Coach prepares me to be great. You can have all of the talent in the world, but underachieve because you don’t have that person to nurture your talent. You will never find a great athlete who coaches himself to greatness.”

– Michael Frater, member of the gold medal Jamaican 4x100m relay team,
talks about his coach Stephen Francis


Why use Profiling for Sports Professionals

Where so many other factors in sport are very similar, it is how well the ‘people side’ is managed that differentiates the mediocre and truly great. DISC profiling builds the self-awareness you need as a Coach, an athlete or sports professional, to take your performance to the next level, to get ahead and stay ahead. Use it to develop your emotional intelligence and understand how to consistently achieve your best results, as an individual and with others. Athlete Assessments’ DISC profiles use proven techniques, based on decades of behavioral research and are specifically for sport.

Athlete Assessments DISC Behavioral Profiling

Athlete Assessments’ DISC Profiles are specifically tailored to sport. Each assessment includes a 12 minute online survey and results in a personalized DISC Profile Report (with summaries for easy use). It details the individual’s personal style, strengths, limiting behaviors, communication preferences and the environment they perform best in.

For Athletes & Players – the AthleteDISC ProfileDISCathlete

Get practical strategies to coach athletes to their individual needs. Know the behaviors producing their best performances for greater consistency when it counts the most. Help your athletes build self-awareness to make improvements and take greater responsibility for their behavior, on and off “the field”. Find out more!

Click here to view the sample AthleteDISC Report

DISCcoachFor Coaches – the CoachDISC Profile

The distinguishing factor of great Coaches is their constant pursuit for the competitive edge, in their athletes and themselves. Coaches will better understand their coaching styles (and their fellow-Coaches’ and staff) to find new ways to further improve their coaching and communication with athletes and others. Their coaching results will only further improve, guaranteed! Find out more!

Click here to view the sample CoachDISC Report

DISCmanagerFor Sports Administrators & Professionals – the Sports ManagerDISC Profile

Provide your people with a comprehensive understanding of themselves and those they work with. It quickly improves communication, working relationships and ultimately results. Use with recruitment, as a foundation for professional development plans or part of a team building exercise. Find out more!

Click here to view the sample Sports ManagerDISC Report


To find out more about Athlete Assessments’ unique sports behavioral profiling tools please visit the information pages for Athletes, Coaches, Sports Managers & Administrators or Performance Consultants.

DISC for Coaches

Top Coaches constantly pursue the competitive edge.

DISC for Athletes

Consistently produce your best, when it matters the most.

DISC for Managers

Improve communication, working relationships and ultimately results.

Learn About DISC for Sports Teams

To enquire about Athlete Assessments’ full range of services, or how we can help meet your particular needs, please contact us.