From Decision Maker to Decision Facilitator

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From Decision Maker to Decision Facilitator

Does Sport need Decision Making Coaches or Players?


Joey Peters

JOEY PETERS: Former Professional Footballer, now GPL Founder and Facilitator

It seems most people are still happy with the notion that a Coach’s Role is to make all the Decisions on how a Team is going to operate on and off the field. That they should provide all or at least the majority of answers of how to work effectively as a team.

But isn’t the very essence of a good TEAM as the acronym suggests, Together Everyone Achieves More? So how do we expect to develop Decision Making players and bring them together as a team of collective Decision Makers,  if we as Coaches, are making all the decisions and giving all the answers?


Let’s start with Off the field; There’s a lot to decide: How often should you train? What will happen in training? What does each player need? What does the team need?

How many Coaches would involve players and make those decisions together as a team, or should we by-pass the participants since we’re the ‘expert’ on those things?

Then there’s On-field matters to decide on. The formation, the line-up, the subs and any changes that are needed during the game. Again, do they make those calls themselves or invite a collaboration of ideas?

Fair enough, let’s get the Coach to make the final and immediate calls, but what about the actual decisions moment to moment in the game? You know, where the players are positioning themselves, what they do with and without the ball?  These decisions are still dominated by what the Coach has decided on how the team is going to play.

So should we as the Coach, impact on those decisions during a game? For if we start telling players where they should be in each and every moment, is that actually helping? Is it really helping them to read the game, the opposition and their own teammates? Wouldn’t it actually be stifling players learning and potential to make those decisions for them, not just as individuals but as a whole team?



Ultimately, the Coach is held accountable and responsible for the team, so it becomes their own decision how the team makes decisions. Do they become ‘the Boss’ and stamp their authority on the group to get everyone to conform to one-way of thinking or do they use it as an opportunity to Facilitate a team to work together and value each individual’s contribution?

How do you Coach? Are you a Decision Maker or Decision Facilitator?

Do you use your Power to Empower?


We need to take the hint by what’s in front of us Coaches. It’s a line. It’s the line that we can’t physically cross, we must stay off the field, for the game belongs to the players.

It’s where we can no longer decide what’s going to happen or how the team or the opposition is going to play. Because the players are the ones on the other side of that line.

Oh yes, there’s still plenty of Coaches who are intent on making decisions for players in the game “Press!” “Push-Up!” “Tuck in!” How often do we hear instructions from the bench and accept that ‘Yes, that’s what a Coach should be doing, they should be giving all the answers”.

But is all this Decision Making for the players and the team, really helping or hindering learning?

Surely it’s hindering.

Coaching For Learning Not Performing


Surely we as Coaches need to be providing as many experiences as possible for PLAYERS to make decisions? Not giving them OUR answers, but giving them the freedom and confidence to find their own.

Yes, that takes expertise in Facilitating an environment where the whole group can contribute and collaborate effectively. Perhaps that’s why many take the easier, quicker option of making all the calls themselves.  

But when we know that the benefits and potential of developing Decision Makers and a Decision Making Team, far outweighs a group of robots, I know which Coach I’d rather be. What about you?

So, just by making that one adjustment, going from Decision Maker to Decision Facilitator, or going from providing answers to providing questions, we enter a whole new realm of potential for teams and players, including the rarity of creativity, unpredictability, chemistry and connection as a team.

We also move towards higher levels of strategic adaptability within games. No need for the video session to study how a team has played in the past, these players are experienced at a working out problems and coming up with solutions, where and when it matters most, IN THE GAME.

So let’s change the perception of the Coaching role from Decision maker to Decision Facilitator. We might even starve off the grey hairs!  The pressure on a Coach to be front and centre, take control and set standards for their team doesn’t need to be there. 

Let’s take this pressure off through taking a Facilitator’s role.

What is a Facilitator?
    • ‘Someone who makes an action or process easier’ - Oxford definition
    • ‘Someone who helps to bring about an outcome (such as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision.’ - Merriam-Webster definition

Making the learning process easier unobtrusively? Now we’re Coaching!

The role then becomes more of a Designer of the environment. Observing, supporting and trusting the interactions and learning dynamics of the individuals and team.

We change from being expected to have all the answers, to asking questions, drawing out the potential of individuals and collaborating together.


The beauty of a Facilitative Approach is that it’s less stress on us as Leaders and more affording for Learners in confidence, challenge and connection with their peers and their game.

It is quite a challenge to evolve the old Boss method, that’s why I’m inviting you to a Facilitative way - THE GPL WAY!

GAME PLAY LEARN is a Facilitative Approach to Learning

I’m finding so much more ENJOYMENT and LEARNING for players, and less STRESS and PRESSURE on us as Coaches.

Best of all, we can be confident in putting the decisions where they need to be, with the players.

We can be proud that we are no longer the Decision Makers but Decision Facilitators.

Would you like explore more about the differences of Coaching Methods?


GPL Online Course

4 Comments on “From Decision Maker to Decision Facilitator”

  1. Love it Joey,

    Something I try to promote myself. I remember once sitting on the sideline next to a player discussing what his thoughts was on the game. The opposition had 4 coaches pacing up and down the sideline screaming commands. I’m sure at that point we were two goals in front. That was U10’s

    U8’s Sadly I see it all too often. Nearly every week I come across command style joystick coaches that take every decision away from the players.

    1. Thanks for sharing Dan and for being a great example of a Decision Facilitator! Yes, it seems the Commanders are still out in force, especially the younger the players are. I know it comes from a good intention to help and they are probably unaware of how they’re limiting the players learning and experience. Thus the need to keep sharing and demonstrating an alternative like you are. Hopefully in our lifetime we will see a shift towards Facilitating. Thanks again Dan!

  2. Thanks for your articles and communications. Its great to share the coaching journey.
    In a previous life as a command coach I thought I had to know and be able to transfer precise information and concepts to my players. It didn’t matter there stage of learning or their level of interest. It was a complete recipe for frustration which I hid as being over passionate. While some good players got through probably because my message matched their stage of learning I know I would have burnt many more.

    Fortunately for the last 20 years I’ve been a strong advocate for allowing kids to experiment with their skills and physicality and to make their own decisions within the context of the games I set up. I use questions to help them refine their choices and continually extend what they think they are capable of.

    Even though I’m now a qualified high performance coach my favorite lessons are still with the beginner players. Setting up the environment and watching them discover the game through their own decisions and choices gives me enormous pleasure.

    The best thing about becoming a game facilitator is the different relationship I have with my players. No more frustration as I recognise the learning will happen in their time. As a facilitator I actually get time to see all the great things that are happening in front of me. As an experienced coach I know if its not happening, I haven’t got the activities and starting rules right. What their learning isn’t prescribed by me but rather matches their stage of development so I say “Setup the game and rules, watch them play, encourage and question their practice, watch them learn”. Its makes coaching so rewarding and so much fun.

    1. Wow Patrick, thanks so much for sharing, I can certainly relate to everything you’ve said, unfortunately including being a Commander and letting players down in their experience due to my own expectations of what I thought they needed. Thank goodness for Game Play Learn!

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