How we define the student-athlete experience

Through the eyes of the student-athlete, their coach builds a trust-based relationship, and provides a psychologically safe team environment that challenges each student — physically and mentally —  to create growth in their respective sport.

Understanding Student-Athletes

Through our research of more than 150,000 interactions between coaches and student-athletes, we have uncovered six coaching themes that are instrumental to improving the student-athlete experience.  Based on our definition, these themes help measure your programs for further development.


The Connection Theme captures how coaches interact personally with student-athletes in practices and games. Coaches who are strong in this theme seek to connect with each student-athlete in an individualized way that fosters respect, engagement and trust.

Psychological Safety

The Psychological Safety Theme offers insights into how effectively the coach has created a supportive and healthy student-athlete environment. These environments encourage student-athletes to be their authentic selves without fear of negative consequences for their mistakes, play, or opinions.


The Structure Theme gives a snapshot of the organization, consistency and predictability of a coach’s behavior. Coaches who are strong in this theme create a framework for their team that encourages individual-player goal setting, stability and accountability.

Skill Development

The Skill Development Theme measures the execution of instructional interactions between the student-athlete and the coach. Areas assessed center around a coach’s capacity to advance the competency and technique of student-athletes in order to help them perform to the best of their ability.


The Communication Theme measures the coach’s capacity to effectively share information, strategies and expectations with their student-athletes. This theme also measures how well coaches listen to their student-athletes, as well as their efficacy of using technology as a communication tool.


The Challenge Theme highlights the fostering of a growth environment where the coach pushes student-athletes beyond expected or previous levels of performance. This theme additionally reveals a coach’s capacity to shape an elite mindset.

How it helps

How a coach scores within these themes is provided in detailed easy-to-understand reports to ADs and coaches, which becomes the playbook for further improvement.  We call this our development process.


In the example above, this coach’s season-over-season growth is revealed in higher scores across the board, with significant improvements in each of the Six Themes.

Ready to help your coaches create a more positive Student-Athlete experience?