There are no Olympic medals for coaching: In this job, success is measured by much more than results.

“Without (my first coach) I would not have committed,” writes Olympic legend Clara Hughes about her provincial-level coach Peter Williamson. “The rest of my history in sport would never have happened.”

That history includes multiple medals in Summer and Winter Olympic sports and iconic status as one of Canada’s greatest athletes. Yet, we never saw any of Hughes’ coaches standing on a podium. Why? Because the commitment to influencing the journey is just as important as the commitment to performance results.

No matter how successful a coach is, they will never be seen on a podium. Not because they are less dedicated, and not because they don’t want to win, but because great coaching means helping athletes realize their full performance potential — whatever that may be. It means continuous striving to be great at what they do.

At the world-class level, it means world-class development. The Coaching Enhancement Program (CEP) is designed to do just that… It gives coaches the chance to coach themselves.


At its core, the program is a way for coaches to invest in themselves; a long-term commitment from Canada’s sport system to those who want to develop.

Olympic and Paralympic National Sport Federations will nominate coaches to be assessed for the opportunity to receive advanced support. To be eligible, coaches must be working with targeted athletes who are 0-8 years away from podium success, including Next Generation and Pathway coaches… AKA: those with authentic influence on the journeys of our best athletes.


Since launching earlier this year, more than 100 Olympic and Paralympic coaches have participated in assessment exercises, workshops and/or targeted professional development. And it’s making a difference.

“I am absolutely convinced that being in this program is helping me to become a better coach, leader, and communicator,” said Freestyle Skiing Halfpipe coach Trennon Paynter after his second workshop.

Canadian high-performance coaches have not seen this kind of coordinated partnership before in the pursuit of Olympic and Paralympic coaching excellence. In collaboration with the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own The Podium, Coaching Association of Canada and Sport Canada, the initiative is based on three core principles:

  • Assessment:
    Every coach completes a thorough assessment before accessing development programs.
  • Flexible, Customized Programming:
    There are several options for coaches who are motivated to develop. The CEP is fully accommodating to performance priorities, travel obligations and the nuances of coaching in our high-performance system.
  • Motivation, Trust and Expertise:
    Any participating coach must be motivated to learn for the program to be most effective, which is why each NSF is required to appraise the performance of their coaches separate from the CEP. This separation provides clarity and trust for coaches, resulting in improved commitment to the initiative and receive world-class support and development.

With these principles in place, the overall program is shaped to deliver on specific needs, broken down into seven components:


We understand it’s not easy to find the time and/or resources to engage in quality professional development — especially in the pressure-filled high-performance sport universe. But, you wouldn’t be reading this if you don’t love what you do.

That passion is everything when it comes to taking your coaching to the next level. It’s that intrinsic motivation to continue learning which can translate into better Canadian performances through the CEP.

And it doesn’t go unnoticed.


The influence a great coach has on athletes and communities across Canada can create tremendous legacy. It doesn’t happen on its own or in isolation. This kind of legacy is earned through hard work and commitment to continuously improving.

Stories like Clara Hughes and her first coach are just small snapshots of this fact. Often this kind of legacy is quiet, even unspoken — but no less felt.

During National Coaches Week, it will be celebrated.

September 22-30 is a dedicated to recognize (#ThanksCoach) how coaches effect positive change and influence lives in Canada. It’s an opportunity for all of us to recognize the integral role Coaches play.

Free NCCP online training courses will be offered during National Coaches Week!

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Taking the time to develop world-class coaching skills can re-define what a great performance means for Canadian athletes. This kind of influence is not something to take for granted and every Canadian Olympic Team carries a deep appreciation for it. So, on behalf of every teammate, in every sport, in every role: “Thanks, coach” for continuing to be great at what you do.



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