Constraints Led Coaching

By definition, a constraint is a boundary which encourages the learner to emerge with certain behaviours. During constraints led coaching, the coach aims to create pressures for changes in movement to help encourage self exploration (Reilly & Williams, 2003). The idea of a constraints led perspective, is that the coach is to guide the participant to search, discover and exploit task solutions, whilst applying a more ‘hands off’ approach.

The participant is then challenged to find their own movement solutions to the problems faced or the goals needed to be achieved. The constraints that can be manipulated can be classified into three distinct categories:

  1. Performer
  2. Environment
  3. Task


(WordPress, Drowning in the Shallow (2016))

The coach needs to understand the participant and gathering knowledge of the individual, this is vital when the coach is developing a constraints based session, this is so that the session allows the participant to successfully participate within the session. Environmental constraints involve the weather and types of surfaces the sessions are conducted on. The tasks that are set within the session are ultimately the most influential. An example of putting constrains on the task are setting rules and the space the participant is given to work in. Another example is the time frame and different equipment that can be included. If the constraints are shaped appropriately around the profile of the participant it will help them improve.

The outcome of constrains led coaching always differs, as this type of coaching is more beneficial for long term effectiveness and development of a skill. Constrains led coaching allows the participants the freedom to find appropriate solutions, which dramatically increases their levels of autonomy (Chow, Davids, Button, & Renshaw, 2015).


Chow,  J. Y., Davids, K., Button, C., & Renshaw, I. (2015) Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition: An Introduction. Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

Reilly, T. A., & Williams, M. (2003) Science and Soccer. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

WordPress, Drowning in the Shallow (2016) What is a ‘Constrains Led Approach’ available at:


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