We have linked below to some of the excellent articles and thought leadership posts by Mark Upton and the Sports Relations team.

Mark Upton’s (Sports Relations) most popular and thought-provoking posts:

Learning Vs Performance – Challenging Traditional Coaching

Off-Field Learning Spaces

How do you Learn the First Touch Skills of Iniesta – Context and Practice Design

About Sports Relations

Sports Relations is a coach education and development business, established in 2008 by Brad Vanderwert to enhance the effectiveness of coaches.

The name ‘Sports Relations’ is indicative of the values of the business, which are to build positive and effective relationships with coaches and athletes in all sports.

Sports Relations is all about sports coaching; the art and the science of coaching; being able to understand, conduct, practice, research, teach and educate on the domain of coaching.

Sports Relations primary service involves working with elite sports clubs and their individual coaches.

This service is known as the Individual Coach Enhancement Program (ICE-Program).

Sports Relations also collaborate with organisations to establish a coach development program which was designed to be run internally, with optional on-going involvement from Sports Relations.

Sports Relations utilises social media, blogs and newsletters to provide valued resources to the coaching community. 

Reflecting a cutting-edge approach to coach development, Sports Relations created an online video platform called the Coach Enhancement Platform (CEP). This tool is designed for coaches to self-reflect on their coaching and invite others (peers/mentors) to provide feedback and mentoring.


Director – Brad Vanderwert

Brad has a Masters of Sports Coaching (University of Queensland) and is currently working with coaches at the elite level in AFL clubs and Institutes of Sport nation wide (since 2008). Brad continues to conduct research at the University of Queensland in the Higher Research Department in the form of a Masters of Philosophy (MPhil).

As a part of his MPhil Brad is specifically focusing on Naturalistic Decision Making in terms of understanding, describing and explaining how coaches make decisions under pressure. 

Read Brad’s thesis for the University of Queensland – Explaining how an Australian Rules Football Coach makes Decisions in the Coaches’ Box on Match Day

Brad is currently Executive Officer for Hockey NT

Consultant – Mark Upton

Mark is an experienced coaching scientist, having spent 10 years working with coaches and players in the high performance environment of Australian Rules Football (AFL). He recently undertook a Masters project in Skill Acquisition and holds a High Performance (Level 3) coaching accreditation.

Mark works with coaches/teams/organisations seeking to enhance their coaching effectiveness through understanding and implementation of skill acquisition principles, learning environments, performance analysis processes and coaching technologies.

Mark is Coaching Science Manager of the English Institute of Sport and director of MyFastestMile

Related Articles:

Emotional Intelligence in Sports

The Evolution of Strength Training

Getting Exercise and Therapeutic Professionals in Sync

City Kids vs Country Kids: How Geographical Location Affects Fitness and Sports Performance

Relationships and References

Testimonial from Chris Fagan (now Brisbane Lions’ head coach) when working for Hawthorn FC:

Hawthorn FC reference

Reference from Peter Schwab, former Director of Coaching, AFL

Often in coaching we are never really sure how we are performing because we are
rarely given specific feedback or assistance in what is a very complex
and, at times, challenging role. It is also difficult for coaches to know where to seek advice and guidance with their coaching on a one on one basis.

Brad Vanderwert is a passionate coach educator who works with coaches to
help them “get the best” out of their players and “get the best” out of
themselves through effective communication and up to date methods.

Brad is focused on assisting coaches at all levels in how to educate and
instruct their athletes better by the manner and methods they use, the
environment they create for learning, and by using a range of
communication styles.

The group has an enviable reputation that attracted noteable clients, including AFL clubs Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Fremantle and the Northern Territory Institute of Sport.

Enhancing Coaching Effectiveness

Coach Education and Coach Development

Sports Relations provides coaches with valuable resources of case studies, stories and video feedback through its bespoke and individually designed ICE Progams (Individual Coach Enhancement) to improve coaching effectiveness.

Sports Relations works with coaches individually and as a coaching team to enhance the effectiveness of their coaching process, coaching practice and understanding of coaching pedagogy, through coach education and coach development.

A focus on the “HOW” of coaching, not the “WHAT”

  • How best to educate athletes
  • How to create the most effective coaching environment
  • How to best approach and use varying styles of communication
  • How to have the most effective coaching process
  • How to make correct and effective decisions under pressure

Sports Relations understands coach education in the modern era combining it with experience and knowledge as its foundations:


Services Provided

Sports Relations adopted the latest research findings, techniques and methodologies when offering the following services:

 1. Individual Coach Enhancement Program (ICE – Program)

a) Direct Feedback

b) Online Feedback via the Coach Enhancement Platform (CEP)

2. Coach Development Programs

3. Coaching Consultation

1. ICE – Program

The most effective way a coach develops is by conducting coaching practice. The more the coach can practice their art the more experience  they will gain and with time generate knowledge.

The Individual Coach Enhancement Program allows a coach to maximise the effectiveness of the learning opportunity by having a Sports Relations consultant enter into the coaches practice, record the coaching practice, teach the coach to reflect effectively, provide feedback on how they are coaching and educate the coach on the latest coach education practices.

Sports Relations offers this service in two formats:

DIrect Feedback & Online Feedback

Direct feedback is where a Sports Relations consultant enters into the coaching practice and conducts the process face to face

Online Feedback is where you the client upload your footage to the Coach Enhancement Platform and the Sports Relations consultant provides feedback via the CEP tool. 

The ICE Program delivers the following outcomes:

CREATES AWARENESS on the coaches current coaching practice

PROVIDES EDUCATIONAL TOOLS to the coach that they may not already possess

EDUCATES the coach on how to use the tools effectively to improve player performance

PROVIDES CONSULTATION for the coach to enhance player performance

Coach education research in the last five years states that coaches learn the most within their current coaching environment, unfortunately this is left to implicit and tacit learning.

Sports Relations ICEP maximises the learning  by entering into the coaches environment to deliberately and intentionally create awareness and enhance the coaches effectiveness.

2. Coach Development Programs

Sports Relations creates coach development programs for an organisation, club, institute or association that can be run:

  • Internally, by current and established staff
  • Externally, by a member of Sports Relations

Each program is designed specifically for the needs and wants of the client. Sports Relations goes through a professional and thorough process to understand the organisation as a whole and build relationships with those who are involved in the process. 

To read more about what previous clients have said about Sports Relations putting together a coach development program please see references below:

3. Coaching Consultation

Sports Relations consulting services specialise in the following areas;

  • Deciding on a new head coach or assistant coaches for the club moving forward. Sports Relations offers its services to boards and selection committees when choosing a new coach for their particular club or team.
    • Sports Relations offers an independent and professional point of view which is backed up by experience and the latest research findings

  • Reviewing the coaching department in terms of:
    • Structure
    • Roles
    • Effective coaching processes
    • Communication effectiveness between different departments

  • Improving player performance
    • Working with the coach to improve player performance by addressing the problem area and giving the coach additional tools to improve player performance.

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