The GROW Model

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The GROW model is a simple and effective coaching method that you can use with your athletes for setting and achieving their goals.

Popularised by Sir John Whitmore’s book, “Coaching for Performance” (1992), it is an acronym for Goal, Reality, Obstacles & Options, and Way Forward.

The Grow Model
The Grow Model


The goal is the end point, the ambition which the athlete wants to accomplish. As coach, it’s important for you to define this clearly so that the athlete will know when he or she has achieved it. Ensure the goal is both personal and meaningful to increase the commitment levels of the athlete, and remember to follow the SMART principle when setting it…


Examples of appropriate questions to ask include…

  • Where would you like to be by the end of pre-season?”
  • What do you want to achieve this year?”
  • When do you want to reach this goal?”


The reality is where the athlete currently is in relation to achieving their goal, and it’s essential that you seek precision and honesty from the athlete.

To do this, ask questions such as…

  • What do you need to improve?”
  • What is holding you back?”
  • What have you done about this so far?”

Obstacles & Options

The obstacles will be present in every situation, otherwise the athlete would already have achieved the goal. Therefore it’s important to understand what these obstacles are. 

Once identified, the options relate to what the athlete needs to do in order to overcome these obstacles. Try to be audacious here so that you don’t rule out any ‘unrealistic’ options at this stage. 

Suitable questions are…

  • What can you do to change the situation?”
  • What methods have you used previously in similar circumstances?”
  • Who may be able to help you?”

Way Forward

The way forward is the final segment of the model, and this is the action which the athlete will take to facilitate him or her reaching the goal. This is the barometer of success, and relates to volition, desire and intention.

Use questions like…

  • Which option do you choose?”
  • What support do you need and who from?”
  • What’s your criteria and measurements for success?”

To sum up

In summary, the GROW model provides a framework which raises an athlete’s awareness & understanding of…​

  • Their own aspirations.
  • Their current situation and beliefs.
  • The possibilities and resources open to them.
  • The actions they want to take to achieve their goals.

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