Coachseek's Top 50 Influential Coaches for 2015

From thought leadership, to innovation and coaching excellence, this list brings the top coaching trailblazers. These hardworking guys and girls will keep you inspired, updated and motivated so you can keep moving forward and pushing matter what level you coach.

The Top 50 Influential Sports Coaches.

The definitive list of Coaches worth checking out in 2015.

1. Greg Glassman


Greg Glassman is one of the founders of CrossFit, the popular workout style that he started in his backyard, launched onto the internet, and is now closing in on 10,000 affiliates. A controversial figure, Glassman does things his own way, and it works. He is responsible for creating a $4 billion dollar brand. Affiliate owners pay an annual fee to CrossFit for the authorization to use the brand name and teaching methodologies. If you live in the US, you probably drive by several CrossFit boxes every day, concrete proof of the reach of this 11-year old company.

2. Will Hamilton, Adam Sieminski and Frank Salazaar


These guys are responsible for creating the memorable company, Fuzzy Yellow Balls. With over 50,000 followers on YouTube and 30,000 on Facebook a lot of coaches in the tennis community are talking about FYB. A company set up to provide tennis players a platform to learn, discuss and socialise with their informative videos on many aspects of tennis, FYB are really nailing the online coaching market.

3. Hojreh Bahram

Water Polo

Hojreh Bahram has been coaching water polo for over 20 years, developing athletes of all ages in Southern California. He founded an adult masters league, the WinterFest tournament, and water polo clubs and conferences. But his ambitions go beyond borders; Bahram has been instrumental in preparing Afghanistan’s first water polo team for Rio 2016. He is also working on bringing water polo to Egypt and other areas of the world that are underrepresented in the sport.

4. Missy Clark


Missy Clark grew up in the equitation business and is a second-generation stable owner. She has produced many winning riders and has mentored many of them to become professionals in the sport as well. Clark’s students have brought home prizes in grand prix, international team, and Olympic competitions. She is active in promoting her sport not only by training riders, but by also volunteering in leadership positions for USEF and USHJA committees.

5. Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn

Mixed Martial Arts

Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn run the Jackson-Winklejohn Gym, the top MMA training camp in the world. The facility has produced champions in mixed martial arts and UFC, thanks to the coaches’ philosophy that a fight is not a competition to be won but a problem to be solved. They emphasize the use of strategy and tactics to gain control over a fight. Winklejohn and Jackson have been featured in Sports Illustrated and many documentaries, radio shows and television programs.

6. Robin Barnes


Robin Barnes has made SKI Magazine’s Top 100 Instructors list not once, but twice. She has 26 years of coaching experience, a host of certifications, and a reputation for being able to pinpoint a small error that’s having a big impact on performance. Barnes is the director of the Portillo Ski School in Chile in the summers and a ski instructor and trainer at California’s Heavenly Ski Resort in winters.

7. Sean Foley


Sean Foley always planned to be a golf instructor. His ambition was to work with top talent, a goal he has achieved in a career of coaching professional players like Tiger Woods. Foley’s approach is to coach the individual, rather than apply a methodology. He is the head coach for the Canadian Junior Golf Association, teaches at Core Academy, and is part of RevolutionGolf, an online platform for all things golf.

8. Jim Thompson

Multiple Sports

Jim Thompson founded his non-profit organization, Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), to transform the culture of youth sports into a more positive character-building experience for players. Thompson has grown PCA into a network of more than 130 trainers across the US, delivering over 6000 workshops for coaches, athletes, and parents since 1998. Thompson plans to grow PCA to reach 20 million youth athletes by 2020. PCA is just one way Thompson is changing youth sports; he is also the author of 9 books on the topic.

9. Mike de Giorgio

Multiple Sports

Mike de Giorgio is using sports to change lives. He founded Greenhouse, a sports coaching program to give troubled teens a chance to do something positive. The original pilot tennis program has since merged with Table Tennis for Kids. Greenhouse then moved its operations directly into the neighborhoods of its students to give the teens more opportunities to participate. De Giorgio was awarded the BNP Paribas Prize for Individual Philanthropy in 2014, and today he continues to use all sports as a positive force in the lives of young people.

10. Ryan Ford


As a pioneer in a young sport, Ryan Ford learned parkour through trial and error. He has advanced parkour through popular strength and training videos on YouTube and multiple entrepreneurial efforts, including the founding of the first formal parkour classes in the Western world and APEX Movement, a group of professional parkour coaches, athletes, and performers. Ford has also developed a formal certification program for parkour coaches with the goal of making parkour accessible to everyone.

11. Judy Murray


Judy Murray is the founder of Tennis on the Road, an organization that brings tennis to children in Scotland. As the mother of two Wimbledon champions, Murray knows how to connect with children. She makes tennis accessible by using household items and toys to teach the agility, balance, and coordination skills that can later transfer to tennis. Murray is also the captain of the British Federation Cup team and a former player who won 64 titles in Scotland before turning professional.

12. Nigel Dennis

Sea Kayaking

Nigel Dennis is a force in the world of sea kayaking. He designs and builds some of the most popular boats and paddles in the sport, as well as being a regular instructor on the international symposium circuit and running private coaching sessions from his Holyhead facility. Dennis coaches high-level paddlers in big water; his style is to take a paddler to an environment that offers challenges at the top of the student’s level, offer the student the option to enter the zone, and then to appear out of nowhere if the student gets into trouble to give just the right correction that’s needed to save the day.

13. Nancy Emerson


Nancy Emerson, a former Hollywood stuntwoman and international surfing champion, has 35 years of teaching experience. Her vision to make surfing accessible to anyone, a goal she has furthered by the development of her ‘Learn to Surf in One Lesson’ technique. Emerson also works with competitive surfers to bring them to the next level, combining her critical eye for form with positive reinforcement and patience.

14. Mike Barrell


Mike Barrell has made significant contributions to the world of tennis. He is particularly influential in mini-tennis, specialising in combining sports principles with motor learning, skill acquisition, growth and development in children. Barrell has developed workshops, ebooks, manuals, training, and also works as a mentor and consultant. Currently, Barrell is the director of Evolve9, an organization that teaches coaches better methods for teaching tennis to children.

15. Albert Donovan


Albert Donovan has introduced over 500 disabled young people to the sport of canoeing in his career. Donovan has received many awards in recognition of his contributions, and is now focused on teaching other coaches to solve the problems of disabled paddlers. Donovan is a force in turning canoeing in the UK into an inclusive sport.

16. Mark Tennant


As the director of the largest coaching education provider in the UK, inspire2coach, Mark Tennant is well-known in the tennis world. He has delivered presentations at conferences in over 70 countries and has developed staff development programs and supporting material for tennis organizations around the world. Tennant’s goals for his business are to continue to develop inspire2coach, develop new programs and products to support coaches, and extend the reach of his business by working with new international partners.

17. Pavel Tsatsouline


A former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor, Pavel Tsatsouline is responsible for introducing the US to the kettlebell in his 1998 book, The Russian Kettlebell Challenge. Three years later, he wrote Enter the Kettlebell and a fitness trend was born. Tsatsouline showed athletes that they could get better results in their primary sport by including his techniques and his principles into their workouts. Today, kettlebells are found in every gym and in studios dedicated solely to their use as a fitness tool. Tsatsouline was key in developing the RKC™ kettlebell instructor course and continues to write books, produce videos, and run StrongFirst, his school of strength.

18. Eric Jackson

Freestyle Kayak

Eric Jackson is usually busy competing in freestyle kayak or running his company, Jackson Kayak, so most paddlers experience his coaching through his books, DVDs, or the occasional on-water workshop. Jackson breaks down moves into little chunks that are easy to do. His Rolling and Bracing DVD crosses kayaking disciplines and has helped sea kayakers as well as whitewater paddlers master a roll. Now in his 50’s, Jackson continues to compete in a highly physical sport where he has already earned four world championships.

19. Shaquannah Floyd and Laila Little

Double Dutch

Shaquannah Floyd and Laila Little had each competed in Double Dutch as children, but the sight of girls jumping rope on the streets had become rare in their neighborhood, replaced with gang violence and drug activity. To give girls something constructive to do in their urban neighborhood, they started the Floyd Little Double Dutch team. Their goal for FloydLittle is to give their players life skills, and each 3-hour practice starts with an hour devoted to homework. Team members must maintain a C average, but if they fall below, they are not kicked off; instead, they receive tutoring. Floyd and Little are two coaches who are making a real difference in children’s lives.

20. Kelly Starrett


Kelly Starrett founded one of the first CrossFit affiliates, but that’s not what he’s known for. Neither is he known for his strength training that has attracted athletes from the recreational to the Olympian level. Starrett is known for MobilityWOD, a web-based guide to resolving pain, preventing injury, and optimizing athletic performance. Anyone who’s tried to recover from a sports injury or move past a physical limitation has likely seen and used some the stretching and flexibility exercises Starett shares on his website and on YouTube. In person, Starett’s friendly approach and do-what-you-can encouragement make his rehab workshops accessible to professional ballerinas, military personnel, X-Games medalists, and athletes of every level from all sports.

21. Dave Kovar

Martial Arts

Dave Kovar is not only a martial artist with black belts in 10 martial arts, he is a businessman. Kovar runs 9 martial arts schools, has published over 100 teaching videos, and has developed Kovar Systems to help sports operators run their businesses more efficiently. Kovar employs a staff of technology and marketing professionals to develop products to help with student acquisition, student retention, and staff development. Kovar has also received the Martial Arts Industry Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and now is lead instructor for the organization.

22. Jen Schroeder


Jen Schroeder is the owner of Jen Schro Catching, a softball instructional facility in Southern California that attracts top coaching talent. Schroeder’s commitment to her students goes beyond home plate; Schroeder wants to inspire people to live better lives through sports. Her students connect with Schroeder’s enthusiasm and warmth, as well as her outstanding skills.

23. Dan McKim

Highland Games

Dan McKim has advanced from the #1 Amateur to a professional Highland Games athlete. He continues to be an active competitor while running an online training program and blogging to advance his sport. McKim’s blog is a mix of inspirational, technical, and practical advice for every level, while his online coaching consists of customized training programs, video analysis, phone conferences, and nutrition plans. McKim, the winner of multiple national and world championships, is also known for his appropriately-titled program, Behemoth, geared toward committed athletes who want to increase their power.

24. Dan Cenidoza


Strongman Dan Cenidoza is a former winner of MD Strongest Man. Today, he spends his morning leading kettlebell classes to an elderly population and his afternoons running his own gym. Cenidoza is a force in welcoming people of all types to strongman training. In addition to his regular strongman training programs, he runs training for women only, and many of the women who attend have become strongwoman competitors themselves. Cenidoza is a coach who has removed the intimidation factor from his sport and turned average people into dedicated lifters for life.

25. Gary Kirsten


Gary Kirsten completed a notable career in cricket before turning his attention to coaching, most notably steering the Indian national team to ODI World Cup glory in 2011. Today he runs an online cricket school as well as a cricket academy that delivers coaching programs for school, club, and amateur cricketers. Kirsten is focused on the elements of leadership and speaks to sports organizations and corporations on topics like how to build a winning culture, manage team dynamics, and unlock team potential. He takes a holistic approach to coaching, saying that he doesn’t focus on the components of what a coach should do, but on the potential of the athlete.

How we created this year’s list.

Not wanting to leave anyone out, we’ve searched the internet high and low, listened to your recommendations, and taken nominations, to find those truly outstanding individuals who are making a real impact on the sports coaching industry.

What we mean by “Influential Coaches”

In developing this list, we defined “influential coaches” as innovators in the sports coaching industry, who are inspiring the sports world, providing new ideas and an overall valuable contribution to their sport. They must have a deep understanding of their sport and coaching, with a proven track record of their contribution.

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