Professional Coaches and PMI Certification – Does that make sense?

Professional Coaches and PMI Certification – Does that make sense?

Professional Coaches and PMI Certification – Does that make sense?

Let’s recap from the previous article.

Tennis Coach’s / Project Manager’s view

In this table, we are going to take it up a level and look at what a coach will be looking for during a tennis match.

Project Management Process Groups Components of a Tennis Match

PMI Process Groups

Does that make sense?
Remember the table from the previous article? You can replace this with football, soccer, or hockey, but this seems very applicable to how Pete Carroll would approach each match, right? Now, I clearly don’t know Pete Carroll, but if I showed him this half of the table (see below), do you think he would agree? Trust me, I am no football expert, and I’m sure many of you could complete this table better than I can, but don’t lose the point of what I am saying here, PMI Process Groups match directly to most sports, and therefore, professional coaches should know them as well as any project manager does.

Football Coach’s / Project Manager’s view

Process Group and Football

Ok, let’s keep going!
What if we showed Pete Carroll the whole table (see below), and he saw the mapping between process groups and the components of a football match. He could see that when he’s analyzing tape from the other team, that it’s considered Planning. When he is changing plays, making player changes…etc. in the middle of the game that is Monitoring and Controlling. When he is giving his post-match interview, that is Closing.

Football Coach’s / Project Manager’s view

Football - Process Group

Do you think that Pete Carroll would be interested in learning more about Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing? I assure you he would because if he’s the least bit interested in improving his team and his process for winning, he will be constantly looking to learn and grow and would want every edge possible to win. Or better yet, what if we told him ten other professional football coaches had their PMPs? Would that peak his interest? When he sees the whole table and sees the mapping between the Process Groups and the components of a football match, he may think, I do want to understand better what monitoring and controlling means. Or what does the Closing phase mean? Now be clear, this is not rocket science, it’s just another way for sporting teams to get more structured and apply more rigor in how sports are coached, played, and how it aligns to the PMI Process groups.

Does that make sense? Good, I thought so.
Let me ask you this if Pete Carroll knew PMI Process groups better than any other football coach in the league, would he have an edge over them? What if the assistant coaches also got PMI certified and helped Pete understand and implement these process groups into how they coach, run drills, and execute the game, do you think that would help them be better? Win more games, apply more consistency? Of course, it would!

I love this… what about you? Let’s keep going.

What I’ve eluded to, but never covered in detail in my last article was the PMI Knowledge areas. These are covered in PMI’s “The Project Management Body of Knowledge PMBOK Guide®” and are an important component to know inside and out when running your projects. In most, if not all projects, these Knowledge areas come up time and time again and project managers must manage them to keep the projects on track. Well, it is my belief that they are needed in sports as well.
But how do these Knowledge areas relate to sports, and do they or is that a huge stretch and not possible? Well, let’s dive in and see.

PMI Knowledge Areas /Relevant in Sports? How is it relevant?

PMI Knowledge Areas

Well, that is interesting!

So, we see a clear mapping between sports and the PMI again. This time it is the PMI Knowledge areas. How cool is that? What if our professional coaches knew these ten knowledge areas inside and out? What if they used the Knowledge areas in their jobs every day? What if these same coaches started to plan and control these areas of their sport the same way project managers control them for their projects? Do you think they would have an edge on the coaches that don’t and have no idea what knowledge areas? Of course, they would!

Or maybe this is what’s happening, maybe professional coaches are already using with these knowledge areas and don’t realize it or call it the same way that a PMI project manager calls it on their projects. For example, do you think football coaches have to deal with air travel, hotels, injuries, player contracts, bad drills, bad plays, communications? Of course, they do, but I bet they don’t think of them in the same way as a project manager would. Do you? Think about it, if they did call them out and dealt with them separately and were proactive in managing each of those ten areas, they would be much more effective in their roles. I am sure professional sports teams have people to handle travel, player contracts…etc. but do you really think the coaches are not aware of what is happening across each of these areas? I don’t think so. If Russell Wilson does not get to a match on time because of his travel arrangements were missed up, I’m sure Pete Carroll would have an issue with that. Of course, he would, he wouldn’t want his star player to be late for a game!


Earlier in this article, we also mapped the PMI Process groups to the components of tennis and a football match. We saw that each sport has those same Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing components and we were clear that especially from a coach’s perspective these are very relevant.

So, the question is do professional sports coaches need a project management certification? Well, I don’t think so, but they could definitely benefit from it. If I owned a professional team, I would send my coaching staff to get this training and education right away. I understand how these coaches could already be tracking Knowledge areas and Process group in what they do today, but maybe with a little PMI training and education, they could be doing it much better! What coach would not want that edge over other coaches?

What do you think?

Oh… sorry I changed my mind…… Professional coaches do need their PMP’s. Remember to check out my other article on Project Management and Tennis located here. Tennis and Project Management – May the two worlds collide!

For fun, I would love for you to check out my wheelchair tennis article as well, I think you will like it. 

Bill Dow, PMP

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Bill Dow, a PMP-certified expert in Project Management Offices (PMOs), has co-authored books on the subject. With over 20 years of teaching experience and having built 10 PMOs across 4 companies, including 13 years at Microsoft, he currently serves as the PMO Director at the University of Washington Medical.

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