Maarten van Heeswijk: “It’s important that coaches develop more awareness of themselves”

Maarten van Heeswijk is one of the core professors of the Master in Coaching, who develops students’ awareness of their own coaching style

“There are multiple coaching programs in the Netherlands, but most of them are mainly focused on knowledge and technique, while the students of our Master in Coaching develop more awareness of themselves,” says Maarten van Heeswijk. Maarten has been involved with the Master in Coaching at Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam since 2010, where he is one of the four main professors of the program.

“During the program, we discuss subjects like ‘who are you?’ and ‘what motivates you?’. The students also work on the topics that are standing in their way, their weaknesses, and what role their environment plays in these. We mostly let the students work and experience things on their own. This happens with a personal coach, who guides the students outside the classes. These coaches are a big support for the students during their learning process. At the end of the academic year, not only have the students discovered their own coaching style, but they also know how to develop it.”

Maarten gained experience as a professional field hockey player. After his sports career and 25 years of experience in the business industry, he ended up in the business of coaching. Around 10 years ago, he founded his own coaching and consultancy agency, MaarHees Coaching & Consultancy.

“I agree with Johan Cruyff that you can only coach someone else if you can coach yourself. Coaching mainly means to me that you are aware of your own instruments. That is one of the starting points of our program,” Maarten says. “Besides that, coaching is about challenging and supporting others, helping them to trigger their own responsibilities.”

Maarten van Heeswijk - All coaches who know themselves well will be good coaches

Maarten’s vision about the art of coaching is catchy: “I am convinced that all coaches who know themselves – both their strong sides and their weaknesses – and who want to keep developing themselves and are open to criticism, not only will be good coaches but also good people, good parents, good partners and good leaders. They can make a difference in this increasingly individualistic world, because you can’t do it alone!”

The former field hockey player specializes in personal coaching and team coaching, both of which he applies during his classes to continuously challenge each student individually. “My style of coaching is mainly interrogative. During the program, I challenge the students to generate more awareness and to stimulate value-free work with your observation. When your awareness has grown, you can take more conscious decisions and take your own responsibility. That is the foundation of coaching to me! It might sound simple, but it’s not!”

Maarten would like to continue educating coaches via the Master in Coaching. “I want to remain in the role as it is now. I enjoy it and it satisfies me. I would like to guide more coaches, because it is incredible to see them grow as people, but also as coaches!”


In May 2017 Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam will start a new edition of the Master in Coaching (English edition). This 10 month program is based on the vision of Johan Cruyff in which sport coaching is more than using tactical and technical knowledge. It is about yourself, the players & staff, the team and the environment. We believe that you can only coach others if you know how to coach yourself. Visit the web page of the program and ask for our brochure!

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