“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be” (Tom Landry). In order for athletes to achieve their highest goal, they need to have an effective coach who will help them become the best athlete they can be. An effective coach will be successful while working to achieve the goals they intended. A powerful coach takes their love for the sport and puts it into their athletes. Athletes will progress immensely from what they learn from their coach.
Coaching is such an influential position in an athlete’s life, so there are certain attributes and concepts they must know and employ to be successful. Coaches need to first build a positive relationship with their athletes. For example, 12 Olympic medalists said that a key point to becoming successful is having a meaningful relationship with one’s coach. They all said they have gained feelings of closeness, trust, and respect with their coaches. As a result of having a strong relationship with their coach, they have all received an Olympic medal.
The athletecoach relationship has an important role in the athlete’s development, both as a performer and as a person (Jowett). As a performer, having a positive relationship with your coach helps build self confidence immensely while performing. Trusting the coach and what they are teaching will have a more positive effect on performers than those who don’t trust their coach. Not only does a positive coach relationship help as a performer, but also as a person. Coaches can teach many important concepts about becoming an incredible athlete, but also an incredible person.
These 12 Olympic athletes who were interviewed in this article have developed into both amazing performers and individuals. They clearly understand the importance and the abundant effects gained when having a positive athlete-coach relationship. However, athletes don’t need to be Olympic medalists to know this. It should be clear that athletes will listen to their coach better when they have a solid, stable relationship with them and can trust them. A positive athlete-coach relationship is one of the very critical aspects of athletes becoming successful.
Another essential aspect of a successful team is commitment and communication. Jeanie Molyneux researched a team in Northeast England on how and why their team works so well together. Although there were many brief components to making this team successful, the two main themes that emerged from this study were: commitment of each athlete and communication within the team. Coaches need to inform their athletes of the commitment that is going to be required to be on a team. Before athletes join a team, they need to realize there are many things they need to be willing to sacrifice.
Athletes who fully commit themselves are willing to give up certain things that may seem important at the time, but aren’t as important as what they are trying to accomplish in the long term. Just as it is for athletes, the coach needs to be entirely committed to their team as well. Coaches who aren’t fully committed will not produce a successful team and will eventually just give up coaching. For example, approximately 35 percent of swim coaches discontinue their job because they say coaching is to consuming and demanding. Before coaches commit to their job, they need to consider everything necessary for coaching and fully commit themselves.
Sport organizations recognize that continuity of coaches is crucial to sustaining a successful team (Raedeke). Bringing forth a successful team requires both the athletes and the coaches to be fully committed. On the other side of commitment, communication will be a benefactor of producing a winning team as well. Today, one of the biggest challenges teams have is effective communication. Communication within functional teams must be examined, discussed, and taught in order for teams to succeed (Smart). Communication throughout the team is mandatory.
Not only do athletes need to be able to communicate with their teammates, but they need to be able to communicate with their coach as well. As a result, the team will progress to greater success. The coach needs to demonstrate communication and commitment, because these are both critical in a winning team. Along with recognizing communication and commitment, the coach needs to recognize the psychological effects along with the physical effects. The physical aspect of coaching is fairly obvious. A coach demonstrates to their athlete what they physically want to happen, and the athlete will try to fulfill it.
However, psychologically speaking, what coaches say to their athletes has an impact on them also. A few teams were examined, and it was found that athletes who played for coaches who recognized the psychological impact they have, reported lower levels of anxiety and higher levels of self-esteem. A player’s motivation will increase dramatically by how their coach is making them feel. Athletes are less likely to drop out of sports when they have a trained coach who understands they have a psychological effect on their athletes (Gearity).
Whatever is said to someone, whether valuable or harmful, will be remembered longer than something that is learned physically. Putting players down, telling them they aren’t good enough, or embarrassing them in front of their teammates will influence players to not perform well. Athletes are not going to want to continue learning from their coach if it is not a rewarding and positive experience. Successful coaches will realize that what they say will have a big effect on how they perform. A coach understanding psychological effects is another step to a successful team.
Along with understanding psychological effects, a coach needs to teach the team to work together. Teamwork is crucial for a team to succeed, and that should be directed by the coach. Teamwork is the effective and efficient combined effort of a group. Diane Coutu interviewed J. Richard Hackman about his viewpoint on team unity. Spending a career exploring the wisdom of teams, Hackman’s research shows that, most of the time, team members don’t agree on what they are suppose to be doing. He thinks the most essential thing teams lack is teamwork.
Hackman said that getting agreement in the team is the leader’s job and he or she must be willing to take great personal and professional risks to set a team’s direction (Coutu). Producing teamwork can be challenging. Encouraging a big group of people to get along and to work together is not always going to be simple. The coach needs to be willing to teach whatever is necessary for their team to grasp the idea of teamwork. Just like Hackman said, it is the coach’s responsibility to teach teammates how to get along and to work successfully together. Generating this is going to take effort from both the coach and the athletes.
The teams who were researched struggled to get along with each other, and consequently, that greatly affected their overall performance in a negative way. A team is never going to understand how to win if they don’t learn how to work together first. Being selfish and trying to win by oneself is self destructive. Sports are, most of the time, a group effort and can not be played by only one person. Efficacious teams have grasped the idea of teamwork, and that’s something that can be recognized in their overall performance. Exceptional teamwork will lead any team to success, and that should be directed by the coach.
Additionally to the coach demonstrating teamwork, demonstrating hands-on coaching works best and will affect the team’s overall performance. Hands-on means involving or offering an active participation. It is easier to learn what a coach is trying to portray when they actively show it to you and not just expect you to know what they are talking about. When coaches are actively involved while teaching their athletes what they need to know, it helps more than most would suspect. As an example, a few teams were researched, and the ones who were more successful than others were those with coaches who used hands-on coaching.
Findings show how leaders design their teams and the quality of their hands-on coaching influences team self-management, the quality of member relationships, and member satisfaction of being on the team (Wageman). The first thing hands-on coaching improves is self-management. Working with a team who will take responsibility of one’s own behavior will be easier than working with a team who won’t take personal blame for one’s actions. The second thing hands-on coaching improves is the quality of member relationships.
A team with positive relationships will be very beneficial when working to achieve success. Lastly, using hands-on coaching helps greatly with team members being satisfied with the team they are on. Working with athletes who are content with the team they are on will be more enjoyable than working with those who aren’t. Working with athletes who don’t enjoy being on the team could be aggravating. Coaching hands-on doesn’t really seem like it would be that big of a deal, but seen from this example, hands-on coaching works in many ways and will eventually lead the team to be successful.
Another attribute for successful coaching is for the coach to treat their athletes with the same respect and hold them all to equivalent standards. Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is known to be very successful because he holds all of his players accountable. Popovich once benched star player, Steve Kerr, at a game because his body language was terrible. He said he would have done the same for any of his other players. Popovich coaches with complete fairness to his athletes and teaches great discipline (Fayol).
Steve Kerr made some careless choices at one game, so, as a result, Popovich held him accountable for his actions, and sat him for the rest of the game. Being responsible for one’s own mistakes is something that needs to be learned to achieve success. It doesn’t matter if the athlete is the most outstanding player or the worst one, they need to be held to the same discipline. Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules, and when one breaks the rules, being accountable for oneself. The coach treating everyone on the team equally will only benefit the team to become superior.
No athlete is going to want to play for a coach who favors the best athletes. Athletes always have room to learn and improve their techniques. Equality throughout the team is valuable for athletes to actually appreciate their coach and the sport. The coach teaching discipline is another beneficial step to leading the team to success. Just like Tom Landry says, a coach can help athletes become the person they have always wanted to become. For athletes to eventually become successful it will take some time and effort, but coaches have a big role in helping athletes achieve their highest goal.
There are certain attributes and concepts athletes need to learn from their coaches to be successful. These attributes and concepts for coaches are having a positive athlete-coach relationship, demonstrating commitment and communication, understanding the psychological effects of coaching, producing a team who can work together, using hands-on coaching, and teaching discipline. These six attributes and concepts will greatly determine how successful a coach will be when helping their athletes achieve the highest goal they can.