Coaching is a challenging process of getting a group of individuals to come together and perform together in an attempt to achieve a shared vision. In order to understand how to best influence the athletes under the care of a coach, it is helpful to understand what preferences those athletes have and what leads to success.
Current leadership theory has focused on the idea of transformational leadership, which is highlighted by creating a vision, motivating others to work together to achieve the vision and supporting them to achieve it. This is in contrast to past leadership models that focus on a style that is more authoritative and ordering those to do what you want. In general, athletes prefer coaches that display transformational leadership behaviors.
As a part of this leadership style is the focus on developing a relationship with athletes. Fostering a supportive relationship that involves positive reinforcement, encouragement, support and individual consideration creates a bond between the coach and athlete that is important to the development of the athlete. This relationship leads to enhanced confidence in the athlete and trust toward the coach. Involved in this trust is the belief that the coach has in the athlete and the athlete’s belief in themself.
From a team standpoint, this individual relationship that the coach creates with the individual members of the teams results in improved team work. The concept of team confidence is collective efficacy, or the groups shared belief and confidence in their ability to perform a task. As the coach displays transformational leadership amongst the group with positive encouragement, taking advantage of coaching moments and developing the team as a whole, the team will respond positively.
The ability to create a relationship with the athlete is also a large component of the success of a strength and conditioning coach. Coaches that display strong technical knowledge and ability to instruct athletes, develop an interpersonal relationship and display higher leadership behaviors result in improved athlete preferences and performance.
Most research articles have focused on the preferences of the athlete and not on outcome measurements. So, based on that information, athletes prefer coaches that:
Hampson, R and Jowett, S. (2014). Effects of coach leadership and coach-athlete relationship in collective efficacy. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports; 24, 454-460.
Szedlak, C., et. al. (2015). Effective behaviors of strength and conditioning coaches as perceived by athletes. International Journal of Sport Science and Coaching; 10(5), 967-984.
Vella, S., et. al. (2013). The relationship between coach leadership, the coach-athlete relationship, team success, and the positive developmental experience of adolescent soccer players. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy; 18 (5), 549-561.
*Thank you to Deryk Artioli for his help with research
When I was doing my graduate degree in Sport Management, I wrote a paper for a Policy class that looked at what was effective leadership. I have been fascinated with organizational/team effectiveness and what sets the great ones apart from the mediocre ones. When I finished the class, I expanded on the paper and turned it into a white paper that examines the role of effective leadership on strategy. The research regarding leadership and the relationships surrounding them are intriguing. Even after reading the amount of studies that I did, I feel I only scratched the surface of the topic. Below is the white paper that looks at leadership in many forms and in many different circumstances.
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*This site is for educational purposes only, it is not meant to diagnose, treat or replace medical advice. Before starting an exercise program always make sure that you are healthy and able to do so safely.*