Communication is the art of successfully sharing meaningful information with people using an interchange of experiences. Coaches wish to motivate the athletes they work with and provide them with information that will allow them to train effectively and improve performance. Communication from the coach to the athlete will initiate appropriate actions. However, this requires the athlete to receive the information from the coach and understand and accept it.
In his article Crookes (1991) stated that coaches need to ask themselves:
At first, face-to-face communication may consist of taking turns to speak. While the coach is speaking, the athlete must listen and wait patiently until the coach finishes. On closer examination, it can be seen that people resort to a variety of verbal and non-verbal behaviour to maintain a smooth flow of communication. Such conduct includes head nods, smiles, frowns, bodily contact, eye movements, laughter, body posture, language and many other actions.
The facial expressions of athletes provide feedback to the coach. Their faces usually indicate how they feel, and excellent working knowledge of non-verbal signals' meaning will prove invaluable to the coach. Glazed or downturned eyes show boredom or disinterest, as does fidgeting. Fully raised eyebrows signal disbelief, and half raised indicate puzzlement. The group's posture provides a means by which their attitude to the coach may be judged and act as a pointer to their mood. Control of a group demands that a coach be sensitive to the transmitted athletes' signals.
Crookes (1991) believes that difficulties in communicating with an athlete may be due to several issues, including the following:
These blocks to communication work both ways, and coaches need to consider the process of communication carefully.
Crookes (1991) states that before communicating with an athlete, coaches should consider:
Effective communication contains six elements (Crookes 1991):
When coaches provide information to the athlete that will allow them to effect change, they must positively give the information. Look for something positive to say first and then provide the information to enable the athlete to change behaviour or action.
Crookes (1991) believes that coaches should:
Improved communication skills will enable both the athlete and coach to gain much more from their coaching relationship.
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