Communication is the art of successfully sharing meaningful information with people by means of an interchange of experience. Coaches wish to motivate the athletes they work with and to 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. This, however, requires the athlete to receive the information from the coach but also to understand and accept it.
In his article Crookes (1991) stated that coaches need to ask themselves:
At first, it may appear that face-to-face communication consists of taking it in turns to speak. While the coach is speaking, the athlete is expected to 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 in order to maintain a smooth flow of communication. Such behaviour 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. Glazed or downturned eyes indicate boredom or disinterest, as does fidgeting. Fully raised eyebrows signal disbelief and half raised indicate puzzlement. The posture of the group 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 should be sensitive to the signals being transmitted by the athletes. Their faces usually give a good indication of how they feel, and a good working knowledge of the meaning of non-verbal signals will prove invaluable to the coach.
Crookes (1991) believes that difficulties in communicating with an athlete may be due to a number of 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:
The effective communication contains six elements (Crookes 1991):
When coaches provide information to the athlete that will allow them to take actions to effect change, it is important that they provide the information in a positive manner. Look for something positive to say first and then provide the information that will allow the athlete to effect a change of 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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