Coaching: The Chameleons of Communication Essay

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The areas of communication in regards to coaching that I reviewed

were: praise and encouragement, punishment and criticism, motivation

and transmission vehicles of teaching and demonstration.

When praising and encouraging an individual, coaches have to be

more aware of the individual. Coaches deal with athletes on an

individual basis, therefore, the coach must know what makes athletes

behave in such a way as to accomplish the goals. A coach may be able

to use a certain pitch, tone, volume and/or non-verbal communication

with one athlete to obtain the desired results and have to approach

another athlete in a totally different manner to obtain the same

desired results. The most important aspect other than communication

is the timing of the praise, a coach must be aware of whose giving the

effort that constitutes praise and encouragement immediately, if the

coach does not then the praise will loose its effectiveness. A coach

also wants to praise in public as much as he/she can rather than

behind closed doors.

The same holds true when administering punishment, a coach must be

aware of the individual athlete, use the appropriate tone, pitch,

volume and/or non-verbal communication. Timing is very important in

delivering punishment as it is in giving praise. The important

difference between praise and punishment is that you praise in public

and punish in private. Coaches must be able to deal with each

individual within a group, as well as, the group itself.

Motivation is the most important aspect of communication to a

coach. Motivation is intangible: How do you measure an athletes

willingness and effort to his motivation? Coaches use motivators,

such as, praise, punishment, rewards etc… to motivate an athlete to

achieve a desired behavior. The coach must be able to communicate

effectively with the individuals as well as the team in order to

inspire them to achieve the results they want.

Coaches need to provide feedback to prevent the learners from

becoming disinterested or bored. Coaches have two forms of feedback

that they use, concurrent feedback supplied mainly from propioceptors

and external concurrent feedback, supplied in the form of verbal

communication. Coaches have a tremendous amount of “noise” to deal

with, noise being anything that is audio or visual that distracts the


Coaches use a number of transmission devises to instruct, both in

and out of the athletic arena. Transmission devises such as printed

words, graphics – words and action, recorded sounds – radio and

directions, the real objects which can be touched and the human

encounter are essential. Coaches have to use all of the above

transmitters to be the most effective he/she can possibly be when

communicating what he/she wants.

Demonstration is an important tool in any sport whether the coach

demonstrates a move, jump , etc… himself or uses other means of

transmitting the demonstration can make a difference. If the coach

personally demonstrates, the individuals he/she is doing the

demonstration for will perceive that demonstration differently than if

they see it on a screen or demonstrated by other players. Coaches in

their more experienced years must rely on their ability to verbally

communicate effectively.

Is there a difference between coaching and teaching? Some

educators feel that coaches have an advantage that they do not.

Coaches have a motivated and captive audience, they do not have the

problem of cheating and a coach and a player are on the same team

pursuing the same goal. What classroom educators do not realize is

that coaches have to bring the mind and the body of an athlete

together. A coach deals with athletes of different sizes, shapes and

colors on an individual basis in achieving the team objective.

Coaches are away from home much more than a classroom educator.

Coaches have to be able to communicate effectively with the school

administration, the public, the student body, parents, other coaches

and most importantly the athlete. Coaches are chameleons of


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