Friday, June 12, 2015

The Cost of Coach's Bad Communication

As athletes, we invest our soles and, according to researchers, on the average of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve excellence.  As high school coaches we trade time with our families and leave part of ourselves preparing our athletes.  As college coaches we pay our bills with the vocation, but our investments in the athletes begin to climb financially too.  As professional coaches, our organizational investment in our athletes is beyond belief.  This article very elegantly addresses how all of those investments can be vaporized with a single athlete/coach mis/mal-communication.  I've excerpted several portions of the article Coaching communication issues with elite female athletes: Two Norwegian case studies  Kristiansen  2012  Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.  This is an important read for any coach.

"An important aspect of the coach-elite athlete relationship is to produce enhanced performance and success in elite competitions."

"while communication may seem to be working well from the coach's perspective....athletes often disagree.  It is the perceived ineffective communication that may become a major source of strain for elite athletes."

"Coaching is more than is 'a set of strategies designed to increase a coach's ability to influence the behavior of others more effectively."

"A good coach must be able to see each athlete as a unique persona and adapt his/her performance enhancement system to each athlete's particular needs."

"Part of the demand placed on the athletes was the expectation that they would become '24-hour-athletes."  "They went from 'deliberate play' to 'deliberate practice' in one ..jump."

"It was all about 'you follow the routine or you are out of the team.'  They would not accept my views...I was labeled difficult and unwilling to work hard."

"finding the right training strategies is very demanding."

"A good coach is characterized by the understanding that "different athletes require different things from their coaches at different points in their careers."

"Having several coaches may negatively affect communication if the roles are unclear within the teams..."

"Different coaches did not seem to talk together about the total training load."

The athletes "perceived that they were the problem and not their interpretation of the training load to which they were assigned:  the more they asked, the less they were listened to and they then become difficult "problem athletes'"

"their experiences are not unique.  There is documented evidence that a lack of knowledge and awareness of risky strategies may be detrimental to the long-term development of athletes."

"It was quite clear...that they experienced demotivation when they perceived that they were failing to achieve the training load criteria of the coaches.  And when their performance also deteriorated, then this was even more demotivational.  In the motivational literature, it is recommended that for long-term development and persistence, athletes should have internal criteria of success."

"A mindful organization will notice novel events quickly, such as when an athlete is struggling with recovery.  NGBs should have routines that will lead to critical self-reflection, learning, and action.  In the sport context, the ability to differentiate between being tired and being in the early stages of burnout may be analyzed by these principles."

"The opposite of being mindful is being mindless.  The is a behavior characterized by being rule and routine governed and on autopilot.  Hence, to treat all athletes the same way may be considered a mindless behavior."