This week’s Blog post comes from APA coach Paddy James. Paddy has been dropping into see us at APA for a few months now and formally joined the team in September having impressed at his interview.
As September draws to a close, I have been reflecting back over some key aspects of my coaching practice that have been tested during the past 30 days. Coaching is a very broad topic, with a number of key themes such as adaptability, decision making, being a leader and the ability to educate and influence your athletes being tested in every session. Each one of these topics has enough discussion points to write a book on, so I will be focusing this blog on the area of communication in sports coaching. Communication is essential for coaching success and therefore mastering this skill is hugely important. It is a large area to write about in a blog so to save you from reading War in Peace, I will start at the beginning and have a look at establishing aims and objectives for the session and communicating this to the athletes.
Setting aims and objectives for a session may sound like a basic principle, but ensuring that the athletes know and understand them can often be overlooked. Just spending a few minutes at the start of the session to outline what the theme is, and the key coaching points to be followed can have a positive effect on how smooth the session runs and also the engagement from the athlete. As well as identifying the aims, it is also important to relate the skill being coached to the game or performance. This will give the participants a clear understanding of not just what they are trying to achieve, but why!
Often in coaching, the skill is knowing what to say and what not to say. Allowing the athlete to discover the most efficient way to perform a skill can be far more powerful than the coach giving them all the answers. I have often heard that the best coaches say the least, but this is not to say they are not communicating with their athletes. Nonverbal communication includes observing how your message has been received. This again will link back to the athletes understanding of what they are doing and how it going to enhance their sporting performance. Usually if an athlete believes what they are doing is going to have a positive effect on their game, their effort and concentration will be greater. When coaching a group, this can encourage others to raise their game and, by creating some competition between them, can lead to the athletes striving to perform better.
Identifying the focus of the session, how it relates to the game, and making sure the athletes understand will help to create a positive motivational environment to train in. Creating this environment is an important part of coaching and getting the communication right from the start will make this possible. I will finish by recapping on the 4 points of communication posted a few weeks ago in another APA blog:
- Give them the message
- Check they heard it properly
- Check they understand why they are doing what they are doing
- Check they understand the consequences of doing it and not doing it
Paddy James, BSc (Hons), ASCC
Paddy also has a successful Personal Traning business in London. Contact Paddy here for more details.