Coaching: The Chameleons of Communication

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.

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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