Coaching is a multi-disciplinary science, enabling the production of a strategy to enhance performance effectively by co-ordinating fundamental features. The coach is required to develop an athlete’s physical/technical/tactical skills. They should be able to enhance an individual’s psychological/theoretical knowledge/ of a particular sport. As suggested by Bompa(1994), the optimisation of these factors is important to an athlete’s readiness for competition. The coach should treat each individual athlete as unique and plan training accordingly. As confirmed by Russhall(1985), the ‘principle of training’ is one of seven principles of coaching. Additionally, Cross(1999), suggests individualisation is a vital component of the coaching process. The majority of coaches would consider individual athletes in their charge to be unique. Savage et al(1981) produced research data that highlighted all athletes are physiologically unique. As suggested by Rushell&Pike(1990);Cross(1999) they will have different physiological characteristics, psychological traits and social lifestyles.
The findings of McGowan et al(1990) concludes that some individualisation occurred in the training of the 1984 united states volleyball team, indicating once again the importance of identifying these traits in coaching. Therefore, coaches will obviously have to accommodate the differing needs of individual athletes, operating within a variety of environments and encountering constraints such as numerous athletes at any one time. Subsequently, these constraints may affect the overall efficacy of the coaching. As supported by Lyle(1997), each coaching process is unique for a number of reasons, an athlete’s differing aspirations, capabilities, personal circumstances, resources, organisational/occupational conditions within which the coach operates.
As a result of various coaching demands, coaches should be able to apply numerous strategies to deal with varying situations, applying relevant experience. This aspect has been studied by Cox & Noble(1989);Gould,Gianni,Krane&Hodge(1990), in order to obtain a clearer understanding of coaching demands, investigators have requested information from coaches about their attitudes towards coaching/adequacy of educational background/needs.
In general, the studies suggest coaches face changing demands and that their educational capabilities are not clearly defined. Further studies, as suggested by Gould,Hodge,Peterson&Gianni(1989);Weinberg,Grove&Jackson(1992), identified that mental strength, positive attitude, motivation and concentration were the most important attributes needing to be addressed by coaches in order to develop an individual athlete’s overall skills/success.
Coaching can be defined as a beneficial factor to improve competitive sports performance via a detailed planned programme of preparation/competition, Lyle (1999). This aspect, needs input from a variety of specialists in order to maintain effective coaching behaviour contributions, an athlete’s development may also need to be monitored. Dependent on the requirements of a particular sport, these areas may include technique/skill learning. Other factors to be considered are physiology, psychology, theoretical knowledge of a particular sport, lifestyle management to include time-management/tactics. Coaches will also be required to address the difference between the varying factors, which include the type of sport i.e. team/individual, age/gender, as some female athletes may be susceptible to certain traits such as eating disorders. There are other relevant principles for the coach to consider, some of which may be in depth. These include issues such as law, ethics, mentoring techniques, communication, detraining, injuries/overtraining and environmental safety in which the athletes perform. As suggested by Sherman& Sands(1996), the principle consequence requests coaches to deliberate the potential findings, for example injury, may occur following immense training programmes.
Smith,Smoll&Hunt(1977) utilised The Coaching Behaviour Assessment (CBAS) to undertake studies to examine the impact a coach’s influence may have psychologically on youngsters through sport. Subsequently, studies using this technique or an adapted version do according to Allen&Howe(1998);Black&Weiss (1992) illustrates coaching behaviours do have significant influence on an athlete’s psychological profile. They clearly affect self-esteem, capabilities and overall fulfilment. In relation to data obtained for the CBAS, Smoll&Smith(1984;1989), a proposed model to study coaching behaviours in youth sport was developed.
The model actually specifies in addition to the individual coach, athlete/environment that coach behaviour is influenced by player perception/recall and the ability of the coach to evaluate reactions. Furthermore, observations of a player’s attitude/mood state is particularly important.
Subsequently, leadership style is an important factor as it enhances an individual athlete’s confidence and creates a quality social environment in which to learn. If a coach is able to provide effective social support for an athlete it illustrates that there is a good understanding of resources available to assist with various demands in competitive sport. If handled correctly these problems can be addressed through team building/education. Consequently, coaches will need to be flexible in order to influence an athlete’s perception of control. If for example, a coach adopts a collaborative style and uses it effectively, one would be able to develop confidence to achieve shared goals, helping to provide contingent reinforcement and informative feedback.
The introduction of the Multidimensional Model of Leadership, Chellandurai (1984;1993) implemented a large quantity of coaching effectiveness studies. The main component of this model identifies three types of behaviour in coaches, those preferred by athletes, actual/required behaviour. These are influenced by three precedent variables, the characteristics of the coach/athletes, together with the actual situation. Subsequently, The Leadership Scale for Sport(LSS) was developed by Chellandurai&Saleh(1980) to test the specified relationship in the multidimensional model and whether it is applicable in predicating leadership effectiveness in sport. This method has been utilised extensively in sport to assess the influence of gender, age, or personality on preferred/perceived leadership. Age is key factor when planning, as it has a tremendous bearing on optimal training loads. As suggested by Hagger(1999), it is critical that coaches recognise that biological age is more relevant when planning training loads than chronological age. According to Rushall&Pike (1990), athletes may respond differently to the physical environment, therefore, coaches must be able to modify training programmes to suit an individual athlete’s tolerance.
However, as suggested by Fairs(1987), this model also has limitations that accompany a model for coaching. Lyle(1999),also suggests that difficulties may occur in a model of this type when put into practice, as its assumptions may not match existing parameters. Therefore, Cote et al(1995) devised a model of coaching with the advantage of empirical based research. This model does have similarities to the multidimensional model in that it recognises both personal characteristics and contextual factors of the coach/athlete. However, Cote et al(1995) developed this model further by adding a group of central components to include competition, training/organisation.
Furthermore, a lack of theoretical structures outlining the key variables affecting the work of coaches has been identified as a critical issue lacking research. The theoretical structures proposed by Smoll&Smith(1984;1989);Chelladurai(1984;1993) &Cote,Salmela,Trudel et al(1995) share common variables. However, they do not provide a complete account of all points affecting the coaching process. Thomas (1992) suggests by providing an account of the most important issues in the coaching process, identifying a base for establishing a general theory of coaching is achievable. In order to accomplish this goal a more comprehensive framework is required, therefore, the Coaching Model(CM) is utilised. The CM is able to recognise theoretical knowledge of coaching and incorporates six components, namely competition, organisation, training, coaches/athletes personal characteristics/ background. A cognitive approach in organising these components and their actual relationship is used to describe how coaches proceed to obtain their objectives of an athlete’s development. In general, a coach should be able to evaluate their own personal attributes and the individual athlete’s characteristics to establish an estimation of an athlete’s potential. This mental model can then be used as a tool to illustrate what types of knowledge/behaviours are essential for competition, organisation skills and training regimes.
Identifying objectives can be assisted by the use of The Objectives Model, Fairs(1987), with the use of a simplistic five-step objectives model of coaching, to include the collection of data, diagnosis, planning, execution and evaluation. The fourth step, execution, is important as this provides the plan of action and at this stage the coach needs to be acquainted with the athlete’s overall ability.
The final step, evaluation is another key point, this being when the coach needs to critically appraise the effectiveness of the coaching by assessing whether the set objectives were actually achieved. This method is founded on the understanding of the coaching process being orderly and based on a problem solving approach. If for example, the plan of action is unsuccessful, any problems need to be identified through reassessment and a revised plan prepared, as situations are currently changing. Therefore, this model is a useful tool for the education/training of coaches. Fairs(1987) suggests that a major role of the coach is to be able to recognise and solve an athlete’s problems and establish a scientific foundation for the method to assist in coaching, attaining a status as an independent profession. However, although simplistic in nature it does have some disadvantages, being a little limited, as suggested by Lyle(1999), this model fails to consider long-term planning, complexity of performance and interpersonal nature of coaching relationship. Individuals drive the coaching process. Fairs(1987) suggests the method fails to appreciate the inconsistencies within this predictive model.
Obviously, it is difficult for a coach to mentally maintain an athlete’s potential in their mind but they should be able to retain a mental representation of an athlete, images or assumptions. These models enable the coach to interact with the athlete to determine what course of action to undertake and how to behave with a particular athlete. They may consist of generalisations or complex theories. Therefore, two coaches with different mental models working with similar athletes may be able to identify various details and this information will help provide effective coaching, as they look at each situation differently.
As suggested by Dishman(1983) sport psychology may suffer from an identity crisis. However, it is a noted tool to provide athletes/coaches with the required mental skills to manage the demands within training/competition, helping them to reach their full potential. Feltz&Kontos(2002) describes sport psychology as the study of people’s behaviour/thoughts in a sporting context.
The model of Cote et al(1995) is a valuable example in this respect, as it is derived from empirical data. Within this model the prioritising of the coaching process components is important and it is evident there are significant limitations in the degree to which teaching paradigm conceptualisations of coaching adequately represent its complexity. The distinction between core/peripheral process fundamentals is similar to the distinction between direct/support intervention/ constraints management. However, the most interesting contribution is the centralisation in the model of the coaches “mental mode” of athlete potential. Whereas, Franks(1986), set out to propose a means of assessing the effectiveness of coaching. Although, again the focus being on direct intervention, providing the model with an episodic importance centred on skill development. One key issue of this model is the recognition of performance criteria and its use to regulate progression. Vital issues, such as performance are identified in a quantitative fashion both in training/competition, training being focused around incremental/differential improvements over time. With the use of continuous evaluation it is suggestive that this model would be most suited to league sports, where there is a regular cycle of preparation/competition, and performance is complex and not vulnerable to complete measurement.
Therefore, the objective for a coach is to understand the value of psychological knowledge and provide theoretical context for application within a particular sport. They should be able to offer an athlete with a sense of control in an environment that promotes personal perceptions of competence and the opportunity to set goals and judge performance against realistic objectives. Coaches should allow athletes to gain confidence by achievement/personal management, together with social interaction. They should attempt to manage anxiety at an environmental/organisational level. Coaches should perhaps try to incorporate an element of fun into their training regimes. As suggested by Gilbert&Trudel(2004), fun is considered a key component, however, if an athlete displays any unacceptable behaviour they would undoubtedly be disciplined.
Lifestyle variations will affect athletes, and coaches will need to take into account underlying stress problems. Anxiety can change in intensity/frequency and may be detrimental to performance. As stated by Hanton et al(2004);Thomas et al(2004), findings suggest that athletes can alter the way they view their mental status during lead-up to performance. Therefore, coaches need to identify and address this problem by integrating psychological skills such as goal-setting/cognitive restructuring seven days pre-competition.
A positive motivational climate is another key factor in sports coaching. It refers to personality traits, social variables and is fundamental in competition. As suggested by Kingston et al(2006), the personal drive that leads individuals to innate, direct and sustain human behaviour. It can be viewed from various points, self-determination theory, Deci&Ryan(1985) and achievement goal theory Nicholls(1989). Both of these theories emphasise how an individual perceives certain social factors and apply themselves, both physically and quantitatively to an activity.
The self-determination theory is based on the fact that individuals have a tendency towards psychological development. As suggested by Deci&Ryan(1985), three universal psychological needs are fundamental to motivation and mental well-being. The achievement goal theory has become one of the most popular approaches when researching motivation in sports coaching. According to Nicholls(1989) an individual’s perceived competence is central to determining motivation when partaking in a coaching exercise. Confidence in sport is important too, and two approaches are relevant to the coaching process, self-efficacy Bandura(1977) and sport-confidence, Vealey,(1986;2001). Bandura’s(1977), self-efficacy theory is concerned with an athlete’s perceived ability to perform specific sports skills at a given time. This theory indicates that self-efficacy will predict performance if the athlete feels appropriate skill levels/incentives are present, thereby making it a good indicator in the coaching process. As there are obvious limitations to this theory, Vealey(1986) proposed a sport specific model of confidence. This model indicates that self-regulation;achievement and social climate are true predictors of performance through their impact on effect, behaviour and cognition.
It also takes into account the indirect influence of gender, age and personality together with social and organisational factors of the development and maintance of sporting-confidence. As suggested by Vealey(2001), self-regulation is the management of one’s behaviours, thoughts and feelings provide a further domain, which the coach can use to strive to foster performers confidence.
Coaches should also be able to identify/analyse an athlete’s personality traits and work capability to find their optimum tolerance effort according to Bompa(1999). This evidence should help assist the coach in the decision making process in regards to relevant training loads. However, it should be considered that there is a limit to the physiological, anatomical development that can be achieved through training. This is confirmed by Costill et al(1992), in which suggests this is a factor probably determined by genetics. Obviously, athletes may have varying abilities with regards to strength, endurance, co-ordination and timing as a consequence of genetic/physiological development, which will play an important role the planning of coaching.
In conclusion, when a coach is planning an optimal training programme individualisation is a key concept to be considered. As discussed, athletes are unique both physiological/psychologically, are able to tolerate varying environments and training regimes, together with competition goals. Therefore, the role of the coach is to direct, manage and apply relevant theories in order for them and athletes under their control to achieve their objectives and reap the rewards of success. As suggested by Fairs(1987), the intention of the model for coaching is to aid the coach in identifying/solving any problems the athlete may have whilst creating a scientific foundation in support of future research and the overall profession. The coaching process ought to be able to embrace the coach, athlete, form and nurture a good working relationship between them. To accomplish this, the coach needs to identify/enhance an athlete’s goals, aspirations and physical/mental abilities and apply them correctly taking into account the working environment. Once this is completed, the required intervention programme to include coordination and integration can be implemented by the coach in order to regulate progression, enhance overall performance and achieve set goals. The role of the coach, as suggested by Franks(1986), is a planner and manager of direct intervention.