Sports Leadership And Communication Physical Education Essay

This research is based in Sports Leadership and communication. The specific area to be investigated is the question following:

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Different coaches will have different leadership and communication styles. How will you determine the most appropriate style for you to use? The Coaches leadership and communication style can affect the athlete’s psychology.

I’m investigating this area on my class paper because as a sports coach, I would like to know how to be a leader of my team and communicate with my athletes.

Based on that problem statement, I have to answer the questions:

What is Leadership?

What is Communication?

From these two basic questions, I should answer more focused questions.

What is leadership and how is connected with psychology?

What are the leadership traits?

How communication skills can be use in sports psychology?

How can you send and receive messages more effectively to athlete’s psychology?

These questions are made into sections which can be:

Definitions of leadership

The Leadership traits


Send and receive messages

Definition of leadership in Sports psychology

Leadership might broadly be considered “the behavioral process of influencing individuals and groups towards set goals”. This definition is useful because it encompasses many dimensions or leadership. In sport and exercise, these dimensions include making decisions, motivating participants, giving feedback, establishing interpersonal relationships, and directing the group or team confidently. (Weinberg, 2007)

“A leader knows where the group or team is going and provides the direction and resources to help it get there. Coaches who are good leaders provide not only a vision of what to strive for but also the day-to-day structure, motivation, and support to translate vision into reality. Coaches, teachers, and exercise specialists are leaders who seek to provide each participant with maximum opportunities to achieve success. And successful leaders also try to ensure that individual success helps achieve team success”. (Weinberg, 2007)

Leadership is simply this: First it’s knowing how to chart a course, to give others direction by having a vision of what can be.” A team without a leader is like a ship without a rudder”. Second, leadership is developing the social and psychological environment-what business calls the corporate culture and I’ll call team culture-to achieve the goals the leader has charted. This culture consists of selecting, motivating, rewarding, retaining, and unifying members of your team-players, assistants, everyone who helps your organization. Excellent coaches-leaders-give the team vision, and know how to translate this vision into reality. Coaches, in their leadership roles, seek to develop an environment whereby each and every athlete has the maximum opportunity to achieve success, and in so doing achieve team success. The coach is concerned not only with the physical environment, but the psychological and social environments as well. . (Martens, 1987)

Leadership formally defined, is the action of an individual to influence others toward set goals. It is often confused with management. Management consists of planning, organizing, staffing and recruiting, scheduling, budgeting, and public relations. Leaders perform these functions, or delegate them to others, but they also do more. Leaders determine the direction for the future, and then marshal the resources within the organization to pursue that vision. Managers simply handle the routine, never questioning whether the routine should be done. This distinction is significant in sport, for too many teams are over managed and underled. (Martens, 1987)

Leadership emphasizes interpersonal relationships and has direct impact on motivation, whereas management necessarily does not. Tom Peters and Nancy Austin write in A Passion for Excellence:

“Coaching is face-to-face leadership that pulls together people with diverse backgrounds, talents, experiences and interests, encourages them to step up to responsibility and continued achievement, and treats them as full-scale partners and contributors. Coaching is not about memorizing techniques or devising the perfect game plan. It is about really paying attention to people-really believing them, really caring about them, really involving them”. (1985, p. 326)

While reading through the massive literature on leadership, I gained two impressions. First, the leadership literature in psychology, including sport psychology, contains pounds of pulp and ounces of information. Never have so many said so much to tell us so little. And second, the essence of leadership, what sets it apart from other human processes, is ill conceived in psychology. (Weinberg, 2007)

Leadership Style

There are two leadership styles democratic and autocratic. As you might expect, the coach with a democratic style is typically athlete centered, cooperative, and relationship oriented. Conversely, the autocratic style is usually win oriented, tightly structured, and task oriented. A coach need not act entirely one way or the other. Coaches can effectively integrate and blend democratic and autocratic leadership styles. Different leadership behaviors are more optimal in various situations, as you have seen through the multidimensional model of sport leadership and LSS. The challenge is determining what style best suits the circumstances and whether individuals and flexible enough to adapt their dominant style to a particular leadership situation. The appropriate coaching style depends most on situational factors and member characteristics. (Weinberg, 2007)

One aspect of style that has been researched is how decisions are made by coaches. In fact, coaching effectiveness largely depends on making good decisions and the degree to which those decisions are accepted by athletes. Chelladurai and others have developed a model of decision making that applies in sport. Five primary styles of decision making are used in sport:

Autocratic style. The coach solves the problem herself using the information available at the time.

Autocratic-consultative style. The coach obtains the necessary information from relevant players and then comes to a decision.

Consultative-individual style. The coach consults the players individually and then makes a decision. The decision may or may not reflect the players’ input.

Consultative-group style. The coach consults the players as a group and then makes a decision. The decision may or may not reflect the players’ input.

Group style. The coach shares the problem with the players; then the players jointly make the decision without any influence from the coach.

(Weinberg, 2007)

To the above figure we can see the different types of coaching leadership style:


Section II
Trait Approach

In the 1920s, researchers tried to determine what characteristics or personality traits were common to great leaders in business and industry. They considered leadership traits to be relatively stable personality dispositions, such as intelligence, assertiveness, independence, and self-confidence. Proponents of the trait theory argued that successful leaders have certain personality characteristics that make it likely they will be leaders no matter what situation they are in. This would mean, for example, that Michael Jordan would be a great leader not only on the basketball court but also in other areas of life such as business and community affairs (or as part owner of the Washington Wizards). Or that Winston Churchill, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr., would have similar personality characteristics that helped make them effective leaders. (Weinberg, 2007)

The trait approach lost favor after World War ??, when Stogdill reviewed more than 100 trait theory studies of leadership and found only a couple of consistent personality traits. Although certain traits might be helpful for a leader to have, they are certainly not essential for successful leadership. Because common leadership traits among coaches, exercise leaders, and performers have not been found, little sport research today uses the trait approach to leadership theory. Leaders have a variety of personality traits. There are no specific traits that make a leader successful. (Weinberg, 2007)

Interactional Approach

Trait and behavioral approaches emphasize personal factors at the expense of considering the interaction between people and their situational constraints. Many researches in industry and general psychology have proposed interactional models of leadership. These interactional theories have important implications for effective leadership in sport and exercise settings.

As we have seen, no one set of characteristics ensures successful leadership. Investigators believe that great leaders have had in common personality traits appropriate to leadership role and distinct from nonleadership roles. However, leaders have not been predicted solely by their personality traits.

Effective leadership styles or behaviors fit the specific situation. Coaches have been fired from team positions, for example, when administrators thought they weren’t providing effective leadership, only to be hired by another team where they were immediately successful. These coaches probably did not suddenly change their leadership styles or the way they coached-rather, their leadership styles and behavior fit better in the new settings.

Leadership styles can be changed. If you hear someone say, “Some people just have what it takes,” don’t believe it. In fact, coaches and other leaders can alter their styles and behaviors to match the demands of a situation. Two examples of leadership styles are presented as well as how they might change to fit a situation. For example, relationship-oriented leaders develop interpersonal relationships, keep open lines of communications, maintain positive social interactions, and ensure that everyone is involved and feeling good (their style is analogous to the consideration function described earlier). On the other hand, task-oriented leaders primarily work to get the task done and meet their objectives (their style is analogous to the initiating structure function described earlier).

A relationship-oriented leader focuses on developing and maintaining good interpersonal relationships; a task-oriented leader focuses on setting goals and getting the job done.

People can change from a relationship-oriented style to a task-oriented style and vice versa, depending on the situation. According to Fiedler’s research as he developed his contingency model of leadership, the effectiveness of leadership depends equally on the leader’s style of interacting with the group and on the situation. Specifically, Fiedler argued that a task-oriented leader is more effective in either very favorable or unfavorable situations; a relationship-oriented leader is more effective in moderately favorable situations. A physical education teacher in an inner-city school that lacks facilities, leadership, and community support might have to be seen as very unfavorable. Getting things done and setting goals would override developing positive interpersonal relations. In contrast, a physical education teacher in a lower-middle-class school where the facilities are poor but the community support is good (moderately favorable situation) might be more effective as a relationship-oriented leader. Thus, sport and exercise professionals need to be flexible in leadership styles, tailoring them to meet the demands of situation. If a coach feels more comfortable with one type of leadership style than another, she should seek out situations in which this style would be more effective.

Highly skilled players are typically already task oriented, and coaches who have a more relationship-oriented style appear to be more effective with these players. Conversely, less skilled players need more continuous instruction and feedback, and a task-oriented coach would be more appropriate for them. This does not mean than less skilled individuals do not need or want a caring, empathic coach or that more highly skilled participants do not need specific feedback and instruction. It is a matter of what should be emphasized.

The effectiveness of an individual’s leadership style stems from matching the style to the situation. (Weinberg, 2007)

In Finding a Way to Win, Bill Parcells, successful football coach what he believes to be the keys to successful leadership:

Integrity. A leader’s philosophy must have a sound structure, must be rooted in the leader’s basic values, must be communicated and accepted throughout the organization, must be resistant to outside pressure, and must remain in place long enough to allow for success.

Flexibility. Traditions are made to be broken. If you’re doing something just because it’s always been done that the way, then you may be missing an opportunity to do better.

Loyalty. The first task of leadership is to promote and enforce collective loyalty, also known as teamwork.

Confidence. If you want to build confidence in your players and coaching staff, give them responsibility and decision-making capabilities and support them in their attempts.

Accountability. Accountability starts at the top. You can’t build an accountable organization without leaders who take full responsibility.

Candor. When sending a message, it’s not enough to be honest and accurate. The impact of the message will hinge on who’s receiving it-and what the recipients are willing to take in at that time.

Preparedness. Well-prepared leaders plan ahead for all contingencies, including the ones they consider unlikely or distasteful.

Resourcefulness. At its most basic level, resourcefulness is simply resilience, a refusal to quit or give in even when all seems bleak.

Self-discipline. There is always a way to compete, even against superior forces, but strict adherence to a calculated plan is required.

Patience. Patience is rarest-and most valuable-when an organization is performing poorly. It’s not enough to know what changes must be made; it’s equally important to decide when to make them.

(Weinberg, 2007)

Section III:

“The relationship that exists between a coach and an athlete has been extensively researched, and can be both extreme and powerful (panel). A coach has tremendous influence on the physical and psychological development of their athletes. Sophia Jowett has defined a positive coach-athlete relationship as a state reached when coaches’ and athletes’ closeness (eg, interpersonal feelings of trust, respect, and appreciation), commitment (eg, interpersonal thoughts and intentions that aim to maintain the relationship over time), and complementarity (ie, interpersonal behaviours of cooperation, such as responsiveness, easiness, and friendliness) are mutually and causally interconnected. The main responsibility of the coach is to enable their athletes to attain levels of performance not otherwise achievable. Coaches therefore need to motivate athletes and establish the right conditions for learning. Effective coaches have many skills. They should, for instance, be good communicators and have a working knowledge of the learning processes, and of the teaching methods, training principles, and assessment procedures associated with their sport”. (Sandra E Short, Martin W, 2005)

These skills enable a coach to fulfil five defined roles-those of teacher, organiser, competitor, learner, and friend and mentor.

1. Teacher: This role is the most immediately recognisable function of a coach. Quality training or practising provide opportunities for coaches to display their knowledge and skills to help prepare athletes for competition. Training involves the provision of tuition about physical, tactical, technical, and mental aspects of the sport. Although some coaches also teach their athletes psychological skills (such as mental imagery or relaxation techniques) to help them learn and perform new skills, and effective strategies to improve their self confidence and regulate arousal and anxiety levels, many hire psychologists to work with their teams on these aspects of mental training.

2. Organiser: Typically the least enjoyable or rewarding part of being a coach involves the work that is done behind the scenes-the organisation of practices and competitions, and the scheduling, planning, and transportation of athletes-that makes for a successful season. Organisation, however, helps a coach to prepare for training and for competition, and is a crucial variable for success in all sports. A coach must have an explicit plan or vision, especially in team sports. It is vital for a coach to begin every season by outlining the steps necessary to achieve success. Related to the role of the coach as an organiser is the recognition that they often have to work within certain constraints. There are issues specific to places and contextual factors like scholarship allotment and budgets that can affect a coach’s win-loss record.

3. Competitor: Throughout the day of competition, the coach must attend to various tasks. These tasks differ from sport to sport. Coaches of teams play a more active part in competitions than do coaches who work in individual sports; having to make athlete substitutions, call time-outs, and interact with officials. Individual sport coaches are often passive observers during competitions. Coaches in team sports also tend to be more emotional than those in individual sports, in that they are more likely to experience the same emotions as many of their athletes. This emotional response, coupled with perceptions of how the team played and the outcome of the contest, interact to affect the content and focus of the post-competition meeting with athletes.

4. Learner: A coach should be continually learning about their sport and improving their abilities as a trainer.

5. Friend and mentor: Coaches have the opportunity to develop strong relationships with their athletes and to take on the role of friend and mentor. This process involves being a positive role model, discussing problems, sharing successes, offering support when needed, and even providing counselling when necessary. This aspect of coaching can have a strong positive or negative effect on the athlete and affects their feelings of satisfaction with the coach-athlete relationship. An important research finding is that successful coaches seek to improve athletes’ lives both inside and outside of sport.

Results of research into the characteristics of coaches indicate that there are some differences between those who work in individual sports and those who work in team sports. The same is true for athletes. Irrespective of the type of sport, however, both parties view the structure and function of the coach-athlete relationship in the same way. It is noteworthy, though, that athletes in individual sports often feel closer and more committed to their coaches than do team players. What seems to be more important than the individual sport versus team sport distinction is the expectation that a coach has for their athletes. The expectancy theory, or the self-fulfilling prophecy, describes the situation in which coaches’ perceptions of their athletes affect their behaviour towards them, consequently encouraging actions from the athletes that are consistent with the initial judgment. In sport, the expectancy model comprises four stages. First, coaches form expectations of their athletes based on the athletes’ personal cues-eg, physical appearance, ethnic origin, and sex-and performance information-eg, practice behaviour, past performances, and skill tests. Second, the expectations made by the coaches affect their behaviour towards the athletes with respect to the frequency and quality of interactions, quality and quantity of instruction, and type and frequency of feedback. Third, over time, the coaches’ behaviour affects the athletes’ performances by causing lowexpectancy athletes to perform to poor standard because they have received less reinforcement and playing time, have less confidence, and believe their ability is limited, compared with high-expectancy performers, who typically excel. The cycle is complete when the athlete’s performance confirms the coach’s expectancy. If a coach is wrong, a gifted athlete might never achieve his or her potential.

Coaching is an art as well as a science. A coach has to assimilate a vast amount of information and scientific data about their sport, and translate it into practical coaching and training programmes. The success or failure of this process relies heavily on the coach’s experience, availability of resources, knowledge of the event or sport, and their relationship with the athletes that they are coaching. By understanding the scientific principles that surround their sport, a well designed training programme can be developed that will help an athlete reach their full potential. The art of coaching is in the understanding and application of the science.

(Sandra E Short, Martin W,2005)

Sending and receiving messages

These are guidelines for sending effective verbal and nonverbal messages (Martens, 1987b):

1. Be direct. People who avoid straightforward communicating assume that others know what they want or feel. Rather than expressing their message directly, they hint at what they have in mind-or they tell a third person, hoping the message will get to the intended recipient indirectly.

2. Own your message. Use “I” and “my’ not “we” or “the team,” when referencing your messages. You disown your messages when you say, “The team feels or “Most people think you are.. .” What you’re saying is what you believe, and using others to bolster what you have to say implies cowardice in expressing your own megs..

3. Be complete and specific. Provide the person to whom you are speaking with all the information he needs to fully understand your message.

4. Be clear and consistent. Avoid double messages. “I really want to play you, Mary, but I don’t think this is a good game for you. I think you’re a fine athlete, but you’ll just have to be patient.” This is an example of a double message-acceptance and rejection-and it probably leave Mary confused and hurt. Double messages send contradictory meanings, and usually the person sending them is afraid to be direct.

5. State your needs and feelings clearly. Because our society frowns on those who wear their emotions on their sleeves, we tend not to reveal our feelings and needs to others. Yet to develop close relationships, you must share your feelings.

6. Separate fact from opinion. State what you see, hear, and know, and then clearly identify any opinions or conclusions you have about these facts. You say to your son when he returns home late one night, “I see you’ve been out with the Williamson kid again.” In the context in which you say it, your son will receive the message but not be certain of what exactly your concern is about the Williamson boy. A better way to send this message would be to say, “That was the Williamson kid, wasn’t it?” (verifying a fact) and then, “I’m concerned that you spend time with him. I’m afraid he’ll get you into trouble” (stating your opinion). Although your son may not be pleased with your opinion, at least he’ll understand it. 7. Focus on one thing at a time. Have you ever begun discussing how to execute a particular skill and abruptly switched to complaining about how the team hasn’t been practicing well? Organize your thoughts before speaking.

8. Deliver messages immediately. When you observe something that upsets you or that needs to be changed, don’t delay sending a message. Sometimes holding back can result in your exploding later about a little thing. Responding immediately also makes for more effective feedback than a delayed response.

9. Make sure your message does not contain a hidden agenda, which means that the stated purpose of the message is not the same as the real purpose. To determine if your message contains a hidden agenda, ask yourself these two questions: Why am I saying this to this person? Do I really want the person to hear this, or is something else involved?

10. Be supportive. If you want another person to listen to your messages, don’t deliver them with threats, sarcasm, negative comparisons, or judgments. Eventually the person will avoid communicating with you or simply tune you out whenever you speak.

11. Be consistent with your nonverbal messages. Perhaps you tell a player it is okay to make an error, but your body gestures and facial expressions contradict your words. Conflicting messages confuse people and hinder future communication.

12. Reinforce with repetition. Repeat key points to reinforce what you are saying. However, don’t repeat too often, because this causes the other person to stop listening. You can also reinforce messages by using additional channels of communication-show a picture or video along with explaining a skill, for example.

13. Make your message appropriate to the receiver’s frame of reference. Messages can be much better understood if you tailor them to the experiences of the person with whom you are communicating. It is inappropriate, for example, to use complex language when speaking to young athletes. They do not have the vocabulary to understand what you’re saying.

14. Look for feedback that your message was accurately interpreted. Watch for verbal and nonverbal signals that the person to whom you are speaking is receiving the message you intended. If no signal is given, ask questions to solicit the feedback: “Do you understand what I am telling you, Susan?” or “Are you clear about what you should do?”

Athletes and Coaches behaviour has the most important role in their communication to the follow article we see some studies about players and coaches behaviour.

“Relevance of several factors to players’ aggressive behavior has been extensively studied. Sport-related factors were studied in the framework of context-personality (Isberg, 1985, 1986, 1989) or context-gender (Rainey, 1986; Kemler, 1988; Bond & Nideffer, 1992) relationship. Teams’ moral atmosphere, team norms regulating aggressive acts, and players’ perception of these norms are mentioned to be important in this circumstance (Stephens & Bredemeier, 1996). Difficulty of the task (McGowan & Schultz, 1989) and use of anabolic steroids (Lefavi, Reeve, & Newland, 1990) also appear to be relevant to aggression in sport. The relevance of communicating factors was also studied (Hanin, 1980) and practically discussed (Hanin, 1992).

Coach-related factors are also of importance in this context. Coaching includes decision-making processes, motivational techniques, giving feedback, establishing interpersonal relationships and directing the team confidently. Good coaches provide not only a vision of what to strive for, but also the day-to-day structure, motivation, and support to translate vision into reality. Because of the importance of coaches’ behaviors and its possible relation to players’ behaviors, it seems that our understanding about the significance of this relationship needs improvement.

Having studied coaches’ behaviors extensively, some investigators tried to categorize coaching behaviors. Tharp and Gallimore (1976) after studying the behavior of the most successful NBA coach emphasized the importance of instruction and demonstration behaviors and their significant effects on players’ success. At the same time, sport specific questionnaires were also developed.

Danielson, Zelhart, and Drake (1975), revised the Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire to classify coaching behaviors into eight categories. On the other hand, researchers trying to develop guidelines for training coaches (Smith, Smoll, & Hunt, 1977; Smoll, Smith, Curtis, & Hunt, 1978) needed a proper tool to observe and classify coaches’ behaviors; therefore, the Coaching Behavior Assessment System (CBAS) was developed for coding and analyzing the behaviors of coaches in natural field settings (Smoll & Smith, 1984). This system which was applied in the present study, divides coaches’ behavior into twelve categories as follows:



Mistake-contingent encouragement

Mistake-contingent technical instruction


Punitive technical instruction

Ignoring mistakes

Keeping control

General technical instruction

General encouragement

Organization and General communication

According to Smoll and Smith (1984), distributions in the CBAS categories indicated that nearly two-thirds of coaches’ behaviors were found to be positive, falling into the categories of: a) positive einforcement, b) general technical instruction, and c) general encouragement. Players who played for coaches, who frequently used encouragement, instructions, and reinforcement, demonstrated greater self-esteem at the end of season. They rated their teammates and their sport more positively.

According to Weinberg and Gould (1995) these players reported that: “they liked their teammates more, felt their coaches were knowledgeable, rated their coaches better as teachers, had a greater desire to play again the next year, and had higher levels of enjoyment comparing to other young players” (p. 208).

Having considered the association between coaches’ and players’ behaviors (Tharp & Gallimore, 1976; Danielson, Zelhart, & Drake; 1975), one may consider that some players’ unwanted or negative actions may also be related to coaches’ behaviors. Aggressive behaviors are among the most problematic behaviors in sport setting and reported to be somehow related to coaching behaviors. Isberg (1985) reported that coaches encouraged players to commit aggressive acts to win the game; such acts were often rewarded by coaches and teammates. Stephens and Light-Bredemeier (1996) observed that the power of context in elite level of competition, forced young soccer players to act aggressively even if they had different orientation. Special stress on relating players’ aggressions to coaches’ behaviors would be explained by Social Leaming Theory (Bandura, 1973), which emphasizes the important role that significant others have on the development or control of aggression (Smith, 1988). Therefore, the main objective of the present study was to investigate the reality and the amount of possible correlations among coaches’ behaviors and players’ aggressive acts in natural field settings.” (S. M. VaezMousavi, & M. Shojaei, 2005)


Leadership is the process that one individual set some goals and is trying to support them and accomplish them with the help of others. A Leader is a person who rules others and he is trying to guide and inspire them.

As a Coach you have to have the strength to lead your players or athletes. There are different types of coach-leaders but is good to borrow from other coaching-leaders if you want to improve your coaching and leadership skills.

The most important traits of a leader are honesty, integrity, to be a “good” person and to be positive. Exhibiting these traits will decrease your leadership.

A coach influences the physical and psychological development of his athletes. Some important roles of a coach are teacher, organizer, competitor, leader, friend and mentor.

The characteristics of a coach are different depending on who he is coaching. When he is sending some messages he must be direct, complet