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Athletic Coaching

A Communication Perspective


Gregory A. Cranmer

Each year, millions of youth athletes participate in organized sport under the guidance of a coach, who is entrusted with overseeing their development and performance, as well as providing a safe environment. A communicative approach to coaching recognizes that the skills, lessons, values, and experiences that athletes gain are determined by how coaches interact with athletes and structure their sporting environments. Athletic Coaching: A Communication Perspective provides a foundation for a communicative perspective of coaching in an effort to better understand and promote coach effectiveness. As part of this effort, this book conceptualizes coaching as a communicative endeavor, provides a framework from which to understand coaching effectiveness, and explicates four common perspectives (i.e., instructional, organizational, group, and interpersonal) utilized by communication scholars to examine coaching. Moreover, this book forwards a scholarly agenda for building a holistic framework of coaching and increasing the applied value of coach communication scholarship via methodological and theoretical considerations. Athletic Coaching is of benefit to many audiences, including communication students and scholars who are developing their understanding of coaching literature, interdisciplinary scholars who seek a representation of a communicative perspective of coaching, and coaches who may use this text as a self-reflective tool for pedagogical refinement.

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Chapter 1: A Communicative Approach to Athletic Coaching


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To me, the coaching profession is one of the most noblest and far-reaching in building [adults]. No [person] is too good to be an athletic coach for youth.—Amos Alonzo Stagg1

The role of sport in society has grown throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. Sport is a ubiquitous component of social discourse and shapes how we come to understand our societal structures, as well as our roles and experiences within those structures (Kassing et al., 2004; Pedersen, 2013a; Wenner, 2015). The influence and presence of sport is only possible through a complex web of interactions between interdependent stakeholders (i.e., participants, media, organizations, and fans), known as the community of sport (Billings, Butterworth, & Turman, 2018). Each member of this community has a vital role in the communicative performance of sport. The value of sport as a context of human achievement and development, however, would be significantly lacking if it were not for athletic coaches. Coaches are the conduits of knowledge that allow athletes to refine their abilities, sources of inspiration and support that keep athletes involved in sport, and organizers of sporting activities and team climates. As such, coaches are central figures in sport participation, influencing athletes’ physical performances, relationships with teammates, and development (Kassing et al., 2004; Potrac, Denison, & Gilbert, 2013). ← 1 | 2 →

Perhaps the importance of their roles is why coaches are viewed as mythical...

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