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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 3: The Instructional Perspective: Coaches as Instructors


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In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.—John Wooden1

The term coach was a colloquialism for academic tutors during the 19th century in England, and was transferred to the context of athletics because of its instructional nature (Day, 2013). The similarity between instructional settings and sport is not lost on modern scholars either, who argue that sport is an informal educational context in which information is exchanged and learning occurs (Cassidy, 2010; Jones, 2006; Turman, 2008). As a learning context, sport influences the cognitive, physical, and social development of participants (Heath & McLaughlin, 1994; Jones, 2006). Coaches have a central role in athletes’ learning and development, as the manner in which they structure sporting activities and interact with athletes determine learning outcomes (Camiré, Forneris, Trudel, & Bernard, 2011).

The instructional perspective frames coaches as instructors, who gather information and insight regarding sport and share it with athletes through verbal and nonverbal communication (Kassing et al., 2004). Athletes are framed as learners, who receive and process coaches’ verbal and nonverbal communication in an attempt to understand instruction and bring it ← 43 | 44 → to fruition via their physical performance. The purpose of the instructional perspective, therefore, is to understand...

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