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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 4: The Organizational Perspective: Coaches as Managers


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Coaching is people management-getting people to do what you want them to do and like doing it.—Vince Lombardi1

Organizing the sporting environment and team structures are central communicative processes of coaching (Kassing et al., 2004). The structural aspects of sport, such as scheduling, assigning tasks and roles, or shaping team culture, are largely within the purview of coaches. As such, coaches are a type of organizational manager, who oversee the functioning of sporting teams and environments that determine athletes’ development and performance (Chelladurai, 2001; Quarterman, 2003). Communication scholars argue how sport is structured determines the effectiveness of coaches, including athletes’ assumption of roles, psychological orientations, relationships with others, and team performance (Meân, 2013). Scholars who acknowledge and focus on the managerial nature of coaching operate from an organizational perspective.

The organizational perspective forwards that coaching is a process through which coaches share direction and vision with athletes. Within this process, coaches act as managers, who are responsible for their teams’ performances and use their authority to develop and direct athletes toward the accomplishment of team goals. Coaches accomplish these aims via verbal and nonverbal communication that facilitate the maintenance and functioning ← 63 | 64 → of sports teams. In contrast, athletes are subordinates, who receive information and are charged to bring coaching to fruition on the field of play. Scholars who operate from the organizational perspective largely focus on coaches’ leadership...

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