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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 5: The Group Perspective: Coaches as Group Members


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[When coaching] make sure that team members know they are working with you, not for you.—John Wooden1

Coaching is a process that occurs within social collectives comprised of coaches, staff, and athletes (Carron, Hausenblas, & Eys, 2005). Within these collectives, coaches oversee the web of interactions between athletes and themselves, as well as those between teammates. Coaching is inherently a group context that requires attention to social climates, calculated efforts to build team cultures, and the negotiation of athletes’ roles and team strategies toward task accomplishment (Myers & Anderson, 2008). The quality of team social dynamics may inspire innovation and collaboration, or deter teamwork and promote hostility between team members (Carron et al., 2005). Thus, the social climates of sports teams influence how teams approach their goals and, ultimately, whether they are successful. Effective coaches ensure members of their teams work together by creating social environments that assist in the accomplishment of shared tasks and goals. As such, it is unsurprising that the teams of effective coaches offer a sense of family or belonging among members (Becker, 2009; Cranmer & Brann, 2015; Cranmer & Myers, 2017). Coach ← 85 | 86 → communication scholars who acknowledge and focus on coaches’ roles within these collectives operate from a group perspective.

The group perspective recognizes that coaches and athletes are co-members of a shared collective, and that coaching is an act rooted within managing...

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