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Athletic Coaching

A Communication Perspective

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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 6: The Interpersonal Perspective: Coaches as Relational Partners

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THE INTERPERSONAL PERSPECTIVE: COACHES AS RELATIONAL PARTNERS

A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional amount of time on “x’s and o’s” as compared to time spent learning about people.—Mike Krzyzewski1

Coaching requires both formal and informal modes of communication, as well as the proper attention toward task and relational aspects of team functioning (Turman, 2017). Coaches’ interactions with athletes commonly extend beyond the task-related prescriptions of their roles (i.e., to guide performance and teach sporting skills), as many coaches desire to form connections with and develop athletes as people. The interpersonal relationships that form between athletes and coaches are a valuable source of motivation for continued participation in sport and shape various psychological dispositions toward coaches, teams, and overall sporting experiences (Ishak, 2017; Jowett, 2017). In her examination of elite coaches, Becker (2009) noted that athletes come to value coaches who demonstrate concern and support for them beyond the realm of sport. In other words, while maintaining appropriate boundaries is necessary, athletes appreciate coaches who connect with them on an emotional and personal level. Unsurprisingly, athletes describe effective coaches as mentors, friends, or parents (Becker, 2009; Cranmer & Brann, 2015; Cranmer & Myers, 2017). Coach communication scholars who focus on the formation ← 105 | 106 → and consequences of athlete-coach relational dynamics operate from an interpersonal perspective.

The interpersonal perspective recognizes that coaching is a process rooted in the development of meaningful...

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