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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 8: Building Athletic Coaching Theory: Extending Confirmation Theory to Athletic Coaching


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There’s always ways of motivating yourself to higher levels. Write about it, dream about it. But after that, turn it into action. Don’t just dream.—Dan Gable1

The purpose of this text is to synthesize and advance the scientific exploration of coach communication through outlining, connecting, and promoting applied and generalizable means of inquiry regarding how coaches can effectively guide athlete performance and development, as well as manage their sporting environments. Andersen (1989) argued that “science is a process of discovering order amid chaos and regularity in randomness” (p. 4). A central means of finding such order and regularity is through the creation and refinement of social scientific theory (Berger, Roloff, & Roskos-Ewoldsen, 2010). Communicative theories are comprised of a set of statements that address the realities of human interaction with “a set of interrelated propositions that stipulate relationships among theoretical constructs and account of a mechanism or mechanisms that explain the relationships stipulated in the propositions” (Berger, 1995, p. 417). Simply, communication theories identify and explain relationships between communicative concepts, including why ← 145 | 146 → those relationships exist. Theory is useful because it provides scholars with frameworks to simplify and generalize about human interaction (Littlejohn, 2009), as well as investigate and test new ideas (Berger, 1991, 1995). Empirical investigations subsequently build and refine theory, which continues the generation of knowledge. Unsurprisingly, a goal of communication research is the creation...

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