What makes a good or effective coach?

“A good coach will make his students/athletes see what they can be, rather than what they are. ” – Ara Parasheghian  

I think no one will dispute the positive effect sport plays in the development of a person.  In addition to improved physical health, active sporting has proven to lead to higher academic achievement, higher self-esteem, fewer behavioral problems, and better psychosocial. Sports contribute positively to the five ‘C’s: competence, confidence, connections, character, and caring. All these are considered to be critical components for personal development. The many facets of playing sport like: the discipline of training, learning teamwork, following the leadership of coaches and captains, learning to lose, can provide lifelong skills for athletes. Beside all this, sport stresses the positive effects of participation in learning the important life skills of goal setting and time management combined with enjoyment; the development of a strong sense of morality; and the development of an appreciation of diversity.

 Understanding the importance of sport combined with the fact that the majority of athletes see their coach as the number one influential element in the their competitive experience begs us to look closer at the role and responsibilities of a coach.

 It is the coach’s role to help their students to improve their skills, perform to their best ability, develop strong character, and build confidence. They can maximize the positive value of sport and competition, and they can enhance the intrinsic motivation to play sport. An athlete with the right intrinsic values of sport and the positive experience of mastery is more likely to apply fair play, good sportsmanship and is more likely to have a healthy attitude towards the sport, the fellow athletes and itself.  However when winning is overvalued it can create an environment in which unsportsmanlike behavior flourishes and it often breeds a mentality where one thinks that results justify the means.

 Bad coaching can push the psychological, emotional, and physical limits of students to the point of harm, create a hostile and unfair environment, and turn athletes away from sport forever.

Even coaches who love the sport and have respect for their students can lose perspective in the quest to win. This is especially true when coaches are under incredible pressure to produce winning results.

 What makes a good or effective coach?

 The role of coach is a complicated one. Surveys show that coaches serve as instructor, teacher, motivator, disciplinarian, substitute parent, social worker, friend, manager and therapist. Ideally, coaches should understand the developmental stage and limits of their students in order to tailor practices and learning appropriately. In addition to these expectations, coaches are expected to have an in-depth knowledge of the sport they are coaching, including the rules and the skills and techniques needed to play the sport. At more advanced levels of competition, they need to understand basic kinesiology, sport psychology, nutrition, and basic first aid. It has to be said that at a higher level, athletes are more likely to work with a team of ‘specialized coaches’ and to have access to a better ‘support teams’.

This article is a combination of my own findings and partly an excerpt from “True Sport Report – Psychological and Social Benefits of Playing True Sport”. You can read the full article at http://www.truesport.org

Jean Dorff

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Dad, Partner, Friend, Dancer, Dance-Teacher, Performance-Coach, Adjudicator, Motivational-Speaker, Writer. It’s my goal in life to inspire people to discover and use their unlimited potential and empower them to create a life of purpose, passion, health and abundance, leading to their destiny.

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