The relationship that exists between a coach and an athlete has been extensively researched, and can be both extreme and powerful. When we talk about the relationship between a coach and an athlete, we tend to focus on the influence on the physical and psychological development of their athletes. Dr Sophia Jowett, an expert on interpersonal relationships in sport, with an emphasis on coaching relationships, defines a positive coach-athlete relationship as a situation where closeness (trust, respect and appreciation), commitment (interpersonal thoughts, intentions that maintain the relationship), and complementary (cooperation, responsiveness, easiness and friendliness) are mutually interconnected and organic.
Role of a coach:
Being a coach is based on responsibility, the role of a coach is to be the enabler in any sport that pushes an athlete to a level of performance, a breaking point, that was otherwise thought to be unachievable. Motivation and creating the conditions for learning are essential aspect that a coach needs to implement and master. A coach is only as good as the player, if the coach is unable to be effective in applying his/her skills, then progress for an athlete will be minimal. Communication is key when applying knowledge of learning processes, teaching methods, training principles and assessment procedures associated with their sport. What needs to be eradicated is the generation gap between coach and athlete, instead the roles of teacher, organizer, competitor, learner, friend and mentor need to be emphasized and encouraged.
Be a Teacher and a Leader:
A role that is easily noticeable and vital. Coaches demonstrate their knowledge through quality training and practices, providing the window of opportunity for an athlete to prepare for competition. An athlete learns to perfect their physical, tactical, technical and mental abilities that can be enhanced through a coach's supervision and correction.
Learn to organize:
A coach's duty to ensure that everything behind the scenes is properly organized and executed. Practices, competitions, scheduling, planning, transportation and budgets are all part of making the season for an athlete as rewarding and successful as possible. The plan or vision of a coach is crucial, by outlining the proper steps to achieve success, the smoother it will be for the athlete to execute the training and preparation he/she has dedicated their time to.
Create a competitive drive:
Competition day requires various tasks that a coach must engage in, to ensure that the athlete is facilitated and free of any obstacles. Team sports require for a coach to be more active, making substitutions, time-outs, interact with officials. Whereas individual sport coaches act as a passive observer. Nevertheless, a coach must be ten steps ahead of the game to ensure his/her athletes can compete at their fullest potential.
Be an active learner:
A coach should be continually learning about their sport and improving their abilities as a trainer.
Don't forget to be a friend and mentor:
The development of strong relationships and partnerships are built and maintained with athlete and coach. It is a partnership build on trust, the coach must be a positive role model and the athlete must be a positive participant that follows the guidance of a coach. The discussion of problems, sharing successes, support and counseling are all necessary to this partnership. If these aspects are not emphasized, then an athlete can either experience a negative effect that affects their feelings of satisfaction with the coach-athlete relationship.
Try not to dwell on expectations:
What needs to improved and monitored consistently between a coach and an athlete is the expectations that each has for one another. Expectations made by the coaches affect their behavior towards the athletes with respect to the frequency and quality of interactions, quality and quantity of instruction, and type and frequency of feedback. The cycle is complete when the athlete’s performance confirms the coach’s expectancy. If a coach is wrong, a gifted athlete might never achieve his or her potential.
Coaching is an art as well as a science. A coach has to absorb a vast amount of information and scientific data about their sport, and translate it into practical coaching and training programs. The success or failure of this process relies heavily on the coach’s experience, availability of resources, knowledge of the event or sport, and their relationship with the athletes that they are coaching. By understanding the scientific principles that surround their sport, a well designed training program can be developed that will help an athlete reach their full potential. The art of coaching is in the understanding and application of the science.
If all these statements can be established and delivered, then we are able to witness a success coach/athlete partnership that can lead to a future of great success and accomplishments.
A coach must always remember that the partnership is mutual and that an athlete must give and take as much as coach, balance and reciprocity can help strengthen the partnership.