The Importance of the Coach – Athlete Relationship in Gymnastics : What are the Characteristics and can it be Effected?
University of Wales
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Throughout the research process, the importance of the coach – athlete relationship was examined from the coach’s perspective. Eight gymnastics coaches were interviewed that specialised in Women’s Artistic, Men’s Artistic or Trampoline Gymnastics at a variety of levels from recreational classes to international performers. The predominant topic areas that were considered relating to the coach – athlete relationship within gymnastics was the impact of a positive (LaVoi, 2007) or negative relationship (Kenrow and Williams, 1999) respect (Philipee, and Seiler, 2006), power (Jones et al., 2002), trust (Jowett, 2009) and communication (Jowett and Ntoumanis, 2004) It was also considered whether a coach required the ability to alter their coaching depending on the individual athlete to improve their coach – athlete relationship (Cross and Lyle, 1999) and (Dowdell, 2010). The coaches aired their opinions relating to these issues and how they felt it affected the coach – athlete relationship. The coaches agreed that the coach – athlete relationship was of vital importance to athletic development and their satisfaction within training (Bicserdy et al., 2007) In a similar way, it was considered that all of the categories were important to the coach – athlete relationship and that respect, power and trust had to be mutual if they were to establish a successful working relationship (Lavallee and Robinson, 2007). The coaches seemed to understand the importance relating to these areas and that they needed to try and incorporate them. However, some of the coaches found it sometimes difficult to implement these features practically into their coaching. The general consensus was that it was difficult due to gymnast’s generally being very young and not being able to take full responsibility over their training. The coach – athlete relationship would benefit from future research to increase awareness of its importance within every sport, not just gymnastics. This can enable the coaches to generate greater knowledge and ability when developing a sustainable working relationship that is satisfying for both coach and athlete. In addition, research into different coaching styles and behaviours preferred by the athletes would benefit to establish whether they significantly enhance a coach – athlete relationship (Peters et al., 200
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