UNDERSTANDING ROLE THEORY AND THE COACH-ATHLETE RELATIONSHIP IN TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL SPORT.
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The coaching process is an under-theorised, ill-defined area (Cote et al, 1995), which as a result causes conflict when researchers have discussed the nature of the process. Indeed, no academic framework exists that depicts the multifaceted environment that a coach operates in. Therefore, an enhanced understanding of the coaching process may lead to a universal improvement in coaching standards (Jones et al, 2005). Goffman (1959) formed the basis of understanding the interactions within the coaching environment and how the coach’s role is affected by these interactions alongside how the coach-athlete relationship is influenced. Four participants who coached within the performance setting and the academy setting at UWIC were obtained for the study. Two of the coaches coached team sports and two of the coaches coached individual sports. All participants were male and had a minimum of five years of coaching experience as well as an extensive background within the general sporting context. A focus group was used to prompt discussion between the coaches in order to gain an insight into their perspective on the coach-athlete relationship and the role they play within the coaching environment. Thematic content analysis was used to explore the focus group transcripts.Both the team and individual coaches expressed similar opinions when discussing the role of the coach within the coaching context. The results suggest that all coaches, regardless of the context they are working within, have to be aware of the 'performance images' (Callero, 1994) they are creating and the needs of the athletes in order to use this to develop the athletes to full potential. The ability of the coaches to be self-aware of what their role is and how they are going to 'act' within the coaching environment, eludes a sense of confidence which will be apparent to the athletes and the external sources who will trust the knowledge and behaviours of the coach. Furthermore, the use of clear communication (Branhart, 1994) by the coaches to the athletes about what their roles are within different contexts sets boundaries that are precise and prevents any role cross-over which has the potential to be detrimental to the coach-athlete relationship should one role turn negative. Although similarities were obvious in the examination of team and individual environments, it was clear that the expectations from external sources, such as the organisation the coaches were working for, forced differences within each environment. Both types of coach strived to form their athletes as a social unit, which allowed for better a better social environment and interactions. However, the team and individual environments differed when examining the notion that the coach of a team has to also form a performance unit. The members of a team have to work together to perform successfully whereas individual athletes are able to perform without the involvement of other athletes in their success. As a result coaching behaviours change within the team environment in order to achieve team cohesion and to meet the expectation of others, such as the organisation they are working within, who are aware that a team should work cohesively in order to achieve triumphs (Shaw, 1981). Each coaching environment has its own social and cultural dynamics (Cassidy et al, 2004) and so an enhanced examination of the varying demands within each context would provide for a better understanding of the different coaching environments.
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Wade, David (University of Wales Institute Cardiff, 2012)Previous studies have focused on the coach-athlete relationship within a professional sporting environment. However areas such as elite amateur sport have been ignored. The purpose of this paper was to explore the coaching ...
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