Coaches are expected to be proficient communicators, able to send and receive messages with accuracy and precision. Good coaches demonstrate communication strategies such as active listening, empathy in their language, and clear articulation when speaking. They must be able to clearly express expectations, goals, standards, and feelings to their athletes. Additionally, coaches must be able to comprehend the non-verbal messages that athletes send in order to better understand the athletes they are training. When it comes to high-pressure situations, coaches must be aware of how they are communicating with their athletes.
Smoll and Smith found that athletes responded unfavorably to coaches who didn't recognize or reinforce good performance efforts, criticize mistakes, or give critical instructions after a mistake. Coaches should also be conscious of how they are speaking to their athletes; talking too much, digressing about things that bore others, or distracting athletes during practice can all have a negative effect on the relationship between coach and athlete. In order to become an effective communicator, coaches must cultivate self-awareness. Lou Holtz tells a revealing story about his experience as a coach at Notre Dame that emphasizes the importance of developing self-awareness to become an effective communicator. Coaches should also enter conversations with the intention of working together with their athletes to improve their relationships and provide them with more information and ideas to become better coaches. Overall, effective communication is essential for coaches in order to build trust with their athletes and guarantee that expectations are met.
Coaches should demonstrate active listening, empathy in their language, and clear articulation when speaking. They should also be aware of how they are communicating with their athletes and enter conversations with the intention of working together with them.