Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Be a Communicator


Communication is a very important element of elite sport leadership. It encompasses two key elements: being able to talk to people and being able to listen to people. It is imperative that a leader be able to get his or her point across to the team or even to each player individually. Research also suggests that an athlete’s perception of the coach’s behavior can be a determinant of possible outcomes or results. A coach’s behavior can have indirect impact on athletes’ perceptions, interpretation, and evaluation of those behaviors, which influences the athlete’s self-perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes. In turn, the way a leader communicates can have influence on motivation of an athlete. This makes communication even more important considering both the direct and indirect effects. The athlete being on the same page and having a full understanding of the coach’s expectations, vision, philosophy, and strategy will affect performance. A leader must be able to articulate and re-articulate vision and core values of the organization.


Listening is an important aspect of communication. If you listen to your athletes and assistants, you may learn something very vital. Communication is not only being able to speak, but to listen and understand. Listening encompasses delivery and reception. Communication means engaged conversation.

Athletes’ perceptions of the coach has an effect on communication. It is important for a leader to be able to try to relate to his or her followers. Using communication techniques such as humor to get the point across can be a positive force in galvanizing a team.


There are a number of issues that result in difficulty in communicating with an athlete. Some of these possible issues include :

  • The athlete’s perception of something is different from the the coach’s perception of a situation
  • The athlete may jump to a conclusion instead of working through the process of hearing, understanding and accepting
  • The athlete may lack the knowledge needed to understand what you are trying to communicate
  • The athlete may lack the motivation to listen to you or to convert the information given into action
  • The coach may have difficulty in expressing what he or she wishes to say to the athlete
  • The coach may not consider the athlete’s personal background or past experiences when jumping to a conclusion
  • Emotions may interfere in the communication process
  • There may be a clash of personality between the coach and the athlete


Elite sport leaders should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do I have the athlete’s attention?
  • Am I explaining myself in an easily understood manner?
  • Has the athlete understood?
  • Does the athlete believe what I am telling him or her?
  • Does the athlete accept what I am saying?


After reviewing a variety of literature in the area of communication, these sub-themes below are common indicators of effective communication and can apply in both sports and business.


  • Clear                      Make sure your information is presented clearly
  • Concise                 Be short and to the point
  • Correct                  Be accurate and be careful of misleading information
  • Complete              Give all the information and not just part of it
  • Courteous             Be respectful of others
  • Constructive         Be positive; give constructive criticism; not deflating


Fitzpatrick, A. M. (1988) The Six C’s of Effective Communication, Health Progress, March:96-101.