Coaches have versatile roles. They can serve as instructors, teachers, parents, motivators, disciplinarians, parents and therapists. Coaches play a big role in athletes lives because they serve as influencers, and they can inspire their athletes to hone their skills, perform their best and develop stronger character.
However, when worse comes to worst, some coaches can push their athletes psychologically, emotionally and physically to the point of harm. A survey conducted by The Sport In America found out that 78% of coaches, agreed that inappropriate coaching behavior is one of the most problematic issues facing sports today. Some athletes say that when their coaches are too strict, they feel fear instead of excitement whenever they start training.
Unapproachable coaches who do not tolerate questions or listen to explanations can discourage some athletes from training. It’s true that coaches can feel sometimes pressured, especially when things aren’t going well. They can drop harsh words, and these words can often make things worse. Tough love works at times, but coaches should not do this regularly. Coaches should aim to give out useful critique and supportive comments to balance things.
Coaching is more of a verbal profession. Coaches depend on words to convey messages, instruct and motivate their athletes. The way coaches phrase things can come off as either competitive, positive or in-your-face. However, most gymnasts respond better to positive reinforcements rather than harsh critique.
At an early age, young gymnasts need all the encouragement they can get in order to continue doing the sport, regardless of their ability levels. On the other hand, older gymnasts need positive motivation to acknowledge their accomplishments.
At some point in their lives, every gymnast feels down, frustrated and doubtful. It is, therefore, every coach’s job to assist and guide their athletes through these tough times in any way they can.
Positive coaching helps athletes understand that winning is not about scores or trophies but mastery of the sport. They see victories as byproducts of the struggle for excellence, and they focus on effort rather than outcome. The behavior of a coach reflects on the team or athlete they are leading. If you want your players to support and maintain a positive outlook, then the coach needs to do the same.