Thanks to the development of specific studies, carried out above all in the last few years in the field of nutrition, physiology, physiotherapy, and psychology, today coaches do everything to always acquire new techniques and new training methods. All this so that the preparation of the athlete is always more fruitful. This is why the so-called sports coaching was born.
The word “coaching” comes from the English verb “to coach” which means “to train”. Coaching consists of a set of methods and strategies to train a person or group of people in a specific area. Therefore when we talk about sports coaching we refer to the activities of the “mental coach” who, acting on the psychological and motivational sphere of athletes and teams, aims at achieving the maximum sporting performance. If you want to know more, don’t miss the following article.
What are sports coaching?
Attitude and mentality
It is not possible to establish when, at a certain point in history, sports coaching was “invented” . However, we generally share the idea that it had its beginnings in the 1960s, thanks to the work of coach Vince Lombardi (1913 – 1970), coach of the legendary American football team, the Green Bay Packers.
Lombardi was the first to speak of “attitude” and “winning mentality” as an integral part of the preparation of a team. Aspect amply demonstrated by the fact that he was able to take a last-ranked team and lead it to the victory of two consecutive Super Bowls.
Similarly, sports coaching begins to develop and grow by involving elements that were not given proper importance before. Only in recent decades, in fact, coaches and technical directors have begun to work on the constant search for a balance between physical and mental development. The coach has the task of eliminating the boundaries that prevent the athlete from reaching his maximum potential. Both as an individual and as part of a team.
Fundamental principles of sports coaching
Over time, the sports world has begun to show increasing interest in this new mental approach to competition. And it has been taken into consideration as a type of coaching (there are others like a business, executive, cognitive, personal, for example), becoming a real subject that professionals who want to train as a mental coach must necessarily study.
Furthermore, some fundamental cornerstones of sports coaching have been established, which is worth highlighting. Let’s see the most important ones:
- The coach must know how to listen, that is, he must take into account at all times the questions and opinions of the team he is training.
- Always keep the goal clear, working to achieve it and, at the same time, encourage the growth of athletes even as people. For this reason, environments are created that are able to convey values, make people reflect on objectives and promote learning.
- The coach does not give orders to the athletes but has the duty to guide and guide them. Prepare the athlete to become aware of the possible difficulties that may arise during the game or the competition.
- He knows how to motivate athletes. It stimulates the athlete’s desire to reach the goal.
One of the key aspects of sports coaching is the psychological factor. First, the coaches focused only on the development of the physical part of the athlete, leaving aside any mental problems. But it was realized that every athlete can see their performance drop if he suffers from any form of stress, anxiety or depression.
Sports coaching works on the person at all levels, trying to make them bring out the best in themselves. That is, he is interested in his needs as an individual, to help him face the competitive moment with all his mental and physical potential. In this way, the concept so wonderfully expressed by the Roman poet Giovenale, the famous aphorism “Mens Sana in corpore sano”, follows.
Leadership does not mean “to command”
A leader is that person who works with his team to achieve one or more goals, leveraging motivation and encouraging concentration. It also instills values and encourages athletes, or players, to be better every day. Therefore, sports coaching is the best tool for leadership that a coach can apply.
Now, sports coaching can also be considered a leadership technique, and a rather effective one, in reality. Not surprisingly, its fundamentals, as you could appreciate, always aim to encourage the athlete to give the best of himself both physically and mentally.
Occasionally, some coaches get caught up in the fact that being the authority of the team, they have the right to decide for others and create communication barriers. This type of coach makes a serious mistake: they follow and imitate the stereotype of “boss” and not that of a leader.
Fortunately, however, today more and more sports professionals prefer to exploit the benefits of sports coaching, as it generates better results and guarantees greater growth in competitive activity. Furthermore, the environment and the coach-athlete relationship are much more fluid and a stronger bond is certainly created.
In this way, sports coaching becomes the key to the leadership of anyone who trains a team or closely follows an athlete, even a non-professional one. At the same time, it serves as an impulse for the athletes, motivating and convincing them that they can achieve extraordinary results even in their personal life, in work and in interpersonal relationships.