Coaches and Sports Psychologists Rate the Effectiveness of Aggressive Training Styles Versus Challenging Training Styles


Whistles, screaming crowds, flags waved by referees, screaming teammates; it can be overwhelming to be an athlete. But the only aspect that can arbitrate or make a stressful situation worse is the coach.

In July, Justin Hebert and Aubrey Newland, graduate students at California State University Chico, published an research article confirmation of overly aggressive training styles can be detrimental not only to athletes, but also to the coaches’ track record. Hebert and Newland suggest that a stimulating style of coaching is more effective.

Hebert said there are different types of communication styles that athletes respond to. But some respond better to more aggressive communication while others prefer a relaxed style of communication. Hebert said, “If this is the communication style that works effectively for an athlete, then maybe it is the communication style that needs to be used.

“But, research shows that this is generally not the case. Most athletes respond better to a more stimulating style of communication. A more symbiotic relationship where coach and athlete are sort of equal.

For Michele O’Brien, head coach of women’s soccer at DePaul, being genuine and understanding with the athletes is crucial.

“To be a human and not just a trainer in [one-on-one] moments is super important, ”she said. “It can’t be something wrong, it has to be genuine.”

The study claims that coaching can even theoretically have an impact on an athlete’s motivation, which is known as the self-determination theory. Intrinsic motivation – the motivation that represents the desire and joy in playing a sport – and the achievement of competence, individuality and strong relationships are all necessary for an athlete to want to continue playing a sport.

“When these three needs are not met, our intrinsic motivation to play is shattered. It goes down severely, ”said Hébert. “And research shows that people who are less intrinsically motivated to participate in an activity will give it less effort. They will probably be less efficient. They won’t want to go out of their way to do something for their coach or another athlete. They’re not going to be spending overtime at the gym because they don’t want to be there anymore.

Hebert said his research has found that the best way to achieve an athlete’s competence, autonomy, and kinship is through communication and relationship building with the athlete. Mark Plotkin, head coach of men’s soccer at DePaul, agreed coaches should build relationships with their athletes.

“Take the time to be with the athletes [is important], especially before you start, ”Plotkin said. “Spending time with the athletes before training starts is a good time for a bit of a chat, even when they’re warming up and stretching you can walk around and joke with them a bit. I always find that this is the time for us to really humanize ourselves because as soon as the practice starts we train and we teach so we have to be quite focused.

“We even have one-on-one meetings to check in with them and see how they’re doing, how the lessons are going, how they are doing in their job search or their internship search world, how football is going. We try to talk about everything, not just football. We always tell them when we recruit, we’re not just your soccer coaches, we’re here to help you become productive members of society once you leave this place and make a positive impact on the world.

If a coach has a negative relationship with their athletes, Hebert says there is no immediate solution that a coach can implement into their coaching style.

“It’s not necessarily a switch that you can flip from patronizing to caring overnight,” Hebert said. “Relationships don’t build overnight. If someone treats you badly for weeks, months, or years, then all of a sudden the next day, they’re super nice to you [you won’t automatically believe they’re your friend]. It doesn’t work that way, it takes a long time to build a relationship. The best way to [build relationships] it is a little at a time.

O’Brien said she tries to strike a balance between being patient and stern with her athletes when she builds a relationship with them.

“For me, it’s about finding the balance between being patient but not overly patient because at the end of the day you have to get results and win games,” said O’Brien. However, you have to be patient with the process.

“Everyone is different,” Hebert added. “Everyone wants to be treated in a specific way. One example is the golden rule of treating others as you want to be treated. I kind of agree with that, but I actually agree with what someone mentioned [to] as a platinum rule: don’t treat others as you want to be treated, treat others as they want to be treated.

Plotkin agreed with this view, recognizing the importance of players being known as individuals, not just as athletes, especially at the college level.

“A trainer I worked for told me, and it kind of resonated with me: they don’t care what you know until they know how much you care,” he said. he declares. Plotkin said that caring about your athletes is one of the most important parts of training.


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