Coaching/Sport Psych: Learn to Cool It During Competitions

Coaching/Sport Psych: Learn to "Cool It" During Competitions

Pat Aitken

It's easy for coaches to get excited at competitions.  We experience many of the same pressures as our athletes, and some of us react by becoming hyper and vocal.

But is this what's best for our athletes? Some do need to be pumped up or “activated,” but others may perform better if they're calmed down or maintained at their current level of excitement.

If you are a coach who has trouble controlling yourself during competitions, you may be hurting the performance of athletes who need a calming influence.

Ways to Help
Once you've recognized your potential to hurt your athletes, you can take steps to improve the situation. One way is to have a calmer coach deal with certain athletes before the competition. For example, your assistant coach might deal with those athletes who require calming, while you can interact with those who need “pumping up.” If your whole squad needs calming, let the assistant do team talks.

Canadian gold medal diver Sylvie Bernier did this at the 1984 Olympics. Her regular coach sat in the stands while a calmer, more supportive assistant worked with her on the diving deck.

Get Feedback
Ask your athletes how you can best help them during competition. They may ask you not to make last-minute changes, not to correct them, to reassure them, or even to stay away.

1. Richard Cox, Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications, McGraw-Hill Humanities, 2011.
2. Terry Orlick (PhD), In Pursuit of Excellence (2nd edition), Human Kinetics Publishers, 1990.

To download the pdf version of this
article, click here: Download Now

© 2011, Physical Education,

Bookmark and Share

Printer-Friendly Format