Coach’s Discourse And Communication With Athletes

Coach’s Discourse And Communication With Athletes

The success of any sport team is partly dependent on the establishment of effective communication systems. Coaches play a crucial role in the developing essentials for communication development or maintenance of the existing communication systems. Coaches also play a crucial role in enforcing the aspects of collective effort, team leadership, and time management through his/her own communication. Notably, the coach’s discourse has a considerable impact on communication with athletes. A discourse can be described as the established ideologies, beliefs, and power structures that are ultimately reflective of those social constructions. In this case, the significance of the coach’s discourse in communication with athletes is attributed to how influence is realized in and through talk.

Significance of the Coach’s Discourse in Communication with Athletes

Discourse is a term that is commonly used to describe and explain the coaching process in relation to its impact on athletes. This term is used in examining how language contributes to thoughts about and perception of coaching and those involved in the process in various ways. Generally, this concept relates to how a coach generates impact on athletes in and through talk i.e. what is said and how it is said (Cassidy, Jones & Potrac, 2009, p.115). Moreover, this concept focuses on the language-in-use and the influence of such language on athletes’ perception and behavior. Therefore, the coach’s discourse is significant when communicating with athletes.

One of the significances of the coach’s discourse when communicating with athletes is its impact on perception and behavior. In this case, the coach’s discourse plays a vital role in influencing an athlete’s perception and behavior. This impact is created through the kind of language the coach utilizes, how he says it, and the power of such language on the athlete. An athletes’ perception and behavior is influenced by the meanings he/she construct from the information given and language used by the coach. The coach’s discourse with regards to formulation and use of language is reflected in the descriptors, metaphors, and analogies that he/she uses in the coaching process. Cassidy, Jones & Potrac (2009), state that language enables athletes to make sense of their personal identities and situations, which contribute to perception and behavior (p.116).

Secondly, the coach’s discourse acts as an enabling force that increases the athlete’s sense-making abilities. Through the coach’s discourse an athlete enhances his/her capability to understand, think, and make sense. On the other hand, the coach’s discourse can become a limiting force, which makes athletes to adopt certain thought patterns and speech that hinder conditions of possibility. This implies that the ability of the coach’s discourse of enable or limit an athlete’s sense-making capability is dependent on the coach and his/her language.

Impact of Discourse on Athlete’s Perception

Given the significance of a coach’s discourse on communication with athletes, discourse can affect an athlete’s perception of his/her coach’s communication. This effect occurs because athletes take cues from their coaches regarding how to think and speak in preparation and performance. One of the ways with which discourse can affect athlete’s perception of his/her coach’s communication is through the most frequently used statements by the coach (Kacur, 2012, p.49). As previously mentioned, the coach’s discourse is reflected through what is said and how it is said. This involves the use of instructions and emotional statements by the coach towards enhancing the athlete’s performance. The instructions and emotional statements affect the athlete’s perception of his/her coach’s communication.

The other way through which discourse can affect an athlete’s perception of his/her coach’s communication is through the effectiveness of the coaching process. An athlete is likely to consider the coach’s communication as an enabling force if the coach’s communication results in the creation of a mastery climate that results in improved performance. Mastery climate results in improved performance by enhancing feelings of competency, creating inner motivation, and enjoyment of the sport activity. However, the athlete will consider the coach’s communication as a limiting force if the coach’s discourse does not contribute to the creation of a mastery climate.

Alternative Forms of Discourse

There are various forms of discourse that can result in an exchange of knowledge among athletes and coaches. One of the alternative forms of discourse to accomplish this objective is the recreation of the existing sport performance pedagogy discourse. This reformulation would result in exchange of knowledge among coaches and athletes through placing emphasis on greater respect for athletes by establishing more equitable relationships instead of the existing binary coach-athlete structure. The second alternative discourse is the social discourse in relation to the specific symbolic systems in sport pedagogy (Potrac & Jones, 1999). This contributes to exchange of knowledge among athletes and coaches by enabling them to understand their role in sport.


The coach’s discourse plays an important role in the process of coaching because of its impact on the relationship between athletes and coaches. The role of the coach’s discourse is attributed to influence on communication, impact on an athlete’s perception of his/her coach’s communication, and exchange of knowledge between athletes and coaches. Discourse primarily involves what is said and how it is said by the coach or utilization of language.


Cassidy, T., Jones, R. & Potrac, P. (2009). Understanding sports coaching: the social, cultural, and pedagogical foundations of coaching practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kacur, P. (2012). Coach’s Communication Discourse and Players Emotional Living in Football.

Scientific Review of Physical Culture, 3(4), 44-50.

Potrac, P.A. & Jones, R.L. (1999). The Invisible Ingredient in Coaching Knowledge: A Case for Recognizing and Researching the Social Component. Sociology of Sport Online, 2(10). Retrieved from

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