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Communication Skills for Coaching

Good communication - The coaches most important skill
By: Rob Antoun



Good communication is the most important skill that a coach possesses – no matter what level of player they are working with. This resource looks at the various ways that coaches communicate with their players and how this skill has a massive impact on the effectiveness of their coaching. In other words, we will study the ‘how to be’ skills of the tennis coach.

With young or less experienced players the coach must be a good communicator so that they can explain exercises clearly, control and organise the players, generate an energetic and positive environment, and motivate the players to work hard and to want to improve.

With older and more advanced players the coach will communicate differently so that they can help players feel positive when they are struggling, give players honest feedback without becoming confrontational, help players to motivate themselves, generate enthusiasm when players are struggling to generate it themselves, and challenge players to work hard and push the boundaries of improvement.

In the early stages of training coaches are taught the basics of communication which are:

·         Voice projection

·         Varying tone and emphasis in voice to motivate and praise

·         Positive body language

·         Basic reinforcing feedback


This resource will study the more advanced communication skills and issues surrounding:

·         Coaching styles

·         Feedback

·         Questioning skills

·         Demonstrations

·         Player learning styles

Coaching Styles

Coaches use a range of styles to communicate, motivate and instruct their players. Inexperienced coaches tend to have only one style of coaching that they use all of the time. Examples of this would be a coach who constantly asks questions, or a coach who only gives instruction and never gets input from the players.

The most effective coaches are able to sense which style of coaching is most appropriate for the player that they are working with and the situation that they are working in. They are able to adapt their coaching style to suit the needs of the player in any given situation. This is crucial when working with young players because it is often the way in which a coach communicates that proves more important than what is actually being communicated! Therefore, coaches need to develop their ability to coach using styles from right across the teaching style continuum:

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