Coaches at the Olympics will play a key role in motivating their athletes to help them achieve optimal performances. But effective coaching is vital in many other performance environments, such as the military and education.
For over a decade, researchers from the Institute for the Psychology of Elite Performance at Bangor University have been conducting research into the motivational effects of coaches in sport, military and education settings in order to understand the factors that underpin effective coaching and leadership. The research team has conducted a number of large -cale controlled intervention studies designed to improve the quality of coaching and leadership behaviours used by coaching staff.
For example, work in the military has involved intervening on leader behaviours that have been shown to improve recruit self-confidence, motivation, commitment and pass rates. This work has demonstrated considerable improvements in recruit outcomes and has culminated in members of the research team being involved in developing new training posts within the British Army. This work has also led to the development of a new model of leadership effects: the provision of vision, support and challenge.
Other studies are examining the effectiveness of leadership and coaching interventions in sport and education. The importance of high-quality coaching is vital to enable Olympic athletes reach their peak.
Understanding the sorts of coaching behaviours that impact performance and performance-related outcomes will help coaches to improve the quality of what they do and, ultimately, should enable greater numbers of athletes to excel in Olympic competition.