Effective Coaching Behaviours, Styles and Feedback
This week we will take a look different coaching behaviours and styles and how they can affect your session’s delivery. It is important to consider the group you are working with as not one style or set of behaviours will work for every group or participant. Using the wrong style or set of behaviours can lead to a drop in skill acquisition or a drop in participant behaviour.
In coaching, the technical aspects of a technique or skill is often what is focused upon. It is also important to consider how these lessons will be delivered to get the most from the participants, as one style does not suit everyone.
When looking at coaching styles the level of how coach led or participant led they are affects how the session will run. We will now look at the different coaching styles you may use and what the positives and negatives of each one are. We will also look at key times you may use each coaching style and why.
Autocratic or Command Style
This approach is coach led and involves the coach giving instruction with the participants completing what they have been told. This is often regarded as quite an old fashioned style of coaching and whilst it has some negatives, in certain situations it also has positives.
- Gives participants very clear direction.
- Keeps control of the group.
- Gives less chance for misbehavior.
- Leaves no room for participant input into the activity.
- Not rider centered about their needs.
- Very controlling which can be negative.
- Does not encourage high levels of intrinsic motivation
Whilst this coaching style can still be effective it is often discouraged from modern coaching and reserved for particular situations. This can be times where some of the perceived negative aspects of the coaching style can become positive.
This coaching style can be particularly effective when you are working with a new group, with a task or area that could have potential to injure the riders or with a group that are misbehaving or are hard to control.
With a new group it can be useful as it allows the coach to keep the session flowing until they know how the group will re-act to scenarios and how to differentiate the activities based on the abilities. Until the coach is familiar with this information setting the participants to lead a task that is too difficult will have a negative effect on how much they take from the activity.
When working on a task such as descending which requires a coach and the participants to be on a slope that could be a hazard and on a technique that if done in correctly could cause a crash it is important for the coach to keep control. Using the Autocratic/Command style allows the coach to control the speed of the activity and it helps them to ensure that it is carried out in a safe and correct manner.
In a group with behaviour problems using this style allows the coach to keep control, minimise opportunities for disruptive behaviour to occur and allows poor behaviour to be dealt with immediately. Using this coaching style ensures the coach is in control of the group which can help to deter poor behaviour and makes it easier to punish or control.
Democratic or Cooperative Style
The democratic style of coaching is a shared learning process between the participant and the coach. As the coach you will help to set goals and guide the participants through activities so they can discover the best techniques and methods for achieving their goals. This helps participants to retain skills better and be able to better transfer them into a variety of situations.
As with any other coaching style this still has its pro and cons but is considered a better coaching style to help participants reach their maximum potential.
- Participants are involved in the learning process so become more motivated.
- Participants feel more connected to the coach and able to ask questions and explore outcomes.
- Helps with better skill retention.
- Requires coach to have a strong knowledge of the sport.
- Can lead to activities lasting much longer due to discussion and exploration.
- If done incorrectly can lead to excessive talking and lead to a drop in practice time.
This is a coaching style that is recommended to be used in the majority of coaching situations. This is because allowing the participants explore the actions and skills helps them to understand the action themselves rather than simply copying actions set by the coach.
This will also help your participants to retain skills for a longer period of time and put them to better use in a variety of situations. It will also help you to develop more motivated athletes that are interested in cycling and also learning the skills you want to teach.
This coaching style should preferably be used with established groups that don’t have behavioural issues and that are working on simple terrain such as a flat car park. Considering the environment is an important part of selecting the coaching style you will use as you will want to use this coaching style in familiar environments that allow participants to safely explore skill outcomes. This can be on smooth tarmac and grass field locations.
Using feedback is a key way you as a coach can help develop your participant’s skills. This can help guide them to a better outcome and closer to a better technical model of the same skill. Here we are going to look at the different types of feedback you can use and when it is best to use them.
What is feedback?
Feedback can be anything you do as a coach from general comments such as ‘good’ to more specific feedback based on the skill they just performed. The body language you use can also give away your feelings on a performance and have an effect on future performances.
Descriptive feedback – This type of feedback is one of the most common used by coaches and simply describes the performance. This can be using terms such as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ after a performance and is also called general positive and negative feedback.
This type of feedback should be used minimally as it doesn’t help the cyclist understand how they can do a better performance in other attempts or other activities.
Prescriptive feedback – This style of feedback gives the cyclist more specific feedback about the performance they just did with hints how they can improve it for next time. This will be given alongside some descriptive feedback so that the cyclist knows whether it was a good performance or not.
This type of feedback is generally recommended as the best style of feedback to deliver to your cyclists. This helps the riders improve their performance and can also help to motivate your cyclists to improve their performance.
Feedback frequency and timing of feedback
Feedback should be kept to key performances and not given after each one. If you use feedback too frequently the cyclist may get motivated only by your feedback. Using feedback for only key performances makes sure that your cyclists know the feedback is worth listening to and acting upon.
Using feedback in this way will help to keep your cyclists motivated and improving their skills.
Timing your feedback correctly helps your cyclists retain skills but we will first look at when the best time is to give the feedback.
Feedback can be given during the performance of the skill or after it has been performed. Giving the feedback after the skill has been performed is more effective as it allows the cyclist to process their own feedback based on the performance and then use your feedback after as a coach.