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Understand 3 Dimensions of Communication

Effective coaching requires not only sport-specific knowledge but also sound teaching and communication skills. Both the coach and the player must be prepared to transmit and receive information from each other. Too often, coaches transmit but do not receive information.

Good communication comes not only from what you say but how you say it. Every word and gesture sends your players messages about your attitude towards them. In fact, it is impossible to not communicate, as everything we do is communication of one type or another.

To begin with the basics, we have identified three dimensions of communication:

Sending ________________ Receiving
Verbal ________________ Non-vebal
Content ________________  Emotion

Communication is not only about sending messages but also receiving them. Coaches should not only be able to send clear and concise messages, they also need to be astute listeners to understand what their players are communicating in return.

While most people tend to focus on communicating the verbal message, research indicates that more than 70 percent of all communication is non-verbal, such as facial expression, body language, and tone of voice. We tend to have more control over what we say than what we do. For example, how may a coach's body language, after a player makes a mistake, suggest annoyance or disappointment? What effect may this have on a player? Should a coach try to hide their body language?

The third dimension of communication is content, the factual information contained in the message, and emotion or how the sender feels about the message. Coaches can at times have difficulty containing their emotions, particularly under the pressure of intense competition.

Many coaches tend to be good at the sending, verbal and content aspects of each dimension but need to improve on the receiving, non-verbal and emotion aspects.