How one communicates to athletes determines motivation and dedication to the sport. Specifically, the coach and team leaders convey this message. When these leaders reinforce each other, no team member would be confused about the message of the program. Within lies the problem: if communication is not shared within the administrative bodies of the sport, team cohesion falls and lack of direction arises. Though it seems shallow, perception of these messages reflects the ability of the leaders and is inadvertently going to determine the success of the team. Communication and leadership can help a team flourish, but too much of it can drown out the real problems.
Pain and Harwood give an example of a team that worked well through open discussion. What happened were improved results by increased winning and social cohesion. By talking problems out, the team knew each other better and problems could be solved. With discussion, there were no direct leaders, but the team as a whole democratically decided how to address a problem. Though it worked out for this soccer club, one has to pay attention to the ages of this team. These were elite athletes who were committed to the sport and were mature enough to make good decisions. In addition, this team was small enough that even the quiet players got a say through a written questionnaire. The team realized that conflict is constantly changing and that is why that had to continue to deliberate. In order to build cohesion, the team has to constantly adapt (Vealey). Because communication was straightforward, this team succeeded.
The opposite happened with Anderson's baseball team. Anderson's problems were that he had too many leaders and that he forgot the goal of the program. Anderson had to write out his philosophy again and clearly state it to the team. He also had to collaborate with his assistant coaches to sort out the problems and find solutions. Anderson was able to achieve team cohesion in this fashion. As Vealey states, "[c]ohesion is the ability to interact effectively in their pursuit of team goals and group satisfaction." Anderson was able to dissolve cliques that were forming due to the assistant coaches acting autonomously (Vealey). Through collaboration, this team succeeded. People working together aids in removing mixed messages because conflict is openly discussed.
However, others argue that a strong leader is all that the team needs to resolve conflict. Janssen argues that team captains are the medium between the coach and the player and that through them conflict can mediated and messages clarified. This works to an extent, but it undermines the coach. That is why Jansen also recommends that students nominate team captains and that the coach makes the final decision. From the case studies above, the coach has to compensate for the inexperience of the team captains. This new Millennial generation (our athletes) needs to heard or their performance will become lackluster (CBS). If the coach is primarily concerned about winning and the athletes just want to have fun, the competing goals need to be resolved. Communication is the medium in which both the athlete and coach need to collaborate.
-Sam Suber ◕_◕