The Importance of Communication in Sport

Communication in sport is of paramount importance for successful playing. Take a look at all the ways communication can improve a team’s performance.
The Importance of Communication in Sport

Last update: 05 September, 2019

Communication in sport isn’t always a priority when talking about sports methodology. However, a team with good communication is usually more successful than teams who can’t communicate well. Still, what does good communication imply? How is it achieved?

First, it’s necessary to clarify that communication as a way to contact and interact with transcends sport. The ability to communicate through speech, and other channels, has been the basis of our society.

As you probably know already, communication allows development, cooperation, and coordinated work. As in the tale of the Tower of Babel, when human beings cannot communicate well enough, they cannot achieve their goals.

Communication in sport

Sport as a human activity doesn’t escape the need for communication. To understand the rules, work as a team or interact with rivals and the public, whether in a spoken way, with signs or through gestures, communication is always present. So then, we can see it in:

  • Training: working with physical trainers and coaching staff requires good communication. Precisely, it’s considered ‘good’ when its fluid and the receivers correctly capture the message.
  • Playing: mainly among peers, athletes must understand each other very well within the playing field. Understanding what action the other person is going to take through a look, a gesture or a phrase from a distance is essential.

What is communication?

Communication is achieved when the sender sends a message to a receiver through a channel. Communication channels can be linguistic or paralinguistic. However, there are many ways in which communication can stop being clear, concise and direct.

good teams are those thatr communicate with assertivity

In sport, these interferences are especially relevant, and it’s of the utmost importance that athletes acquire the ability to overcome them. Among the main ones, we can highlight:

  • Environments saturated with noise: the places where sports activities usually take place have a lot of noise from fans, which can make communication between participants difficult.
  • Presence of rivals: many times the messages have to be encrypted, which is achieved when team members understand each other very well.
  • Multiple roles: in a team, there can be many participants and, in turn, many roles. If communication isn’t well structured, this can be a problem.

Assertive communication: fundamental in sport

On a psychological level, communication is the only way in which the team members can properly carry out their tasks. A vertical and clear communication structure set by the coaches could set a communication structure, but this doesn’t necessarily imply communication is effective. Bidirectionality is key to successful communication.

Assertive communication is achieved when an athlete, in addition to receiving strategic orders, is part of the process in which these decisions are developed. When an athlete feels part of a project, it means that he has a voice within the team.

An athlete needs to feel recognized for more than their sports skills. Therefore, the more participation you have in the communication process, the better your personal interactions and team performance will be.

The coach’s role

The coaches, in addition to being a reference point, are the ones who set the ground rules for the team’s communication process. Then, achieving assertive communication will depend mainly on the communication style of the coach. If you’re a coach, there are some tips you can keep in mind:

  • Be clear and concise: it’s not necessary to leave aspects related to the game open to interpretation. At least one should try to be clear in ideas and in the way in which they are transmitted.
  • Be direct: communication through third parties isn’t the most assertive way of communicating. Usually,  it generates the effect of a broken telephone.
  • Use several resources: communication isn’t always spoken; a coach needs to gesture, write, draw and use all the means at his disposal to transmit his ideas.
  • Allow inclusion: a coach must make their athletes feel heard without this interfering too much in their game ideas. Then, if you’re a coach, you must establish two-way communication, in which feedback is the tool by which you receive the needs and emotions of your directed ones.
communication in sport begins when athletes are children

  • Convince: Being charismatic depends on assertive communication. If athletes trust their coach, it’ll be easier to convince them that they can achieve their goals.

Feedback: another key to communication in sport

When the message dies in the receiver without the possibility of receiving a response, there’s a communication problem. As it is, feedback is the basis of successful communication in sport.

You could say feedback is a device with which the members of a team, at any level, can receive a performance evaluation and can also issue it. This is valid for both athletes and coaches.

When we see an obvious conflict among athletes of the same team or with their coaches, it means that the appropriate means were not used for resolution. Hence the importance of using assertive communication mechanisms. This means all members of a team can express their views and resolve conflicts in the right environments.

For many people, communication doesn’t seem an indispensable issue in the sports field. However, all these aspects linked to communication in sport will be directly reflected in the team’s performance. It’s always positive to take them into account and try to apply them!

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