Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - Coaches’ leadership skills and leadership theories – their essence and significance in sport

The author describes and discusses leadership styles and leadership capabilities of coaches in sport activities. The proper choice and application of a given leadership style by the coach is of paramount importance and is one of most important factors influencing coach – athletes relationship and efficasy of training and – of course – the competition results. And so leadership capabilities ought to be studies, understood and properly applied in coach’s work.
According to Stoghill leadership is the process of influencing the activities of a organised group (club, section, national team, school class etc.) in its efforts toward goal setting and goal achievement. His definition is not unlike Carron’s notion of an influence system as opposed to a power system of leadership. Behling and Schriesheim proposed typology of leadership theories that provides a logical approach to the study of theory of leadership. This classification (typology) categorises various theories in terms of traits and behaviours and in terms vhether the theory emphasises universal or situation-specific leader characteristics.
The trait or “great man” theory of leadership emphasises the notion that great leaders possess a set of universally consistent personality traits or dimensions that facilitate efficient and successful leadership. Another important type of leadership theory is based on the notion that successful leaders possess a relatively universal set of behavioral characteristics which could be identified. This type of leadership theory was spread by researchers at the university of Michigan and Ohio State University. One of them important factors of these theories was the idetification of consideration and initiating structures of the two most important leader behaviours. A third typological approach to the study of leadership style and leadership capabilities was represented by Fiedler’s contingency theory which ephasises the notion that leader’s effectiveness is situation specific and contingent on certain factors associated with the favourableness of both the situation and the leader’s personality dimensions. The forth broad category of leadership theories is situation specific theories. The main difference between these and Fiedler’s theories is that the emphasis is based more on specific-situation leader behaviours as opposed to stable personality dimensions and traits. Situation-specific theories include path-goal theory, life cycle theory, functional theory and Chelladurai’s multodimensional model of lesdership. Coach-athlete relationship, including empathy, constitutes an important factor influencing the style and efficasy of leadership. The quality of relationship between coach and athletes is a very important determint of team success and and athlete’s satisfaction.
An athlete’s direction and level of motivation, his arousal, his success and satisfaction, as well as his self-afficasy and resistance to stress, are markedly enhanced when the coach helps the athlete to perceive his/her role as independant, meaningfull and autonomous. Intrinsic and extrinsic feed-bach including knowledge of results, are also important for athlete’s success and motivation.
The following are the final conclusions and advice to the coaches.
1. Coaches who achieve great success show certain common traits (strong personality, high level of motivation, motif of success, various leadership abilities, high level of knowlenge and practical capabilities etc., etc.) but one universal set of traits and leadership abilitiesdoes not exist. Very often great and successful coaches show very different personality domensions, traits of temperament, leadership style, forms and methods of coaching etc.
2. It is very difficult to change one’s dimensions of personality, especially temperamental traits, but one can learn certain leadership abilities.
3. Very often the coaches show very distictly their approach: either ego involvement or task involvement. The coach with strong desire to achieve success, must try to remember personal interrelationship and athlete’s satisfaction. And vice versa a coach whose main concern are good relationship with the athletes and their satisfaction schould not forget about necessity of achieving good results in competition.
4. As changing one’s personality is difficult the coach schould try to have an assistant with different personality dimensions and different leadership style.
5. The coach schould help his athletes by helping them to establish main goal and practical tasks, both in the process of training and in competitions.
6. Controlling and developing his leadership abilities the coach must take into consideration his pupils (their age, stage of training, motyvation, involvement etc.).
7. The coaches schould – as much as it is possible and desirable – take into account athletes views, motivation, preferriered style of leadership, their possibilities etc.
8. There are several leadership styles, all of them have their strong and weak points but from the point of view of education, social value and competition resalts by far the best is, ably displayed – co-operative style.