Communication in Coaching
Sarah Cohen, May 2012
As we all know good communication is vital for everything in life. As we are a coaching organisation I should probably keep this blog within the realms of coaching, however!
A colleague of mine, Stuart Harrison, who is vice chair of UK Deaf Sport is incredibly passionate about communication. Primarily this is due to him being profoundly deaf and can hear only about 20 or 30% of the sound around him. He uses his powers of lip reading, hand gestures/body language and common sense to fill in the gaps.
This got me thinking, when I am playing netball and down the other end of the court, in a noisy sports hall, how does my coach get messages across to me effectively?
- By shouting loudly?
- By using hand gestures and me using my common sense to fill in the gaps?!
To be honest it is probably a mixture of the two. If we think about it, the latter is potentially more effective in a loud and frantic environment. If we think of some more scenarios:
- When a cyclist is whizzing around an indoor track how does the coach communicate lap speed and lap counts to them? Appropriate signs and hand gestures!
- A ball goes off-side: A flag goes up.
- Exploring game tactics? Drawn on a white board.
We use so many methods of communication in sport, a very small percentage of which is verbal yet people with hearing impairments face constant barriers when participating in coached sports sessions. Why? It’s just down to awareness and, frankly, common sense. Coaches should explore other, more visual formats of communication: Identify common signs to use, write things down, speak clearly so your lips can be read, don’t use a whistle.
The spring 2012 edition of Coaching Edge includes an interview with Stuart Harrison (Sound Advice, Page 24). The article explores Stuart’s life and experiences in sport and as a PE teacher and identifies what support deaf and hard of hearing people need to access sport confidently. The article also highlights the key points of awareness that can help develop coaches to be more successful communicators. You can read the tips with or without deaf people in mind. After all being a good coach is all about being a good communicator.
Every deaf person is different in terms of the type and degree of their hearing impairment so there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. When you are coaching people with hearing impairments coach the individual. Find out what works best for both of you. Differentiate. Isn’t that what good coaches do?