As a coach it is important to consider the impression that you give off. This will vary depending on the level and age group you coach at. If you are a grass roots youth coach, the chances are you will be placed under the most scrutiny by the players parents more than anyone else.
Whereas if you are an elite level senior coach, you will under constant media scrutiny, and even outside of your job you will have to show a good impression of yourself. So for coaches at this level, they may have to make more of a positive impression on people who aren’t even based within their club or organization. They will also have to make a good impression to any stakeholders in the club such as sponsors, as any negative attention can often see sponsors back away from supporting a club or team.
As a base image, I feel it is always important to look professional when coaching. I always make a conscious effort to wear a tracksuit and football boots when coaching. These are only small details however it promotes an image to parents and also the children that you take the sport seriously, and take coaching seriously.
The image I like to give off when coaching will vary from age to age. I feel with the much younger children I have coached, it is important to be seen as approachable and not too serious. Some children at the age of 7-8 aren’t there necessarily because they want to be, but because their parents want you to babysit. For this reason I attempt to come across as a more laid back coach to try and encourage those children to get involved. When coaching older children around secondary school age, I attempt to become more authoritative as these children usually are there because they want to be there, but also because they have a habit of zoning out now and again. Therefore the tone I would use would be far more assertive than my tone when coaching the 7-8 year olds.
When coaching my sessions I attempt to try and look in control and organised to the best of my ability. As Goffmann states there is a division where we have a backstage where everything could be chaos, but we present the on stage version of events that appear to be controlled. I feel this is something I attempt, although my session may seem like it may be progressing to the outside, in my mind I am constantly thinking about what could be corrected.
I’ve been lucky enough to observe UEFA A/B coaches first hand and to see how they coach, and how they interact. I have noticed a contrast between how they act when the players are not around, and how the act when they are. Recently, I saw a coach on a U13’s Category 1 side refuse to shake the hand of the opposition coach after the game got heated. As this was away from the players, I don’t think the coach thought the players would see, however they did, and clocked onto this straight away. I believe that if that encounter had taken place 5 yards away from the players rather than the other end of the pitch that the coach would have shaken the other coaches hand. I understand exactly why he didn’t shake his opponents hand, however at a professional club it is important to set an impression to the players you are developing, otherwise they believe this type of conduct can be acceptable. Another noticeable difference through the age groups is the use of language. Up until about U15/16 level coaches tend to be a bit more reserved in their language, especially when it comes to criticism, however above that age, coaches will swear a lot more regularly as they know the lads need to hear that sometimes to get a reaction.
I believe there is always room for improvement with coaching, I have done a few coaching qualifications through the FA, and so far their main criticism of myself was never to do with the impression I gave to the participants. I have been praised in my feedback as well for the technical delivery of sessions, however I have been told that I should increase the intensity of my sessions. I feel that I may be too nice at times in my sessions, and I possibly need to show myself as being more assertive in future. This I believe though could be to do with a lack of self confidence and that I’m worried I will mess up my session. And as Schlenker says “You never get a chance to make a first impression.” I think this weighs in my mind too often at times and is the reason I am too easy on my participants.
Schlenker, B. (1980). Impression management. The self-concept, social identity and interpersonal relations. 1st ed.
Goffman, E. (2007). The presentation of self in everyday life. 1st ed. [S.l.]: Academic Internet Publishers Incorporated.