Coaching Under PressureStress factors in coaching, from elite to collegiate.
Burnout Coaching under stressful conditions can lead to burnout. 35% of coaches in USA Swimming stop coaching each year (Raedeke, 2004) In world class sport, coaching is a stressful job, many studies look at the increasing amount of stress associated with elite sports coaching. Most coaches that are vulnerable to burnout and stress leave the profession before reaching the elite level (Hjalm et. Al, 2007)
Stressors In an ever changing environment, which is often results orientated, coaches are exposed to many pressures. Whatever else changes, coaches and coaching will remain at the heart of sporting performance at every level.(UK Vision of Coaching, n.d., p.2) In one study of UK sports coaches at a world class level, the main stressors identified included Conflict, Pressure and Expectation, managing the competitive environment, athlete concerns, and sacrifice of personal time.
Stressors These were broken down into lower order themes, such as management cohesion (lack of communication with management), interference (from outside influences, parents), Self-imposed pressures, and outcome pressure sourced from a growing “Blame the Coach” culture (Olusoga et. Al, 2009) A coach must perform many roles for an athlete, they can be called on to be a mentor, counsellor, assessor, instructor, educator and a friend (Lyle, 2002)
Stressors Most literature regarding athlete stress cites coaches as stressors to athletes, but the findings of this study by Olusoga et al, suggests that the relationship between the coach-athlete is mutually stressful for both parties. „Chaotic Lifestyle‟ – travelling, long and undefined hours cited as causes of stress in coaches (Surujlal, J. & Nguyen, S., 2011)
Burnout It appears that some coaches are either not prepared psychologically to handle defeat, or that the demands of handling such a defeat are a source of burnout (Hjalm et. Al, 2007) This brings up the necessity for support for coaches, and development of strategies to cope with stress.
Coping Strategies In a study of South African soccer coaches (Surujlal, J. & Nguyen, S., 2011) the coping strategies employed were Maladaptive (5.68% of sample), Emotion Management (51.47% of coaches), and Problem Management (most coaches) This study also suggested that stress management and the considerations of resources should be allocated to match the level of responsibilities, to nurture and maintain a healthy workforce.
Preventing Burnout It is believed that early education on coping strategies will provide the correct tools to reduce the occurrence of burnout. If methods of managing stress and problem-solving are integrated into their formal education as coaches, there is less chance of burnout as they are able to deal with their stressors without it taking a high toll on them individually.
References Fletcher, D. and M. Scott (2010). "Psychological stress in sports coaches : A review of concepts, research, and practice." Journal of Sports Sciences28(2): 127-137. Hjalm, S., G. Kentta, et al. (2007). "Burnout among elite soccer coaches." Journal of Sport Behavior30(4): 415-428. Lyle, J. (2002). Sports coaching concepts: A framework for coaches‟ behaviours. London: Routledge. Olusoga, P., J. Butt, et al. (2009). "Stress in Elite Sports Coaching: Identifying Stressors." Journal of Applied Sport Psychology21: 442-459. Olusoga, P., I. Maynard, et al. (2011). "Coaching under pressure: A study of Olympic coaches." Journal of Sports Sciences30(3): 229-239. Raedeke, T. D. (2004). "Coach Committment and Burnout: A One-Year Follow-Up." Journal of Applied Sport Psychology16: 333-349. Surujlal, J. & Nguyen, S., 2011, „Coping under pressure: Strategies for maintaining confidence amongst South African soccer coaches‟, Health SA Gesondheid 16(1), Art. #537, 7 pages. doi:10.4102/ hsag.v16i1.537