I recently had the opportunity of watching a soccer match between two local teams. Te Young Christians F.C from my local church was one of the teams. This team is known locally for the prowess its players have in the field. The second team comprised of visitors from a youth group found in a town several miles away. The match took place in a football field which happened to be the training grounds for the local high school. The football match was marked by sportsmanship and fair play with the teams surpassing the expectations I had.. Coaches from both sides were observed encouraging the different players through actions that portrayed behavior he expected the team to show. The stands were full with many spectators having decided to come and cheer up their respective teams to ensure they gave them moral support necessary for the team’s success. The coaches from both teams were well seasoned and had good past experiences gathered from years of successful team training. They had actually been involved in coaching several local teams making them the best in the area (Hargreaves & Bate, 2009).
The soccer coaches for the two teams actually had to actively involve themselves in soccer action even though they were not part of the active soccer team. It is actually imperative that soccer coaches have to develop passion for the game and actively involve themselves albeit from the sidelines in any important soccer match. This they do by directing the players from the sidelines after thoroughly analyzing the opponent team’s tactics and overall game play. Behavior presented by coaches for this two teams aimed at either motivating, guiding or reprimanding the athletes in the field. This is attributable to the fact that coaches are actually responsible for the outcomes of the different soccer matches, a condition that often places too much pressure on them resulting in behavior that spectators tend to view as highly reactive as was the case in the match I witnessed (Hargreaves & Bate, 2009).
In order to identify coaching behavior in action, I had to devote time and observe the football match introduced above. This gave me the chance to witness different behaviors presented by the coach in relation to the way his players handled the ball game. Behaviors identified tended to have the implications of motivating the players, disciplining them, introducing warnings and simply directing them on the actions and strategies to use. All this actions were accompanied by numerous physical gestures which the team members seemed to understand well. Voice was also used as a reinforcement to the various actions witnessed (Luce, 2005). During the match, behavior that was found to be most common was instruction based on technicalities which was mainly introduced in the form of hand gestures and voice. The coach for instance was heard shouting “nice tackle” to a player who had successfully tackled two players and gone ahead to pass the ball successfully to another teammate. The coach was also heard shouting “nice play” to a player who has successfully run into the opposing team’s side thereby showing perfect offensive behavior. These positive reinforcement messages were found to be directional and aimed at specific individuals who portrayed excellent sportsmanship behavior. Both positive and negative reinforcement behavior was also identified with the coach actively introducing aspects of motivation. This was done by clapping and shouting as well as actively running along the length of the field to encourage players who were running after the ball. The coach was actually so engrossed in the game that it was difficult to distinguish between players and the coach in general. The coach was also actively found to be motivating players on occasions where they happened to lose opportunities to score and this actually seemed to introduce effects of motivation to the team as failed opportunities actually led to more tries. Negative responses were associated to non reinforcement with positive behavior from the team eliciting positive reinforcement from the coach. Occasions marked with no response were also identified during the game play. Positive reinforcement was observed a total of 33 times with non reinforcement been viewed a total of 47 times. Non reinforcement behavior was therefore viewed 14 times more than the positive reinforcement behavior. Another behavior witnessed was actually corrective in nature and it was provided in line with reaction to mistakes (Luce, 2005). During the half time break, I managed to get close to the tea and overheard the coach make use of deterrents by issuing warnings to players he felt were not giving all they had in the game. Punishments were to follow later with these taking the form of substitutions introduced to replace players who seemed reluctant to perform well. Mistakes were reacted to by use of gestures such as hands dropped to the side and voice communication with an example being shouting to individuals to continue with the fight for the ball where an individual was found to be playing without energy and drive. The coach offered general instructions for at least 14% of the 90 minutes of play. Encouragement was found to occur at least 3% of the time.
Behaviors from the coach can be summarized into four categories which are:
Positive reinforcement (P.R) 33
Non reinforcement (NRE) 47
Punishment (P) 2
Negative reinforcement (N.R)
Meaningful change in the different behaviors was witnessed with different behaviors been found to have different applications and eliciting different responses in the team. An example of meaningful application and change was witnessed where positive reinforcement behavior was applied (Susan, 1987). This as mentioned earlier was introduced by making use of gestures and actions that indicated good sportsmanship was in practice for instance where a team effectively and successfully defended against the opponents resulting in change in the general trend of the game. This was also witnessed where the coach congratulated a player on playing well. Positive reinforcement actions were witnessed for most part of the game with a total of 33 instances observed. Motivation was tied in with the positive reinforcement with numerous remarks being heard all pointing towards encouraging the team (Susan, 1987). Punishment was meted out on two occasions with the same taking the form of substitutions. Negative reinforcement was also observed where the coach sneered at players who constantly made mistakes. Positive reinforcement as indicated on the graph was successfully introduced by the coach with a total of 33 hits identified. The number of times this was portrayed was more than the number stated however I decided to make use of the events that were quite serious leaving out minor occurrences of reinforcement actions. Motivation was found to be the second most used behavior by the coach therefore the many instances of application recorded. Punishment was meted out only on two occasions with negative reinforcement both by use of voice and expressions took place even fewer times.
Motivation and Performance
The behaviors above were mainly aimed at introducing positive feedback from the team by encouraging results in line with winning the match. The behavior presented by the coach made it clear that the team was accustomed to his way of communication as each behavior was responded to instruction positively and as expected based on the behavioral category. This for instance highlights behavior in the team in cases where the coach motivated them to actively defend or simply pass the ball more freely (Pierro & McGahey, 2003). Overall, instructions based on behavior were found to be effective as motivators to the team with increase in performance where the coach implied he needed a boost in the same. For instance, by running along the length of the field, the coach motivated a player with the ball to forge forwards towards the opponents side. Punishment and deterrence in terms of warnings and substitutions also worked well showing successful instruction and authority on the part of the coach and responsiveness in the players. Overall, the application of the different behaviors was found to be effective in ensuring that the players were kept on their toes throughout the session.