In competitive sport, the difference between being a world champion or ranked fifth in the world can be as little as 1%. The margins of greatness and mediocrity are minimal and thus every element for improvement counts in the context of competitive sport. Succeeding in such an uncertain and intensely contested sporting environment demands great relationship and communication skills.

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Tandem supports coaches and athletes to successfully engage with one another. Its aim is to make coaches and athletes aware of current patterns of interpersonal behaviours, intentions and attitudes while encourage them to reflect on alternative ways of relating and influencing that are more effective and flexible. Tandem is an evidence-based tool that has diagnostic, prognostic and educational purposes. It is developed with the coach and athlete in mind who wish to build such successful working partnerships as these developed by Toni Minichiello and Jessica Ennis-Hill, Bob Bowman and Michael Phelps, Sharon Hannon and Sally Pearson, Alex Ferguson and Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Weiss and his Olympic hockey teams.

To thrive, coaches and athlete need relationship-building skills more than ever.

Why should you use Tandem? 

• Enhances self-awareness

• Develops appreciation of the other relationship member’s points of view

• Improves ability to engage with one another and thus capacity to influence

• Helps confidence and motivation

• Increases understanding of what needs doing to make the relationship more effective

Sport Benefits 

• Minimise the impact on sport performance (including performance slumps, burnout, injury, dropout etc) in that relationships that go wrong, cost in time, money and stress

• Develop coaches and athletes with the capacity to successfully influence and engage one another, leads to more effective relationships that drive performance

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Coaches: How to relate and communicate effectively with your athletes? Interpersonal relations within the context of competitive sport (and outside it too) serve a critical role in the development and maintenance of trust and positive feelings. Although the quality of interpersonal relationships alone is not enough to produce success, it can significantly contribute to it.

An effective coach needs to abstain from showing favouritism to some or being aloof or disinterest to others or to make decisions that are not agreed or discussed or indeed make no decisions at all; needs to show concern for athletes without appearing to interfere; and need to avoid misusing power that often comes with his/her coaching role. In fulfilling roles and responsibilities, coaches need to strike the right note in their interpersonal relations with each one athlete in the team or squad. Coaches must be approachable and friendly, yet fair and firm.

Tandem incorporates basic concepts of human interaction as they affect coaches and athletes in particular. Trying and tested Tandem offers a way to assess relationships, identify strengths and weaknesses and advice a course of action for better, stronger, more effective and successful sporting partnerships. Tandem empowers coaches to acknowledge the coach-athlete relationship as an important medium that allows both the coach and the athlete to fulfil their performance goals.

What’s next? 

We are planning Tandem seminar/workshops in September/October 2015 so look out for further announcements on the website. The aim of these seminars/workshops will be to highlight the theory, research and practice behind Tandem. An opportunity to try Tandem for yourself and experience the various ways it can be used will also be offered. The seminars will target predominantly coaches and coach educators, psychology consultants (both qualified and in training) as well as athletes.

Contact: Sophia Jowett, Reader in Sport Psychology 

Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University 

Lead developer, Tandem

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