Emotional intelligence is a popular construct associated to business, education, health and more recently sport. There is clear evidence to substantiate that emotional intelligence is beneficial for performance. A number of characteristics associated to emotional intelligence include, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. The purpose of this article demonstrates how emotional intelligence can be useful for sports coaches.
The concept of self-awareness alludes to being aware of the situation around you and thinking beyond. Thinking beyond could also be termed ‘thinking outside the box.’ Coaches who wish to enhance their performance levels must be self-aware. Self-awareness alludes to emotion of oneself. A good coach will be in control of their emotions and demonstrate a great deal of awareness of their performers. Developing self-awareness can occur for coaches through a range of possibilities. For example, during selection coaches should be aware of the emotions that are portrayed by performers. Performers who are selected will portray different emotions against those that are not selected. Therefore, the coach must be self-aware of the fluctuating emotions performers portray during this time and be ready to address and issues.
The ability to self-regulate is useful for successful coaches. Self-regulation is the ability to maintain control during pressurised situations. These situations normally arise during competitive match situations, but can also occur at training sessions. Effective self-regulation promotes balance between body and mind. One useful strategy to help develop effective self-regulation is through the practice of reflection. There are many occasions that require a coach to regulate their emotions. Examples include, selecting teams and tactics, the use of training drills, the team talk, deciding of substitutions and the end outcome. Therefore, enhancing self-regulation techniques allows coaches to evolve within their practices.
Motivation is considered to be a major characteristic of a good coach. Motivation is an inner desire to achieve objectives that are set out, for example when carrying out coaching sessions. Maintaining motivation as a coach and of your performers is instrumental. Therefore, introduce action plans for all your performers. These actions should be set out as specific short-term targets throughout the season.
A coach high in emotional intelligence will understand their own performers and his/her own self. Building empathy is crucial as understanding needs of performers and making each individual feel part of the set-up is important. Team cohesion is most effective when performers all agree on the aims and objectives set out by the coach.
5) Social Skills
Social skills are unique to a coaches’ repertoire. Introduce social skills during group bonding exercises. A coach can support their team and foster effective group dynamics through social skills.
Taken together, emotional intelligence is a useful concept. The benefits of emotional intelligence are evidenced in other domains and hold exceptional opportunities for coaches to utilise within their own practices. Each characteristic of emotional intelligence is flexible and therefore can be used interchangeably.