Provide steady, flexible leadership and management during competition

The coach advises, strategizes and leads during competition to act as an external cognitive and emotional guide for competing athletes. This may involve calling plays, assessing the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, or making strategic/tactical changes in game play.

Coaches also keep a longer view during competition, ensuring that overall development and health are not compromised for competitive outcome. The coach regulates his/her tone, body language, and use of language during competition in response to athlete and team needs. Those needs may vary between individuals, from competition to competition, and even moment to moment in competition–ranging from exhorting and motivating, to calming and soothing depending on what is called for.

The coach also regulates his/her language and tone to interact professionally and appropriately with officials, spectators, and assistants.


Video Resources

All of the resources below provide examples of best practices in competition management. These examples are both thought-provoking and motivational. 

These video examples illustrate different in-game coaching behaviors during a Division I volleyball game. In the first clip we see the head coach address the team during a time out. The first part of the message is focused on tactics based on the in-game analysis of the opposing team. The second part of the message, puts in perspective the values important to the coach and the team.

As the game continues, and the players are playing better and winning by a larger margin, Head Coach decides to make changes to the line up to incorporate some of the players from the bench into the game. Note that not only does he let the athletes know about the changes, but also provides a detailed explanation. 

The final video, this time from an ultimate competition, is a great example of how the coaching staff, athletic trainer and the teams handle an injury in the midst of competition.  All players display a high degree of sportsmanship when supporting an injured player and staff follows the safety and injury assessment protocol. The head coach is not explicitly dictating the course of actions, but is rather following the protocol that is already in place to insure the safety of the athletes on the field and facilitating discussion between the players involved in the accident in order to avoid similar situations in the future. 



What Drives Winning - this website offers an extensive collection of short videos and other materials featuring some of the most successful coaches at the collegiate and professional levels who share insights and reflect on their coaching philosophies, competition, character development through sport, and other topics related to coaching education. These clips illustrate specific aspects/coaching behaviors within the Core Practice of Competition Management:

  • This video is an excellent example of intentionality and self-management on the part of the head coach during the final moments of a high level college basketball game. It also puts in perspective the importance of learning and focusing on growth over winning and results.

  • This video, from a NCAA Head Women’s Soccer Coach, is another excellent example of how a coach takes a less directive role during the competition and uses different tools to create awareness among the players on the bench during the game. (It was also a great observational and learning tool for the Coach).

I’ve Got Your Back: Coaching Top Performers From Center Court To The Corner Office by Brad Gilbert with James Kaplan, 2004 

This book offers a perspective on coaching two former #1 tennis players in the world, Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi, during their time on the professional tour. Notably, coaching is not allowed in men’s tennis during the competition, however, the coach is present during the match. Competition management in tennis is very relational and relies heavily on the nature of pre and post-competition interactions. The coach, Brad Gilbert, finds ways to manage different aspects related to competitive performance in a sport that has tournaments almost every week throughout the year. If tennis is not your sport, this book is still a great tool for those who want to help people reach their top potential and for coaches in other sports who have less interaction with athletes during competition.