Coaching is often viewed as the context within coaches operate to bring about changes in athlete’s performance and well-being1. One factor effecting sport’s performance is the coach-athlete relationship2. The best way to go about explaining this coach-athlete relationship and identifying factors associated with it is to base this blog post around Dr. Sophia Jowett’s research, the 3 Cs Model and the 11-item Coach-Athlete Relationship Questionnaire (CART-Q)3,4. Jowett and colleagues started their investigations by defining this unique relationship as the situation in which coaches’ and athletes’ emotions, thoughts, and behaviours are mutually and causally interconnected4. (Cover photo Source: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Europe).
The 3 Cs Model
There are three key constructs to examining the coach-athlete relationship according to Jowett – Closeness, Commitment and Complementarity. These constructs are used to define coaches’ and athletes’ emotions, thoughts and behaviours respectively. Closeness can be referred to as being emotionally close with your coach/ athlete, this could present itself in feelings such as being cared for and trusting one another. Commitment highlights the coach and athlete’s goals and beliefs, for example, a common alignment of purpose in the training approach. This is established through good communication within the relationship. Commitment can, therefore, be viewed as co-ordination between the coach and athlete. This shared understanding of the process allows coaches and athletes to respond appropriately and with empathy to each other’s needs. Complementarity reflects the co-operation between coach and athlete, this could present itself in feedback of the training process and in many other avenues. A good complementarity construct is key in facilitating peak performance.
The Coach-Athlete Relationship Questionnaire (CART-Q)
So, how can we rate and observe these three key constructs of the coach-athlete relationship? The 11-item CART-Q questionnaire (see below) has been developed to do just that! Coaches and athletes take this questionnaire rating each response on a scale of 1 (Not-at-all) to 7 (Extremely) with a mid-point 4 (I’ve attached the questionnaire in excel format if you would like to download and print). Essentially the higher the cumulative score the higher these aspects of closeness, commitment and complementarity are experienced by you the coach or athlete. You can use this questionnaire to have an overarching look at your relationship, but, you may also use it to single out points that perhaps need to be worked on. For example, your closeness with your athlete/coach may score a perfect 7 in all domains but when you observe your commitment there may be areas for improvement! It is also interesting to see the differing opinions between you and the athlete/ coach you work with.
|The Coach-Athlete Relationship Questionnaire|
|1||I feel close to my athlete/coach|
|2||I feel committed to my athlete/coach|
|3||I feel that my sport career is promising with my athlete/coach|
|4||I like my athlete/coach|
|5||I trust my athlete/coach|
|6||I respect my athlete/coach|
|7||. I feel appreciation for the sacrifices my athlete/coach has experienced in order to improve his/her performance|
|8||When I coach my athlete/When I am coached by my coach, I feel at ease|
|9||When I coach my athlete/When I am coached by my coach, I feel responsive to his/her efforts|
|10||When I coach my athlete/When I am coached by my coach, I am ready to do my best|
|11||When I coach my athlete/When I am coached by my coach, I adopt a friendly stance|
3 Tips to An Effect Coach-Athlete Relationship
Obviously as a coach/ athlete you must find the best path for your relationship to work – every athlete is unique from their training response to their response to feedback likewise every coach is unique from their methodology to their style. It is true that some relationships just do not work, therefore, each party involved needs to take a step back and do what is right for each other! This aside here are some overarching tips to a good coach-athlete relationship.
- Communication, communication, communication – this works both ways tell your coach anything you feel necessary to your performance and enjoyment of the coaching process. Coaches likewise communicate the goals of training sessions, approaches, feedback etc.
- Know your audience – coach to the level you’re at and athletes, learn to walk before you run. Don’t go for the apparent marginal gains when the gains that make up 95% of performance are forgotten.
- Respect – respect each other’s time, respect each-others values and beliefs and have respect for the process. Don’t expect immediate results, but question approaches in a constructive manner. We’re all here to learn and coaches/ athletes just want the best for each other, don’t loose sight of that.
1.Jowett, S. (2017). Coaching effectiveness: the coach–athlete relationship at its heart. Current Opinion in Psychology, 16, 154-158.
2.Serpa, S. O. D. C. (1999). Relationship coach-athlete: outstanding trends in European research. Motricidade humana: portuguese journal of human performances studies, 7-19.
3.Jowett, S., & Meek, G. A. (2000). The coach-athlete relationship in married couples: An exploratory content analysis. The Sport Psychologist, 14(2), 157-175.
4.Jowett, S., & Ntoumanis, N. (2004). The coach–athlete relationship questionnaire (CART‐Q): Development and initial validation. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 14(4), 245-257.