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Strategies for Sustaining Behaviour Change | Coaching Adults

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Posted in: Understanding Behaviour Change

Strategies for Sustaining Behaviour Change

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  • astatham

    I'm interested in finding out how coaches influence behaviour change in participants based on the following areas:

    - understanding motivations of participants 

    - goal setting that looks to celebrate achievement

    - building confidence

    - peak end rule/theory

    any practical or underpinning theory as to how coaches go about this would be really appreciated. 



  • saranicolehilton

    Hi Anthony.

    This is such an important element of coaching! For me, as a sport science graduate with emphasis on sport psychology, text books and theories can all look great on paper but they mean absolutely nothing if you do not try to get to know your players first. What may work for one, might not work for the other. An example of this would be if a player makes a mistake in training/game - now for certain individuals I know I can be quite abrupt when correcting them and this will motivate them. However, if I were to use this approach with other players it would crush them and destroy their confidence. Therefore, getting to know the different personalities of the group is important.

    Peak end theory is a great tool in development and also great to enhance confidence in individuals and groups. By using this theory, you can highlight an important time/period of the game which might have been really positive, thus developing their self-efficacy as well.

    As you've stated 'celebrate achievement'. If you are looking to enhance the confidence of the group, you may put them in a practice whereby they have a lot of success i.e. use rules & conditions you know they will achieve.

    In summary, I think using targets/goals and different tools to increase confidence etc. in players is great. However, a coach really needs to get to know their personalities first. After all, they are people as well as players!


  • skitson

    Understanding the individual and their motivations is important and probably needs to take place before you truly impact the individual with goal setting and developing confidence. For me a build up of trust and respect both ways needs to be established. Taking the time to talk with participants before, during and after a session is vital and it doesn't always have to be about sport. The more you understand about the values and beliefs of a person the more you can begin to effect them positively with regards to developing goals and building confidence.

    The trust and respect that is established will provide you the power and an opportunity to take those next steps. This power could be information, a position of authority, being perceived as an expert, using praise and scold and possibly most importantly being considered as someone not just a coach but a friend. Human interaction is embedded throughout the coaching process.

    I leave you with this nice quote from an elite coach.  “Unless people are willing to listen to you, unless you’re prepared to listen to them and understand them as people, the best coaching book in the world isn’t going to help you. It all comes down to how well they really want to do for you. It all comes back to the relationships that you have with your players and the trust that exists between you. That’s just life.” 

  • astatham

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for the thoughts, really interesting. The underlying key for success in my opinion an increase in confidence, either in self-efficacy or self-worth (depending on individiual motivations) to either join/continue to participate in a chosen sport or to increase competence.

    I am really interested to explore the peak end theory and see how other coaches use this within their sessions.

    Thanks again,



  • astatham

    Great points Sion and relationship building is absolutely key in firstly identifying individuals motivations and behaviours. Outside of the elite talent environment, how many coaches do you think understand the needs of individuals within group sessions? Or is a session more around the coaches own behaviours and motivations?  

  • LizBurkinshaw

    I couldnt agree more with 'get to know your players first' If coaches did this and build strong connections to poeple then a lot of the other stuff falls into place more easily 

  • skitson

    I think your last question hits the nail on the head to some extent. Outside the talent arena I think some coaches do concentrate on their own motivations i.e. I must deliver this content at all costs to improve my athletes and myself. Bit of an exaggeration but in my own coaching when I first started out all I really focused on was the content I wanted to deliver. I pretty much forgot who I was delivering to. Fortunately, I have been exposed to a lot of coaching, coach education and support and I do take the time to understand my participants but I imagine you are right, many probably forget this aspect. The interesting bit is if they did take the time it would probably improve content delivery, participant engagement and improve them as a coach.

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