By Bo Hanson – 4x Olympian, Coaching Consultant & Director of Athlete Assessments

The four different DISC sport coaching styles are discussed in the article “Understanding and Using the Four Coaching Styles” and this article is dedicated to the Influencing Sport Coaching Style. Here is a summary of the Influencing Sport Coaching Style (“I Style” Coach):

  • An “I Style” Coach delivers encouragement, brings energy, is highly interactive and provides motivation to their athletes.
  • The athlete requires low technical instruction but has high relationship/motivational needs.
  • I Style coaching works well with athletes who are displaying correct skills and technique but require more supportive and encouraging coaching to help them feel confident about their sporting performance.
  • Examples of situations when the I Style of coaching is appropriate are when the environment needs a burst of energy or to provide variety, the situation calls for a highly motivational pep-talk or half-time speech or when morale is low but athletes’ skill levels are high.

If you are using the Influencing Sport Coaching Style, you will find yourself supporting your athlete’s efforts towards their technical development. The way the Influencing Style does this is through positive encouragement and praise of your athlete, as well as greater sharing of the decision making and in particular, less direct technical content and guidance. Less time is spent directing your athlete’s technical behavior. The Influencing Style is not autocratic, but rather involves working together and discussing the direction to take.

Who to Use the Influencing Style with

The Influencing Style works well with athletes who are displaying correct skills and technique and require more supportive and encouraging coaching to help them feel confident about their performance. This means you should provide less direction on their technical development, but use more emotional support, encouragement and praise. In situations where your skilled athlete stumbles during a competition or practice, it can be more useful to support and encourage them than to direct their technique. Building their self-belief becomes agreater priority than addressing a skill deficiency. When they have recovered their belief, you are more likely to gain better outcomes when giving follow up directive technical advice.

Or another example, when a team is performing poorly in the first half of a football match, it is the Influencing Style of coaching which serves you best. Often the root cause of poor performance is not that your athletes have forgotten how to perform their skills. What they need is not a reinforcement of the skills they already know, for example passing drills won’t help at half timeIt is the emotional support and encouragement, which brings out their best performance. Too much technical information and direction at the wrong time and your athletes will tune out.

I Style Coaches – Watch out for…

If your athlete needs an Influencing Style of coaching, watch out for when problems arise in their training. To effectively use the Influencing Style, a coach would not instantly jump in and solve the problem for the athlete by giving direction and being dominant with your style. Instead, they would discuss possible solutions with them, provide encouragement on what is working and ask questions to see if they could draw the athlete into finding a solution on their own, at the same time being aware of their emotional state staying positive.

Where to from here?

The CoachDISC is the only sport specific tool available for identifying what your preferred coaching style is. Without this tool, one can learn about their style from the observation of experienced coaches or by video taping your coaching and looking for evidence of your preferred communication and coaching style.

Once you are aware of your sport coaching style, it becomes easier for you to add into your coaching practice the aspects that your natural coaching style may lack but your athletes still require.

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