Canadian Journal for Women in Coaching
OCTOBER 2009 FEATURE
Building an Effective Coach–Athlete Relationship:
Perspectives from Great Female Coaches and Athletes
by Penny Werthner
Following the 2008 summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China, a study was undertaken to analyse the Canadian performances. The review process was initiated and funded by Own the Podium*, and the primary objective was to identify, from both the athletes’ and the coaches’ perspectives, the key factors that contributed to a successful performance or, in some cases, an underperformance at the Games. In total, 27 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and 30 coaches were interviewed. From the analysis of the 27 athlete interviews, five key themes were developed: the development, over time, of a high degree of athlete self-awareness; the importance of a strong coach–athlete relationship; the creation of an optimal training environment; the creation of a strong support system, from both financial and human resource perspectives; and excellent management of the Olympic environment, primarily by the coach and athlete, often with help from the high performance director and others, such as consultants in sport psychology and exercise physiology.
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