The complex problem-solving competence of team coaches
ABSTRACT ObjectivesThe complexity and dynamics of team sports places high information-processing demands on coaches. They can meet these demands by applying either domain-specific or domain-unspecific problem-solving strategies.MethodThe first phase of this study used a domain-unspecific computer-simulated scenario (“heating oil company” [Hasselmann, D., & Strauss, B. (1993). Herausforderung Komplexität: Baustein 1 (HEIZÖLHANDEL) [The challenge of complexity: Building block 1 (heating oil company)]. Hamburg, Germany: Windmühle]) to measure domain-unspecific complex problem-solving strategies in 38 top-league coaches (first or second German national league in team handball or basketball) and 43 local-league coaches.ResultsResults showed that top-league coaches exhibited better problem-solving performance than lower-league coaches in an unspecific domain. The second phase recorded the real-life coaching behavior of some of these coaches 6 months later during competitions and analyzed the content of their utterances. The main findings were that top-league coaches (n=14) made fewer utterances in competitions, but gave relatively more concrete instructions compared with lower-league coaches (n=13). Top-league coaches also criticized and motivated their players more frequently during play. Comparing intervention behavior across the two settings (computer-simulated scenario vs. competition) disclosed some general problem-solving strategies (e.g., number of motivating utterances, strength of interventions).ConclusionIt is concluded that the achievement of sports coaches depends at least in part on their domain-general, complex problem-solving competence.