Racket and team activities

What factors contribute to making a good leader and how might you style of leadership vary to be successful when involved in individual, racket and team activities? To fully answer this question I am going to answer it in two parts, firstly I am going to identify what factors contribute to making a good leader and secondly I am going to suggest how styles of leadership may vary in individual, racket and team activities.

Making a good leader. There are many factors that can contribute to becoming a good leader. A leader will need to adapt to situations and adjust accordingly. A change in circumstances or situations calls for a different type of leader. Each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. A leader of a football team must be more dominant or task centered than say a tennis coach who would need to develop a more personal or relationship-centered.

The advantage of this type of leader or an “autocratic” leader is that tasks are more easily set out and completed thoroughly. A leader of any team will need to also have some kind of personal leadership qualities whilst retaining some dominance. An individual leader or coach will need to also have a strict and task centered side to them or there will be no path or direction to follow. Person-centered leadership is a more personal style of leadership and sometimes also known as democratic. They are leaders that are more suited to an individual or racket sports or those with few players on a team e.g. a boxing trainer might get to know a boxer well and can therefore know that for him/her to win they need a “kick start” or they need a quiet talking to.

An advantage of this is that a leader gets to know the players on a more personal level and then they can coach or lead them in the correct manner. A disadvantage could also be that rest of the team/other players might see the coach/leader as a “soft touch”. There is also another style called laissez-faire which the leader lets the group is allowed to get on with its task without any guidance unless asked for or obvious problems arise. e.g. in football a captain may let the team carry on playing if playing well or tell players what to do if not. (Physical education and the study of sport, Mosby, 0723431752, pg 405)

It is possible to adopt a style that includes all three of the above styles to become a good leader However there are other factors that influence the effectiveness of a good leader. Leader characteristics are the things like the leaders own personal qualities and styles of people management which may vary e.g. Roy Keane and Nassa Hussein. Both were successful in football and cricket but bother with completely different styles, one adopted a dominant task centered persona, while the other was a more calm person-centered leader. These differences come with their personalities.

The situation may influence the way a leader behaves go if a tennis players is loosing to a good player then a coach or instructor may have to give advice and encourage the player, however if the person is loosing on personal mistakes, then the coach or instructor would have to take a more hard-line approach and explain how and where he is going wrong The membership characteristics of a team will influence how well the leader does at his/her job. The ‘members’ may have a preferred leadership style or some expectations of their leader, e.g. a netball team may want their captain to tell them what’s going wrong and how to improve, where as a football team may want someone who is going to lead by example. This may also vary depending on the score and the time left in a match.

Leadership Variation in sports

Leadership varies depending on what sport is being played. For example if a sport is being played is a team sport and then the style of leadership will vary. There may be a leadership influence from more than one source. There might be an emergent leader from a squad, who has imposed himself on the team as the foremost figure. He might lead by example and be task-centered almost as a player to watch and follow. A good example of this is Roy Keane. He tells people exactly what to do and criticizes the team when it’s underperforming.

If the sport however is something more like a racket sport, for example tennis, then the style would need to change and become more personal and relationship-centered so that they can develop a better understanding and they can then work better together to achieve better results. This is similar with individual sports, although they will need to be slightly more task centered for someone like a swimmer to keep them on course an stick to the training regime. (www.fullrangeleadership.com/content/leadership1, Free Range Leadership, 2002)

Not only will it need to change suit the specific user it will also need to change on the level of the performers in individual and racket sports. For example if the performers are at a higher level e.g. an elite swimmer then they are likely to employ a more laissez-faire direction of leadership because of the freedom it employs however at a younger age and or less experienced athletes the leadership style is more likely to be task centered as they will get tasks completed and will learn more but they will need to have some kind of personal note in their teaching and leadership at events. (Complete Physical Education 0174536578 Heineman pg. 67)

So to sum up, leadership is likely to change depending on situations and scenarios. Team sports are more likely to have an emergent leader as someone to look up to, individual and racket sport players are more likely to have a prescribed (appointed) leader who is more likely to be personal and relationship-centered. To tailor to the individuals needs. The style of a leader may have to change depending on game situations depending on scores and positions. A team leader may need to change tact and encourage individual players rather than tell them off. Similarly individuals leaders will also need to take control and task centered if problems arise e.g. in a badminton match if a person is loosing they may need to be told what else to do to win.


Physical Education and the Study of Sport 0723431752 Mosby pg.404-407 Complete Physical Education 0174536578 Heineman pg. 67 www.bbc.co.uk