Coach's contribution to coach-athlete interactions in powerlifting sport



PhD, Associate Professor G.M. Ljdokova1       
PhD, master of sports of Russia of international class K.R. Volkova1
Dr.Hab., Professor  A.I. Pianzin2
1Elabuga Institute of Kazan Federal University, Elabuga
2Yakovlev Chuvash State Pedagogical University, Cheboksary


Keywords: powerlifter, powerlifting, coach, athlete, coach-athlete interaction, sports activity.

Background. It is the coach-athlete interaction on the whole and its psychological and communicative background in particular that largely determine success of an athletic career. In contrast with team sports where athlete cooperates with the team members and coach on a multilateral basis, the individual sports like powerlifting are dominated by bilateral relationship with the highest contribution of the coach. Productive coach-athlete cooperation is pivotal for an athletic career in powerlifting, with the coach providing a foundation and motivations for the athletic progress and competitive successes by many things including psychological health assurance activity [6].

Coach’s role in the athletic progress is indisputable, particularly at the beginner stage of the athletic career when the athlete’s inexperience must be compensated by the coach’s knowledge and experience. Qualification of a powerlifter is directly determined by the coach’s qualification conditional on the coach’s contribution into the athletic career being active and determined. Therefore, coach’s policies and practices in the interpersonal relationship with the powerlifter deserve being studied and analysed in detail, and our study was designed to rank the coaching service elements by importance for the powerlifter.

Objective of the study was to rank the coaching service elements by their roles in athletic progress in powerlifting sport.

Methods and structure of the study. Subject to a questionnaire survey under the study were 60 16 to 34 year-old high-ranking (qualified Candidate Masters of Sports, Masters of Sports of Russia and World Class Masters of Sports of Russia) powerlifters (30 male and 30 female) with 2 to 14 years long sport records. The sample was considered convenient for further studies to analyse the coaching service elements in age-, gender-, qualification-specific and other formats.

We applied a questionnaire survey form of special design to rank different elements of the coach’s contribution to the powerlifeter’s progress. The form is new in the sense that it offers 13 classified service elements to test the coach’s role in the powerlifeter’s progress. The survey was timed to the interim period between two major events: Russian Classic Powerlifting Championship (December 24-27, 2015, Arzamas town) and the Russian Powerlifting Championship (March 15-20, 2016, Tyumen). The respondents were requested to rank the coaching service elements by the degrees of influence on their training and competitive performance using a 10-point scale. Effects of the coaching service elements on the powerlifters were rated by mean arithmetic values followed by the listed elements being ranked by priorities, with rank 1 marking the most and rank 13 the least effective service element.

The survey data was supported by a few other study methods including analysis of the research literature on the subject, monitoring and interviews.

Study results and discussion. Given in Table 1 hereunder are the questionnaire survey data presenting the ranked coaching service elements.

Table 1. Coaching service elements ranked by their effects on the powerlifter’s progress


Coaching service elements


Average score


Design the training schedule




Manage the training process




Explain the execution techniques




Assist in competitions




Apply a training method of his own design




Involve in your off-sport life (private, academic, professional)




Help in competitions (in warm-ups and prior to attempts)




Provide psychological support in the training and competitive processes




Demonstrate the lift performance techniques




Make resort to humour




Be strict in daily/ nutrition regimen of the training and competitive processes




Fairly rate my accomplishments and failures




Be sensitive to my individual situations (health, mood, life challenges etc.)



Analysis of the above data shows that most important, in the athletes’ opinion, is the practical help in competitions rated on average by 9.57 points. It should be noted that studies by Ljdokova et al [4, 5] have addressed the matters of concern to the powerlifting competitions. It is quite natural for any sport discipline that the coach tends to highly rate his own role in the competitive process that may be broken down into moral, technical and tactical support elements. The higher is the rank of the competitions the higher is the burden of responsibility on the coach and athlete. It should be noted that powerlifting sport is a strength-intensive discipline that exposes athletes to high risks of injuries, particularly in cases of erroneous performance techniques in the training or competitive process. It is common for the coaches in the powerlifting sport to personally assist their trainees in competitions in many aspects including calculations and management of weights for success, analyses of competitive situations, competitors’ strategies and abilities etc. Athletes are released of the weight control and management responsibility and all they need is to strictly perform the coach’s guidelines, with a special emphasis on the tactical performance and error preventing aspects of competition for success.

Ranked second by importance (9.09 points) on the list of the coaching service elements was the sensitivity to the athletes’ individual needs and conditions. Coach is not different from an educator in the sense that he must be both knowledgeable in theoretical issues with concern to sport psychology and athletic training and competitive processes and be able to effectively apply the knowledge in practice. An experienced and knowledgeable coach may always analyse and control the athlete’s mental status to take timely and effective corrective actions to prevent failures. Good coach knows how to motivate the trainee in the right moment to obtain the desired long- or short-term effect. Sometimes the coach must help the athlete reach a certain level fairly close to the absolute win only to test the individual fitness at a particular training stage and build up confidence in the athlete for further progress. Generally, coach needs to play a few roles depending on specific situations and individual needs and conditions of the trainees.

Ranked third by importance (9.05 points) on the list of the coaching service elements was the coach’s own training method. This aspect is natural and inalienable in any coaching career, and the high ranking of this item on the list is understandable. A coach must be highly innovative in his mission, be able to find and creatively apply the best developments in the sport models, methods and tactics. V.I. Rumyantseva and L.M. Ruybite [1] mentioned in this context: “Every action, effort and strive of the coach is somehow mirrored and fixed in memory and consciousness of the trainees shaping up their own responsible attitudes often copied from the professional and personal qualities and behavioural models of their coach”. Loy J.W. [5], having considered a variety of methodical aspects of the coaching service, offered a new cosmopolitism rate as a measure of the coach’s strive for personal contacts with the coaching process leaders and experts at home and abroad to find and apply new methods and tools in his own training system. We believe this aspect could be highly relevant for the powerlifting sport since it is still considered a relatively new discipline with its training methods and models still being underdeveloped.

Ranked third by importance (8.77 points) on the list of the coaching service elements was his assistance in competitions. This index fairly close to the number one ranked practical help in competitions. It is natural that any athlete is highly sensitive in the competitive process to every facilitating influence from outside and that is why a friendly and confident coach keeping his cool and demonstrating positive emotions may be so important for the athlete’s mindset and success. To provide such help, coach must be highly skilful and experienced in his own emotional balancing domain. In opinion of Husman B.F. et al [2], for instance, too high emotionality of the coach may be detrimental for the athletes’ performance in highly stressful competitive situations.

Ranked last in the top five items on the list of the coaching service elements is the athlete’s accomplishments and failures assessment (8.64 points). Individual failures and accomplishments have always been assessed and acknowledged as long as the mankind lives on the planet. Such fair performance analyses have always provided the grounds for individual progress and accomplishments, with failures being also productive in the sense that they help reject unsuccessful action models. A fair assessment of accomplishments and failures is highly important for the reason that it paves the way for the following steps: (1) the coach may revise the athlete’s performance technique in some aspect; (2) the coach may change the athlete’s attitude to a training or competitive situation. This item is fairly close to the coach’s sensitivity to athlete’s individual situations. It is also important to know that some athletes may be happy with a single appreciating glance from the coach, whilst the others may need kind words and/or even some bonuses like delicious food or sport appliance. The success rating and acknowledgement system applied by the coach may be effective since the athletes cannot but appreciate his time and efforts in the training and competitive process rather that material awards as such.

Conclusion. We analysed under the study the top five priority coaching service elements most appreciated by the respondents, albeit the other items of the questionnaire form are also important for the coach-athlete interaction. Ranked down from the top five were the explanations of the execution techniques (8.58 points), psychological support in competitions (8.42), training schedule design (8.26), training process management (7.81), humour (7.72), strictness in the training and competitive processes (7.57), demonstration of the lift performance techniques (7.42), and involvement in the athletes’ off-sport life (7.06). The ranking list of the coaching service elements may be beneficial for the coaching service progress to contribute to the powerlifters’ competitive successes.

Therefore, the study data and analyses of the coach’s elementary contributions to the powerlifter’s training and competitive process gave us the grounds to conclude that a success of the coaching service largely depends on how knowledgeable and skilful the coach is; how he builds up the interpersonal relations with athletes; and how good he is in sharing his knowledge with the latter.


  1. Rumyantseva V.I., Ruybite L.M. Vospriyatie i ponimanie drug druga v sportivnom obshchenii. Sportivnaya psikhologiya v trudakh otechestvennykh spetsialistov: Khrestomatiya. [Perception and understanding of each other in sports communication. Sports psychology in the works of domestic specialists: Reader.] St. Petersburg: Piter publ., 2002, p. 362.
  2. Husman B.F. The effect of coaching basketball and swimming upon emotion as measured by telemetry. Contemporary psychology of sport. Chicago: Athletic institute, 1972, 440 p.
  3. Ljdokova G.M., Razzhivin O.A., Volkova K.R. Confounding factors in sport activities of powerlifters. Life Science Journal, 2014, no.11 (8s), pp. 410-413.
  4. Ljdokova G.M., Razzhivin O.A., Volkova K.R. Powerlifters ways to overcome confounding factors at competitions. Life Science Journal, 2014, no. 11 (11s), pp. 477-480.
  5. Loy J.W. Sociopsychological attributes associated with the early adoption of a sport innovation. The journal of psychology, 1968, no. 70 (2), pp. 141-147.
  6. Mazzer K.R. Mental health in sport: coaches' views of their role and efficacy in supporting young people's mental health. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 2015, no. 53 (2), pp. 102-114.

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Successful cooperation of the training process subjects mostly in the coach-athlete interaction format is commonly acknowledged as pivotal for success of every athlete’s career including a powerlifter’s one. The article considers the coach’s role in athletic progress in the powerlifting sport. For the purposes of the study, we performed a questionnaire survey of 60 Russian athletes. The questionnaire form offered questions to rate 13 coach’s actions starting from “The coach makes you to...”. A special emphasis in the analysis was made on the following top five coach’s actions prioritised by the respondents: (1) efficient support in competitions, rated by 9.57 points on average; (2) individualised approach to the athletes, rated by 9.09 points; (3) the coach applies his own athletic training system, rated by 9.05 points; (4) the coach assists in competitions, rated by 8.77 points; and (5) the coach fairly rates athletes’ accomplishments and failures, rated by 8.64 points. The coach-athlete interaction profiling study showed that the practical coach’s activity generally meets athlete’s expectations. Success of the coaching services to powerlifters was found to largely depend on how knowledgeable and skilful the coach is; how he builds up interpersonal relations with athletes; and how good he is in sharing his knowledge with the latter.