Individual and a racket game activity

In this essay I will be aiming to highlight what factors make a successful leader. What a leader has that other group member’s lack that makes that individual stand out from the rest. I will attempt to cover how leadership styles change to suit different sports, i.e. a team, individual and a racket game activity.

There are many ways and theories to describe the qualities a leader in any situation must have. But most of these theories are just vague presumptions and generalisations. Leadership has been described as an interactional process. ‘Leadership effectiveness in sport is contingent on situational characteristics of both the leader and the group members. Thus effective leadership can and will vary on depending on the characteristics of the athletes and the constraints of the situation’, (Chelladurai) Chelladurai’s quote outlines the main principle in understanding leadership qualities. An individual who can adapt to different situations and personalities the best is most likely to be the ideal choice for the captain role in sport. (Warren Vessey).

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In a team game like football the leader plays a huge role in the team’s success. Great Football teams have benefited from great leadership and have triumphed in their achievements on the pitch. Such as Tony Adams captaining Arsenal F.C at centre back winning the Premiership and the FA Cup numerous, Manchester United with the dynamic Roy Keane captaining the side from centre midfield.

But if you step back and go to where talented footballers are born in the schools then the term leadership can mean different things. A football team in a poor area with little community support would need a leader to inspire and motivate them more than would be necessary in the pro leagues. A more relationship-orientated leadership style needs to be adopted if there is poor facilities and poor community support for a young football team. This would be common in an inner city. The leader would need strong interpersonal relationship skills and a good motivator to get the best out of the poorly motivated teenagers, rather than concentrating on completing a task. An autocratic leadership style would be appropriate in this situation.

Whereas, in a middle class society with good community support and poor facilities, (favourable situation), then task-orientated leadership is preferred. They do not need as much encouragement and would prefer task-orientated learning. A professional footballer would prefer task-orientated coaching because they have already developed good interpersonal relationships and are looking to perfect their already elite skill. ‘The main aspect of effective leadership, I think, is working by example and inspiring your team-mates to raise their game.’ (Warren Vessey).

Like David Beckham or Joe Cole they are not the most experienced or the biggest mouth on the field but they inspire their fellow team-mates by the amount of passion and hard work they put into the team. They are picked for captaincy, a prescribed leader chosen by the coach because their outstanding ability stands out from the rest of the team and can have the effect of motivating the team if they are playing well, if not then their lack of assertiveness can be subject to criticism. This is a multi-dimensional mode l of leadership for sports. Adapted from CHELLDURAI.


Situational characteristics expected behaviour Performance Satisfaction Leader characteristics Actual behaviour Member characteristics preferred behaviour But leader styles are now changing, in the past the England team was captained and dominated by such football greats as Terry Butcher, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton. These players were so passionate they would break a limb for their country. They motivated their team in the dressing room by shouting and winding them up. These days they allow a more Laissez-faire style and let the team play how they like without shouting or trying to order them about. Whether that is a good concept I’m not sure, the old fashioned type is a tried and tested way of success and should not be changed or altered.

As in young teenagers leagues they are more likely to be inspired by a big strong character on the field they can look up and admire. Someone they respect and can organise and command the team. As I have seen first hand in my Sunday football team we have no prescribed or emergent leader and the team lacks motivation and aggression. In an individual sport like athletics, a leader is less important but is still needed. They also need inspiration and drive from an extrinsic source, like a coach.

They can motivate and give positive feedback. They need task-orientated leadership as relations are hard to make when performing on your own. They need to practice their skill and their specified event to keep improving, work hard at completing tasks well. They need the leader to organise practice and organise their eating habits into specially arranged carbo-hydrate diets and low fat meals to get the best possible performance out of the athlete. An autocratic style of leadership is preferred. They do not need somebody to stumble about and make slow decisions, the athlete just wants to concentrate on practicing on the vent alone without having to worry about other decisions. They want everything to be sorted for them so they can put maximum effort into practicing. The leader must ensure that they receive negative feedback to put right mistakes that could cause costly on the event day.

In a racket sport like tennis, a democratic leader mixed with an autocratic style would be preferred. A tennis player is much more used to playing tennis for leisure not as a serious sport, so they won’t enjoy someone shouting at them and ordering them about. The performer would soon get bored and not enjoy what they are doing and would eventually not participate anymore. They need space to practice and learn with the leader observing. A task-orientated leadership but with some relationship-orientated work included would be preferred


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