The 5C framework, demonstrating the interaction between each of the Cs

The 5Cs is a program aimed at increasing your awareness of psychological and social skills that can be introduced to your athletes through your coaching. Beyond your technical or tactical role as a coach, you can influence the Commitment, Communication, Concentration, Control and Confidence of your athletes. Helping athletes to shape and experience these qualities and skills through training and competition is a significant and valuable role for you as a coach.

Successful athletes are typically those who are best able to: regulate their emotions, fix their attention, utilise effective interpersonal skills, and remain highly motivated and self-assured in the face of consistent challenges. These behaviours are the hallmark of mentally tough, emotionally intelligent athletes, and can be grouped under the 5Cs of: Commitment, Communication, Concentration, Control, and Confidence.

Let’s take a brief look at each ‘C’ and what your coaching might start to embrace when you focus on each C with intent.

A coach who looks to promote commitment creates an environment that values effortful engagement and self-improvement over comparisons with other athletes.

Practices you use will allow athletes to set goals for improvement (e.g. performing consecutive successful dribbles in a ball manipulation drill, in a given time, and then trying to beat it). You will give specific feedback and personalised recognition (e.g. “Tom, great first touch, good progress!”), as well as incorporating a review and reflection section allowing the athletes to comment on their effort in the practices/session.

Communication coaching is aimed at developing an athlete’s interpersonal skills and positive interactions with others. This is achieved by teaching verbal and non-verbal skills that form the processes of giving and receiving feedback as well as attending and listening to others.

A coach who looks to promote communication is a coach who specifically helps each athlete to become more skilled at giving and receiving information. This is an athlete who Helps, Encourages, Listens, Praises and Acknowledges others: A strong HELPA.

Concentration coaching focuses on the athlete’s ability to attend to the right things at the right time, and in the right place, while blocking out the distractions that can harm performance.

A coach who looks to develop concentration will assist their athletes in focusing on the correct cues for a specific action, situation or event – potentially related to their positional responsibility. You would seek to test and develop your athletes’ concentration by increasing the length of time they have to focus (or renew effort to focus) and challenge them to keep their concentration under increasing fatigue.

Coaching ‘control skills’ centres on optimising an athlete’s ability to manage his or her emotions before and during a performance. As a coach, you would be focused on helping athletes to achieve a desired state of alertness and readiness, and secondly, on “bouncing back” after challenges and mistakes that occur during performance.

A coach who values helping athletes with emotional control will discuss the types of emotions that athletes can feel and experience before and during performances. They will raise the emotional awareness of athletes and use this to introduce (and get athletes to suggest) strategies (e.g., breathing, self-talk affirmations, support from teammates) that they can use in practice and competition. A control coach will set up practice situations to train the best responses to different scenarios.

As the final ‘C’, confidence isn’t a mental skill like the other Cs. It is essentially a state of mind linked to the beliefs that an athlete has at executing a skill to a desired level or achieving a specific outcome. Confidence can frequently fluctuate if it is not built on three solid foundations: the development of a positive attitude to a task or situation; the building and banking up of accomplishments; and a sense of positive support from others.

As a coach, you can build confidence by creating a ‘no fear of failure’ environment and by structuring coaching sessions that allow for gradual accomplishments in athletes. Every little success matters, little successes are viewed as personally meaningful, and every success should be built upon.

If you would like to become a 5C coach, or if you would like more information, check out our services page or get in touch.

For advice on how to use the 5Cs in your own practice as a coach, you can also view our “Top Tips for Coaches” resource, linked below.