Dressing for success helps coaches


Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was well-known for his sartorial elegance on the touchline

Sports coaches who wear suits on match days and tracksuits on training days are more likely to get the best out of their teams, according to new research.

Sports scientists at the University of Portsmouth studied the effect a coach’s appearance had on the players’ impressions of their competence.

Dr Richard Thelwell said: “We have found that the clothing that coaches wear can have a direct effect on the players’ perceptions of the coach’s ability.

“Players look to their coach to provide technical skills, to motivate them and to lead them. A coach in a suit suggests strategic prowess which is obviously ideal for a match.

“In our study, coaches wearing a suit were perceived as being more strategically competent than those wearing sporting attire. However, when wearing sporting attire, they were perceived to be more technically competent than those in a suit.”

For the research, published in the International Journal of Sport Psychology, the researchers asked 97 men and women to observe and give their reactions to static photographs of four different coaches.

The pictures depicted coaches who were of lean physique and dressed in a tracksuit, large physique and dressed in a tracksuit, lean physique and dressed in a suit and large physique and dressed in a suit.

The coach who was of large build and wearing smart clothes was uniformly ranked the lowest in terms of their competence to motivate, develop technique, develop game strategy, and build athlete character.

The coach who was lean and wearing a tracksuit was rated best for technical and character-building abilities which were skills most required at training and development of players and was rated equal best for “ability to motivate players” while the coach who was lean and smartly dressed was rated best as a strategist, the skill most expected and required at matches.

Dr Thelwell said: “First impressions can have a powerful and long-lasting effect, no matter how quickly those judgments were made. From the research, we know that sportsmen and women make snap decisions about their opponents based on first impressions. Such impressions then often influence the expectations of the performance outcome that ultimately results in success or failure.”

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