Chapter 3 Marketing, A Philosophy that Has Changed the Sport – Great Coaching and Your Bottom Line

CHAPTER 3

Marketing, A Philosophy that Has Changed the Sport

Thanks to marketing, sport has become one of the largest businesses in the world. Marketing in sports is different from marketing of other ordinary products and services, but most “common” marketing techniques can also be applied in sports.

Using the marketing concept in sport assumes that the key to achieving goals lies in determining the needs and satisfying the wishes of those who use its services. Marketing aims to create as much awareness and loyalty as possible toward the service we make use of. The more it is used in communication, more successful the sports marketing becomes. The marketing concept has revived today’s sport and brought it closer to millions of people. It has contributed to the fact that many coaches, athletes, sports clubs, and sponsors see their future in the ability to better understand the users of their services and their importance for better functioning and development of sports.

Finally, in the world of sports and entertainment, everyone is keen on the one who can deliver the most exciting and most credible story. Thanks to marketing, sport regularly delivers exciting stories from ­College ­Baseball Home Run Derby, Champions League, Olympic Games to Super Bowl.

All Successful Marketing Programs in the Sport Are Market-Oriented

Philip Kotler, generally considered the father of marketing, has given the following definition of marketing:

  1. Marketing is the process by which an organization relates creatively, productively, and profitably to the marketplace.
  2. Marketing is the art of creating and satisfying customers at a profit.
  3. Marketing is getting the right goods and services to the right people at the right places at the right time at the right price with the right communications and promotion (Kotler 1991).

The customer is in the center of the marketing concept along with ­delivery of values that will satisfy his or her desires and needs. Sport ­marketing applies this marketing concept in all subareas of sport. The fundamental aim of sport marketing activities is to meet the buyers’ need for ­products or services that offer benefits better than the ones from competition while at the same time achieving the highest sustainable profit (Sullivan 2004).

All successful marketing programs in the sport are market-oriented, meaning that it is necessary to know what sports fans (those who are engaged in sports, or follow certain sport) want in order to respond to their needs. To be market-oriented in sports means to develop a system of gathering information from competitors and customers of sports goods and services and to include this information in planning and decision making in order to explore competition and develop an appropriate ­marketing strategy. A well-made marketing strategy will enable us to choose the best way to achieve the goals set.

The aim of sports marketing is to provide the best possible service to the customers and in turn to build as much awareness and loyalty as possible. The more it is approached as a communicating factor, the more successful sports marketing is.

Unlike “classic” marketing, marketing in sports has one additional specificity, and this is a powerful influence of emotions in making a buying decision. Market-oriented sports organizations, athletes, and coaches are committed to sensitizing, serving, and satisfying their fans’ needs. They are doing everything needed to ensure high quality and top value for their followers. The marketing concept has revived today’s sport and brought it closer to millions of people. It has contributed to the fact that many coaches, athletes, sports clubs, and sponsors plan their future through the ability to better understand the users of their services and their importance for better functioning and development of sports.

Today, in the world of sports and entertainment, it’s all about delivering the most exciting and most credible marketing content. Digital media played a major role in the development of sports marketing. Thanks to digital media, marketing content can be tailored to fit different groups and individuals, along with the possibility of direct interaction.

What Are the Main Marketing Goals of Sports Coaches?

A sports coach is one of the key figures in the sport and therefore has to establish quality marketing communication with the environment. In order to succeed, the coach has to define his marketing goals. Once the goals are determined, the process for achieving the goals has to be elaborated in detail (strategy) and ultimately the coach must be consistent in the implementation of this process.

The main marketing communication goals of the coach are:

  • presentation of his own professional knowledge and skills (attracting attention);
  • highlighting comparative advantages compared to other coaches (creating interests);
  • fostering public interest—good positioning among the ­opinion makers (incentives to purchase);
  • achieving the goal (action).

Opinion makers who create public opinion about coaches are media, social networks, sports forums, sponsors, and various sports institutions and organizations. As you can see, the goals of marketing communication of the coach only differ in articulation from the basic postulates of successful marketing communication of commercial products. In order to implement an effective goal management strategy, a coach must communicate in a clear, coherent, and convincing manner. A well-designed and implemented strategy to implement the objectives of the coach ensures progress in the profession. The coach has to fully control and monitor the dimensions of achieving the goals set so that they become recognizable by sympathizers and fans, and the work done is considered as high quality and successful. The marketing communication goals of the coach should be seen as related units whose achievement takes place in such a way that the hierarchy of achieving one goal promotes the achievement of the other, and all in an effort to achieve the marketing effects for the coach as efficiently as possible.

A Winning Combination in Sports: Marketing Mix

It’s been a long time since sport was communicated solely by words and pictures. Today the communication takes place through the marketing mix. “Marketing Mix is a set of controlled variables through which a company can influence the customer’s response” (Kotler 1991). Marketing mix is one of the dominant ideas in modern marketing and consists of everything that the company can use to increase the demand for its product. The elements of a marketing mix are product, price, place and promotion, and Kotler has called them shortly as 4Ps. All of the above elements are equally important in achieving the marketing goals and work together. These four variables help the company develop a unique sales point as well as a brand image (Kotler, Armstrong, Wong, and Saunders 2008).

Sports Products and Services Are Becoming Recognizable Thanks to Promotion

Modern sport is an integral part of the market orientation of society, and as such it is inconceivable without promotional activities in the ­process of linking sports goods and services. Promotional activities in sports mean different activities used by sports organizations and companies to target the potential customers with the aim of encouraging them to buy ­certain goods and services. Thanks to the promotion, sports products and services are becoming recognizable to individuals, groups, or the public, with the aim of creating a positive attitude.

A positive attitude and adequate knowledge of a sports offer is the first step in purchasing products and services of sports organizations.

Coach: The One from a Wide Range
of Sports Products

A sports coach is nothing more than just one from a wide range of ­products in the market. In marketing terms, coaches have been identified as an integral part of the overall sports product (Rosner and Shropshire 2004), as they are considered as an important precondition affecting the overall market efficiency of a sports organization.

Sports organizations have become recognizable not only by the athletes but lately by the coaches as well. Thanks to their frequent presence and huge coverage by the media, their popularity has even outgrown the athletes. Equally as the products differ, the coaches also differ from each other.

The characteristics of a coach that differentiates one from the other are called the coach’s personality. Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior. Studying personality focuses on two broad areas: one is to understand the individual differences in particular personality characteristic, such as sociability or irritability. Another is to understand how different parts of a person come together as a whole (http://apa.org).

Personality is the strongest link that makes a difference between coaches, and also highly influences the creation of their positive image in the public. Spectators and followers of sporting events may be delighted with the results achieved by the coach on the pitch, but only through the way in which his personality is presented, either respect or disrespect is earned.

Respect and appreciation of coaches are of great importance for strengthening the positive image of a sports organization in public. A positive image of coaches in the public almost always gets transfixed to the team that leads (Rosner and Shropshire 2004). In the professional clubs, the public relation departments advise coaches how to behave in the ­public. They teach them how to become positive, safe, and capable ­personalities. Additionally, in order to create a positive image, media exposure can be increased, for example, through targeted interviews aimed at highlighting their characteristics and demonstrating the competence of the coach (Ross et al. 2006).

Coaches can also be encouraged to participate in community-related events or to start writing their own columns/blogs to maintain their public visibility and to continue to act as a reminder of their team’s names (Mullin and assoc. 1999).

Brand Increases Competitiveness

Brands are more than just names and symbols. Brands represent ­
consumers’ perceptions and feelings about product and its performance—everything that the product or service means to consumers. As one branding expert suggests, “Ultimately, brands reside in the minds of consumers” (Kotler+3 2008).

Brand is a tool that increases the competitiveness of sports organizations, athletes, and coaches in the market. Branding serves a dual function. In addition to identifying the source of the customer’s product and guaranteeing quality, it also protects the producer from mixing with a competitor selling apparently identical goods (Aaker 1991).

Sports coaches today need an effective brand strategy in order to establish a positive relationship with the environment and across the public and to gain a greater degree of loyalty of the team. Brand in coaching profession can be the decisive difference between the coaches of the same quality level. Given the high competitive nature of sport, branding can play an important role in influencing fans’ preferences and club-based perceptions and distinctions from competing clubs and other leisure-time activities (Bauer, Stokburger-Sauer, and Exler 2008).

The strength of a coach who is a brand simplifies the decision-making process, reduces risk, and reflects quality and high expectations. ­Basketball coach Gregg Charles Popovich is today recognized as a coaching brand in North America, meaning that his coaching value in the sports market is much higher than that of a school team coach. The difference between a “branded” coach and an “ordinary” coach is that brands are not created on the pitch, but in the perception of people.

The most famous brand in the world is Apple (Forbes 2017). The company name represents a certain image and identity, as well as the product itself. What would Apple mean without a name? Just one of the many manufacturers of electronic products, and the cult iPhone just one of a number of mobile devices on the store shelves. The world is full of top coaches today, but clubs mostly engage those who have developed their own identity and image, that is, those who have become a brand. There are no sports fans who have not heard of Bill Belichick, Glenn “Doc” ­Rivers, Gregg Popovich, Lovie Smith, Jose Mourinho, and Pep Guardiola, as all of them are recognizable brands on the world stage of sports.

Thanks to television, the growing commercial strength of coaches has contributed to the increase of public and club interest for individual coaches as marketing subjects. Top coaches are no longer just coaches, they are also celebrities, sports icons; in a single word, they are brands. Coach brand as a public person strongly influences people’s behavior and hence they are engaged by large companies to promote and validate their products. Coaches and their agents came to the position that, because of reaching the “star” status, they are able to negotiate with sponsors about contracts to promote various products (from sports equipment to juices and cars) in order to increase demand for these products. In the sports world there are plenty of examples of top sports coaches who earn far more from sponsorship than what they earn on the soccer field.

In the sports world, there is even the example of Jose Mourinho, the big soccer star, former Manchester United coach (EPL), whose name and signature was protected as a European trademark in 2005 by Chelsea FC. The purpose was to stop various businesses trading with his name, and using his public image without his permission (www.techdirt.com 2016).

Is Quality Essential in Determining
Value of a Coach?

Evaluating sports is very difficult and complex. Customers make the ­decision whether to “buy” a certain sport based on personal imaginative values, friends’ opinions, media influence, depending on whether the sport is well covered by media, or well-known because of a sports and media star. Players, coaches, and athletes must always draw the benefit of their participation in relation to the costs. Today, in the sports market, there is a great deal of competition among leisure time activities offered, so it has to be considered how much the costs can negatively affect their participation in the chosen sport. Sports practice shows that when designing a price for a particular sports product, primarily the market circumstances at that particular time have to be considered. Although the belief that for the acceptability of a certain price level, the objective quality of a sports product is essential; in practice, this is only partially correct. Objective quality is just a part of the crucial subjective rating of a potential buyer of a sports product (a spectator, a sports club), which for sure involves the image of a sports product, meaning the opinion created and the customer trust in the sports product.

Even though the public believes the quality of a certain coach is the most important factor to determine his value, again in reality, this is only partially true. The decision of football clubs and associations whether or not to hire a certain coach is made based on personal imaginary values, the opinions of the media, perception of him created by the media, and the results achieved. The price of a coach is negotiated on the basis of his expertise and results, but these aren’t decisive for agreeing to the final price. The actual quality is only part of the subjective assessment of the one who is actually hiring. An important component of the judgment is the image of the coach or the public image formed by the respective coach. Actual trends show that price estimation of certain coaches is based primarily on the market conditions at a given moment. The expertise, results, and appropriate license are all considered to be obligatory. In determining the final price, the way in which a coach presents his knowledge and personality in public is essential. A coach, who has built a stronger public image, generally achieves a higher market price. What does this mean in practice?

The engagements of former sport stars by famous clubs confirm my opinion. They often get a coach’s job on the account of their well-known name, even though there are certainly better and more experienced coaches among their counter-candidates.

My opinion has no scientific and researched background. It is based on my long-standing experience of work in Croatian soccer clubs.

Never Regard Sports Journalists as Enemies

It happens often that the coaches are not happy with the news or ­article published in the newspaper. Not a reason to despair, as journalists are ­people just like everyone else, with their strengths and weaknesses. ­Journalists also have the right to be wrong—it’s just that their errors are visibly exposed to the public, unlike others. Many of them have their own pet coaches as well as those they don’t particularly respect.

Usually young coaches, at the start of their coaching career, are extremely sensitive to the opinion of other people and media criticism. They might even contact the journalist who wrote a negative article to explain that he or she is wrong. Their pride demands explanations and evidence for the way a particular article had been written. They are not aware that this means adding fuel to the fire. Later on, looking back, these responses may seem amusing. Because of life experience, they realize it’s much more important to know how to remain indifferent to criticism than to constantly explain to people that they’ve been attacked without any basis. The same applies to the relationship with the media. Through experience, they realize that probably more than half of those who bought the paper that day didn’t even pay attention to the article that made them so angry. And the question is if those who did actually read it understood the article in the same way it appeared to them. The truth is people don’t think so much about others, but mostly themselves. It worries them more not to have taken their dog for a walk than whether the coach of their favorite players made a ludicrous substitution during the match. But you also have to be aware that building trust and respect between coaches and journalists takes a lot of time, effort, hard work, tolerance, and patience.

My advice to coaches would be to meet media representatives in person as it makes cooperation easier. Don’t be suspicious of the media. Most journalists are highly committed and take pride in their work. Sport journalists have to be seen as an essential partner in the joint venture. Not as enemies, not even those you’ve had a bad experience with in the past. You must be aware of the public eye’s great interest in sports, as well as coaches. You also have to accept there’ll always be someone hoping to criticize your work unfairly. When you take this inevitable fact on board, life gets easier. Keep trying hard, do the best you can, and just smile at the comments, complaints, tiny digs, and criticism. This, by far, is the best recipe. In the past, we can find various examples of different coach behavior toward journalists. In the early 1980s, the coach of the Italian national soccer team, Enzo Bearzot, accepted his players’ initiative when they defended themselves from the sly journalistic comments by simply ignoring the media. This is where the accepted notion “Silencio Stampa” was coined—not giving a statement to the press. This wasn’t just within Italy as it was later adopted across the world and became a tactic accepted by many coaches. I don’t support such an attitude of coaches and athletes toward journalists, because it’s counterproductive. Avoiding statements doesn’t mean a breakdown in communication, it’s just a breakdown in talking with the media. Messages transmitted by silence speak a lot more, but one thing is certain—they don’t bring people together.

Coaches on the Rise or Fall:
Never Refuse Journalists

Thanks to television, sport has become a global game and sports coaches have been transformed into celebrities due to their regular TV appearances. We live in an age where coaching careers are increasingly influenced by the media. Although we’re told most of coaches only live on results and success, this is only partly the truth. These days, this is no longer enough. Today, a successful coach, along with his professional knowledge and results on the pitch, has to have a certain level of popularity and a personal image. Those who achieve popularity know how to promote their work, which can be done easily through the media. The coach must never forget the importance of the media, even when at a low point and likewise when doing well. The media is represented by journalists who are the link between coaches and the interested public. They’re the ones who transmit the coach’s thoughts and shape the image of the coach in the public eye. Why do coaches attract the attention of the media? Because they’re public figures, and also the audience wants to hear expert feedback on certain moves in the game. Journalists love interesting, witty, and charming interlocutors. Among those who deviate from the stereotype is Jose Mourinho. Not a day goes by without a statement from the “special one”, not only for the English, but also other international media.

Journalists prefer easy-to-reach and available coaches. If you avoid the press, if contact with them becomes a burden, and if you’re bothered by certain questions and criticism, journalists will eventually avoid you too. Talking of relationships between coaches and journalists, I always think of an interesting remark by a friend of mine, a sports journalist: “he was never refused by a coach who was at the start of his career and equally who had a problem.”

He was always refused by the coaches who at some point felt powerful and untouchable, forgetting that the wheel of fortune constantly turns and can one day find themselves back at the bottom. The third thing that attracts reporters is the coach’s expertise. Knowledge can fascinate everyone, including journalists. The media is the long arm of the public and the soul of the fans, and that’s the way coaches have to experience it. Naturally, the media will sometimes be of harm, but it will also provide a good opportunity for free promotion. It often depends on coach himself and his relationship with the media. It’s simple: seize the media!

The Place of a Sports Product Can Significantly Affect the Achievement of Overall Marketing Goals

The place of sporting goods refers to where and how consumers are buying sports goods (in marketing, the concept of distribution is also linked to the sports product). The place in the provision of sports services relates more to the location than to the physical marketing channels (wholesale and retail). The location in the sport represents a marketing space where spectators, contestants, or recreational athletes are gathered. The place of a sports product is an essential element of a marketing mix, since it can significantly affect the achievement of overall marketing goals. This impact is particularly noticeable in competitive sports where it is very important that sporting events are timely and spatially matched to other events so as not to overlap. Very important from the position of the location is availability, that is, traffic connection to the sports arena itself. The place is a particularly important element of marketing mix for athletes and coaches. Can you imagine the situation you got an attractive offer to train a team in central China tomorrow? Suddenly, your future workplace location would become the most important element of a marketing mix. All of this tells us that all elements of marketing mix are equally important and interrelated.

Social Networks: A Huge Step Forward in Sports Marketing

The appearance of television was crucial for moving sports from local to global level. Thanks to television, the sport has widely opened its window to the world. Along with the development of electronic media followed by expansion of new commercial technologies, the sport has become a global good, and the sports industry one of the most profitable global businesses. The sport today, due to the use of new technologies, is now available in every part of the globe. And where visibility is, there are always sponsors and advertisers who have quickly recognized the marketing value of the sport. The result is the incredible popularity of top-class sports clubs, athletes, and coaches who even, through their frequent appearances in the media and social networks, succeed to put in shadow elusive actors and musicians.

In winning the new markets for sports clubs, the social networks are far most supportive. Reaching, interacting, and communicating with fans through digital and social media are much more effective than traditional television.

Marketing of sports organizations has completely adapted to sports fans with regard to comfort, speed, and price, all thanks to social networks. The marketing in sports itself also has to adapt to the new technological changes. The upgrading, new ways of thinking, and acting are required. If sports organizations want to grow and develop, the existing concept of marketing skills and practices must be constantly refined with new competencies and practices that technological progress brings. Use of social media in sports means a major marketing step forward. Many authors over the years have clarified what social media actually are. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) define social media as a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. The content of social media can contain text, audio, video, and networks. Social media are not only used by young and adult people to inform and share their personal images and messages between family and friends. They are used by sporting organizations around the world for the purpose of promotion and interaction with sport fans in a systematic way.

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube have become media destinations for sports organizations. Thanks to the interaction with fans on a personal level, their loyalty to the sports organization as well as to the products and services it offers is growing stronger. Social media has also played a major role in the global promotion of sports, which resulted in intensified interest of sponsors to invest in sports. The sponsors have very quickly noticed a great interest in the content of sports on social networks.

The social networks enabled sponsors to build new relationships with fans and sports enthusiasts and their potential consumers, thanks to their mutual point of interest—sports organization, event, player, coach. ­Mangold and Faulds (2009) also say that social media have become a major factor in influencing different aspects of consumer behavior, including awareness, information gathering, opinions, attitudes, buying behavior, communication, and evaluation after purchase.

Large European sports clubs, which have always been economically inferior to American professional clubs, have expanded their businesses to the whole world through the social networks and thus approached the American clubs on financial indicators. The largest expansions of ­European clubs happened on the Asian continent. In 2012, the ­Mailman, the social media agency from China, launched an interesting Red Card China Digital Awards. The award is based on an annual survey that ranks the digital competence of the most popular football clubs, leagues, and players on major Chinese social media platforms: Sina Weibo and WeChat. The Red Card 2018, the award for the most influential team in 2018 on major Chinese media platforms, was won by Manchester United followed by Real Madrid, Bayern FC Munich, Arsenal FC London, and Liverpool FC.

With over 107m followers, China is one of Manchester United’s most important markets and we have a long history of innovation and fan engagement in the region. Through data analysis, geo-specific content creation and on-the-ground activities, we continue to be the most followed football Club on China’s major social media platforms: Sina Weibo and WeChat. We are honoured to receive the Red Card award for the second consecutive year and we are excited about the ongoing opportunities to innovate and build our brand, allowing our fans in China to interact with the Club and our products.

—Phil Lynch, CEO of Media, Manchester United (www.irishmirror.ie2018)

German Bundesliga is the number one European football league title online in China. Among the players, Christian Ronaldo, the last year’s winner, was replaced this year by Lionel Messi from Barcelona as the most influential player in China (soccerex.com 2018).

Current positions already established in the huge Chinese market point out that during 2019, the integration of new technologies and a wide range of fans inclusion will be the key to success in the sports industry. To capitalize on their popularity financially, sports clubs will have to find ways to get closer to supporters at a deeper level that will increase their club value.

The Top Coaches Are Also Sports Stars, Right?

Due to the great interest of sports enthusiasts and attention drown by media and social network users, top coaches represent a special element of their team’s quality. What is it that makes the coaches sport stars? Sport stars are personalized expressions of value. Given that coaches are able to attract the attention of the whole sporting public to the game and the club in which they work, they also deserve to be given the epitome of sport stars. It is therefore understandable that coaches and sport stars are the most suitable subject for promotion and other marketing activities. It is not a surprise that today’s entire sports entertainment system is largely based on sport stars. The statement pronounced by stars followed by the interest provoked in the public largely gives an economical explanation of their huge income. Their income is huge because they bring profit both to their sports organizations and to all participants in the sports chain.

Sport stars are worshiped by the public because their results are authentic, visible, understandable, and their value can be checked. Sport stars, along with their popularity, besides motivating young people to engage in sports, also inspire the interest of the general public for a particular sport. Thanks to the wide recognition of their stunts, spectators are attracted to TVs, mobile phones, and sports stadiums, thus contributing to the sports success and financial success of their sport and team. All of these elements have to be taken into account in marketing deliberations of sports.

The Image of a Coach from the Marketing Point of View

Whether they like it or not, sports coaches definitely create a certain image. The question is only whether they create it alone or allow someone else to do it for them. If a coach wants to create his own image, he has to find a way to develop it and to hold onto it, respecting the fact he is constantly under the watchful public eye. This especially applies to the top professional coaches. A positive image created in public is of great significance in achieving the goals set.

Each coach should work on his image. The marketing theory on the concept of image says: “The image is a set of beliefs, ideas and impressions of a person about a particular subject or other person” (Kotler 1989). Following this theoretical definition, the image of the sport coach can be defined as the image he is experienced by the public. This image often ­differs from the image the coach has on himself. The idea of a coach sometimes can be far bigger (lesser) than the real quality and the sport results he achieves, because the image created in the public is not only based on sports achievements, but also on presence in the media, behavior, looks, and other factors that are not directly connected to sports results.

It does not matter what the coach thinks his value is, it matters what the public thinks his value is. Aren’t we witnessing examples from the sport practice when frequent appearances and glorifying a coach in the media resulted in his huge transfer to another club? Each coach has a personality that makes him different from his colleagues. Based on the personality of the coach, either positive or negative attitudes and associations are created by the public concerned as well as coach’s environment. (Malovic 2005).

Writing about the image, the leading Croatian media expert Stjepan Malovic noted that “the image is a tool used to communicate and reveal your qualities, competence and abilities to others.”

Below are the basic elements of personality elements needed to build a positive image, which can be used by sport coaches as a helpful tool in everyday life:

Appearance—Fans and the public mostly do not have opportunity to meet the coach personally so the judgment on him is based on his appearance.

Communication capability—Fans and the public expect the coach to communicate equally successful as his team and players are led.

Character—A good character is the virtue that everyone admires. It is a result of upbringing, education, and other environmental impacts. Character evolves throughout life.

Body talk—The gestures and movements of the coach should transmit the message of security and self-control in order to gain trust from public.

Attitude—The coach must have his own attitude. He must believe in his value, in the value of his players, and his team. His attitude greatly influences the opinion and the judgment of the players and the public.

StyleToday there is a very high level of competition among coaches, so it is advisable for the coach to develop this unique quality to be more recognizable than his colleagues.

We live in times surrounded by visual stimuli literally at every step. Thus it is impossible to achieve a successful career in any public profession without paying attention to one’s visual image. Through further education, or by recognizing the importance of the mentioned elements, the coach can empower his image. Today to be successful, no matter what your profession is, you have to differ from others. This also applies to sports coaches. The quality communication is the skill that to a known extent creates a positive image of a sports coach. The mere fact that a coach is an excellent expert in his profession does not guarantee success if he is the person difficult to cooperate with. Creation of positive personal image needs to be embedded in everything he says and does and it will help him to make a successful career. Critical contacts happen on a daily basis in the work of sports coaches. The coach should constantly be aware of the way his communication with people is, both in public and in private life. A sports coach should also always keep in mind that in the public he is presenting his players and his club (alliance), so he must constantly take care of his communication, even during the match time, which is one of the most stressful moments in the life of a sports coach.

Many times people make assumptions about a coach as a person solely on the basis of his appearance, statements and behavior along the edge of the field. A positive image will bring to every coach a secure corner at the moments when he is the object of negative media attention so the coach needs to carefully choose his statements and behave accordingly. Time is needed to build an image. It is a long-term process that needs to be constantly upgraded with positive assumptions.

The soccer coach Miroslav Ciro Blazevic belongs to one of the most crowned Croatian coaches thanks to his top sports results. Apart from achieving excellent sports results, Miroslav Blazevic is the coach who has managed to build a great coaching image. As I was fortunate enough to cooperate with him for a while (in 2004), I got to know his way of communication and to know how he manages to provoke interest in the media and the public. Thanks to him, there was a growing interest in both the club and its players. Through studying his communication and his opinion of the elements needed to create the positive image of a sports coach, I noted down some of the most important ones:

  • appearance (the coach must always look neat and clean);
  • communication etiquette / sport culture (the basis for ­creating a positive image of each coach);
  • style (the superior coach must develop his own style);
  • knowledge (the coach must continually invest in his knowledge because who knows the knowledge does not know about fear);
  • the ability to communicate (the coach does not need to be a big speaker, but must speak clearly and understandably);
  • good communication with the media (no large or small, all media are significant);
  • respect for all people (by respecting all people the positive ­message is transmitted);
  • authority among the players (created by knowledge, ­discipline, honesty and justice);
  • sports achievements (they confirm and give credibility to the image created).

Thanks to keeping up with these postulates, Miroslav Blazevic managed to communicate with the public in a very good manner, thus complementing the sporting image of one of the best soccer coaches in the world (Drazenovic and Hizak 2005).