Warwick research helps England Boxing talent coaches communicate under pressure

England Boxing’s top Talent Coaches met for the first time since Coronavirus restrictions were lifted to hear from linguistics expert Dr Kieran File about the importance of language when coaching in the corner.

Dr File presented insights from his pioneering study that analysed how coaches coach in the corner as opposed to what they say – an approach, it is believed, that no other country has yet considered.

He said: “The workshop was a great way to bring to a close this phase of the project. The coaches that attended really took the opportunity to engage with the content and think strategically about how they can use language effectively under pressure.

“A number of really important observations were made by the coaches during the workshop about how to use language to design clear and empowering instructional messages while at the same time ensuring that their boxers were safe, feeling confident and switched on. There were also really intuitive observations about how coaches could use language to foster solidarity and rapport with their boxers in these breaks between boxing rounds.

“There is plenty of scope to continue the project and Phase 2 plans are being drawn up to further advance coach skill in this important but often overlooked aspect of coaching.”

England Boxing’s Interim Talent Pathway Manager, Andrea Rankine added: “It was great to see people in the flesh and for coaches to have the chance to have personal conversations about their experiences over the past 18 months as to how the pandemic had effected them and their clubs.”

“We’d like to thank Dr File for attending and sharing his thoughts with the coaching group, who I know will be able to use what they have learned when they are next in a boxer’s corner.”

England Boxing’s Development Coach, Amanda Coulson said: “Exploring our coaching from the corner is an area where we can look to improve by 1%.

“This workshop and study has helped the Talent Pathway coaches think about looking for reasoning on what they say and how they say it, and, of course, the impact this can have on the boxer and the bout.

“We constantly analyse the boxer’s performances when they compete… and this area has highlighted the need to analyse and reflect on our performances as coaches, particularly when the pressure is on in the one-minute breaks between rounds.”

Dr File’s research through the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick has been made possible thanks to funding from the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.