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UK Coaching Team
Rapport Building and Communicating

Challenging Situations: Understanding the Grey Zone

Developed in partnership with Katelynn Slade, Professor Sophia Jowett and Dr. Daniel Rhind from Loughborough University, this guide (the second in a mini-series) explains the ‘Grey Zone’ in physical activity and sport and how it can be applied to challenging situations with the people you coach

Challenging situations with the people you coach can be complex and difficult to manage, and situations such as deselection or injury can challenge even the most stable relationship. How you manage these situations, both with your participants and separately, can cause your relationships to weaken or strengthen.

Managing a challenging situation requires both of you to assess your own feelings and the feelings of the other person. How you both feel about a certain situation can change over time because of how you interact, leading to either a positive or negative outcome.

What is the Grey Zone?

The Grey Zone is "the space of indeterminacy upon which all determination ultimately depends."

Blum (2011)

This means that how challenging situations (i.e., the Grey Zone) are managed will impact further interactions between coaches and athletes, and ultimately the quality of the relationship.

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UK Coaching Team