Questions: A key ingredient to player buy-in

Coaches talk a great deal of the importance of buy-in by players.  But how is the accomplished? What is needed to lead so that others will follow? People and players don’t follow titles very far, so merely being a coach doesn’t ensure players will adhere to your demands.

 I believe a big part of this is clearly communicating your goals and expectations for the team and its members.  However, an equally big component is providing the players with the opportunity to indivdually share their goals and expectations with you. This only occurs if you start a dialogue as a coach.  If you are willing to actually listen and not lecture during this time you will have a much better understanding of the individual player and a great foundation to operate from in helping them adjust into their role on the team.

There are many benefits to this dialogue  such as:,

  • Players feel heard and validated
  • Players have ‘aha’ learning moments when they are talking through these questions as to their role on the team 
  • You can start to manage out of synch expectations between yourself and a player much earlier and at a time before anger and resentment have started to build up.
  • You can discover better ways to communicate with the player as you will have a greater understanding of their motivations and what makes them tick if you listen well. 

Below are examples of questions you can use at the start of seasons to initiate dialogue with players to develop the trust and relationship that can thrive during the adversity of a season:

  • What are your expectations for being on this team?  Playing time? Role on team? Shot attempts? Type of shot attempts? 
    Would you be able to stay positive in words, actions, and effort if these expectations did not get met?
  • What would you say are your strengths as a player?  Are there any others on the team stronger than you in these areas?
  • What are areas of your game that you feel you struggle in? 
  • What are your goals for playing on this team? Personally? For the Team?
  • How would you describe good leadership?
  • What do you think makes a good teammate?

The benefits of sincere dialogue intiated and continued throughout a season by questions and listening will pay benefits for the life of a player coach relationship  and definately provide a coach and their team their best opportunity to respond to adversity in a positive manner.

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