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.
Questions are a powerful and often under utilized resource for coaches.
Using questioning techniques with players can reveal what they have learned and facilitate an effective method by which they learn. However, asking questions as a learning technique requires a committment by coaches to prepare, observe and listen.
Questions to others about your team/program provides a coach with valuable insight into the effectiveness of their communication and their strategy. Asking other questions about your performance requires courage, humility and an intense desire to grow and improve.
The reality is that if you want to be in control, if you want to play it safe, and/or if you want to stay at your current level don’t ask questions. However, if you want to achieve new levels of success, help others maximize their potential and discover the true abilities you must ask questions.
Let’s look at some examples of questions coaches should ask to staff members and/or others close to the team to recieve valuable insight into the effectiveness of their communication and teaching. Some examples of great questions to ask others would be:
- What would you say this program and team is known for?
- What are non-negiotables in this program? In our offense? In our defense?
- What would you say is the biggest objective I have for the playes on this team?
- What are the common goals we have established for this team? How effective are we at having all activities we do build towards those goals?
- H0w would you define our style of play?
- Based on your observations what would you say are the three biggest principles/character traits emphasized to players?
The questions listed above may be hard for coaches to hear honest answers on, but without hearing the geniune feedback we are merely making assumptions on the effectiveness of our communication and if we are progressing toward the vision we have for the team.
In future posts I will look at utilizing questions to develop players.
Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community, devote yourself to a purpose or a passion.
Tuesdays With Morrie
Coaching provides a great opportunity to live out this mantra. Love the people and players you work with. Improve your communty; coaches are fortunate enough to be in a position to impact this. Be passionate about the opportunities you have; if you aren’t you are probably trying to live someone else’s passion.
Coaches have an unique opportunity to work with young people in a forum that they are truly interested in and desire to excel in. This opportunity creates a responsibility. A responsiblity to best serve your athletes in the sport and use the sport to prepare them for their opportunities outside of sport. Coaches need to help players learn to be devoted to more than themselves and the simple accolades available in sport. A coach should be devoted to the following goals along with devoted to winning games. I also think winning comes easier when the following goals are achieved by coaches.
- Help players identify their gifts and find their passions.
- Provide them experiences in which they can benefit others and their community, so that they may see the benefits of living life well.
- Help them identify ways in which their unique giftings can be applied withn a team so that they may discover how these gifts can be applied to the larger world around them outside of sport.
As coaches we need to help players improve their performance and use the on court performance to help them learn how to improve their performance off of it. There is no greater reward for a coach than seeing their devotion displayed through others finding their passion and sharing it