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What’s the difference between a good coach and a great coach?
Often, the answer comes down to one thing: Communication. Good coaches ensure everyone gets the message; great coaches help everyone understand and act on the message.
So what’s the best way to do that? We’re glad you asked! Here are five key points to help you become a great communicator.
Tone and inflection have a lot to do with how messages are perceived. While coaching, be mindful of your tone and how it might impact your message. For example, if a coach shouts, some players might get defensive or tune the coach out. When that happens, not only do the players miss the message––there might be a whole new problem to deal with.
2. Think about your audience.
Older players have more confidence and understanding of a coach-player relationship than younger players, so they’re better able to accept direct forms of criticism. Similarly, how you talk to players and how you talk to parents is probably very different; you might be less casual or even less direct. Cater your message to your audience.
3. Communication is a two-way street.
If you’re a coach, you’re a leader. Think about the leaders you’ve respected most over your lifetime. Did they listen to your concerns and suggestions, or did they boss everyone around? What comes out of your mouth is better received when your ears are open as well.
4. Keep an eye (or ear?) out for communication blocks.
These could include all kinds of things, like a player’s or parent’s perceptions being different than yours (what constitutes a “hard” practice, for example). Some other possible blockers include a lack of knowledge on a subject (assuming everyone knows a certain drill or move), emotions and personality clashes. As long as it’s in your power, it’s your job to make sure these blocks are removed. Ask if everyone understands your instructions, talk openly with players and parents and try to see things from other points of view. It might seem like a lot of handholding at first, but it will go a long way in ensuring your message is adopted.
5. Streamline wherever you can.
The best communicators know where to focus their energy and, maybe even more importantly, where not to. Things like finding out who’s coming to the game, telling everyone where the game is and making sure your team has the right gear shouldn’t take up all your time. You have enough to do as it is! Using the TeamSnap app to communicate, for example, helps you and your team stay in-the-know, no matter where you are. For example, if there’s a last-minute rainout, you can notify your entire team in real-time using TeamSnap Live! Talk about great communication.
Those are some of our top tips, but there are plenty more. What are some of your best communication tips for coaches? Tell us all about them in the comments section!
Stephanie Gonzalez is the senior marketing manager for TeamSnap. When she’s not manning the marketing department’s helm, you can find Stephanie playing lawn games or working on her 95-year-old craftsman home in Memphis, Tenn.