While these notes focus on building credibility as a coach, I find them applicable to any leadership position. Whether it’s with a classroom or a boardroom, it’s really important to remember to the inherent value of the people you’re working with.
(Photo by apesara)
Credibility in Coaching
- Coaches need to understand players first as people and second as athletes.
- Quality of Effort: The process is more important than the product. Aim to develop your players and help them do their best. The focus should be on effort and improvement rather than on the scorecard. Even from the competitive standpoint, building hardworking, self-improving attitudes is the best way to achieve results.
- Good coaches improve all their players: Make it a we project. A good coach makes the least talented player feel as important as the most. Players who didn’t make the winning shot or didn’t even play in the game still helped the team during practice. That contribution should be recognized, thanked, and appreciated. This way each team members understands his or her responsibility and the entire team develops and grows stronger.
- Communication: Take the time to be a good listener. Keep reiterating to players, “Let me know if you need to talk. We can sit down and have a word together.”
- Be a consistent coach: The same rules apply to all people. People are different and have different needs and learning styles, so you can’t treat everyone exactly the same way. But when it comes to goals and punishments, you must be consistent. Ask your team to help you with this: have them hold you accountable and call you out when you aren’t consistent.
- Be yourself… unless you’re a jerk… If you’re a jerk, change!
- While 75-80 percent of success is in recruiting, once you get your athletes, don’t let the nuts and bolts make you lose track of the cultural chemistry. A group of top players can lose half their games if the right chemistry isn’t there. “My most talented team stunk: four Draft Picks, four 90+mph pitchers, seven Division 1 Players, and we lost half our games. Too many I’s and not enough we’s. You need the right chemistry.” Make sure each team member understands his or her responsibility and that it’s a team effort.
- Once (or more) per month, have a topic for motivation: It could be a talk from you, a guest speaker, or fun off the wall activities. A cooler with some treats or a bowling night. (Note to coaches: If you give the talk, keep it under a few minutes, especially after a game! You’ve been there yourself. Don’t torture your athletes.)
- Demonstrate passion about your job. Show you are committed. Show your enthusiasm. “I have the greatest job in the world. I’ve gotten to put on a uniform for 27 years.”
- Caring: Talk, be consistent, and praise. Take the time to say “thank you” to individuals and to the team as a whole.
- Confidence building: Be enthusiastic. Have a sense of humor. Be creative. Be passionate. Try hard to bring a joke. Show that you’re human. Laugh with the team and laugh at yourself. If you’re one of those serious types, make an extra effort here. Players will appreciate it.
This is based on a lecture from Mike Perez’s Intro to Physical Education Class. The material is a combination of Mike’s extensive experience as well as notes from a talk by Dr. Gregory Dell, Professor of Sport Psychology and Sport Ethics at Duke University (excellenceinperformance.com). If you’re in the South Bay Area and are serious about physical education and development, I highly recommend taking Mike’s course (PE.30) at West Valley College.