1. Communicate with your players as individuals get to know your players. Each players mind is different; they each take in information and process it differently. Do not assume that you are being totally understood all of the time, especially with children.
2. Have team meetings – meetings that provide a forum for give-and-take with a coach are always a good idea. Let your players know what you like about their performance and what you would like to see them do differently. Allow them to do the same. Communication is a two-way street. If all they hear is the coachs dialogue and are not given an opportunity to respond, the coach risks his players tuning out and shutting down.
3. Be a good listener – communication is about more than speaking; it is also about listening. If you expect your players to listen to what you have to say, then you must be willing to listen to them, as well.
4. Think before speaking – before reacting to a situation, think about the ramifications of what you will say to your team. If your team is not performing, take a few minutes to figure out what you can say to inspire them to raise their intensity and fight.
5. Speak with respect do not shout at your players or interrupt them when they are speaking. Most coaches would not allow players to do that to them, so why should they act that way with their players?
6. Explain yourself – when discussing game strategies or making adjustments at halftime, explain why you are making changes and what the implications are for your players. If players do not understand why you are changing something, they are less likely to be effective in putting those changes into action.
7. Create an open door policy letting players know you are there for them when they have a problem is essential to your teams success. If they feel they can talk to you about problems with teammates, team rules, etc. you will create an environment that fosters two-way communication and builds trust and respect.
8. Use humor this is another effective, yet underused, communication tool. A quick joke can help defuse difficult situations and relieve tension.
It is all about dialogue and delivery. The coach sets the tone. Create a safe environment that focuses on learning new skills and strategies, creating positive relationships and daily interactions, and increasing self-esteem and self confidence.
Anne Smith, Ph.D. Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved.