Coach Communication (Part 5)

By Craig Sigl

(If you have not read Parts 1-4 you may do so here, beginning with our January, 2018 issue)

12) Put down on paper your philosophies and rules. Give to both kids and parents.

I am forever asked questions that are along the lines of this pattern:

“Craig, what can I do when (bad thing) happens?”

It is so much more efficient (and I’m an efficiency fanatic) to ask the question:

“Craig, how can I stop (bad thing) from happening?”

You as a coach know all too well that if a player only learns from making mistakes AFTER the fact, then it’s going to be a rough time for that player during the season, right? One of my favorite success principles is: PREFRAME everything!

Human beings do so much better when operating within frameworks. Since you are in charge, give it to them! Spell out as much as possible on a sheet or two of paper about how you are going to run things at the beginning of the season (and remind them throughout the season) and then simply stick to it!

People are afraid of the unknown and they lash out when they perceive unfairness. In the absence of your rules and philosophies, it’s much easier for them to think you are unfair and you are going to pay the price for it. The key to getting the most from this is to go into as much detail as you can like a roadmap.

Be deadly accurate honest about how are going to coach and go over specific things like:

How you make decisions for playing time, starting positions
• How much value you place on hustle at practice. What does that look like?
• How much will numbers/stats play a part. Which stats?
• How much being a “team player” matters and then define what you will be looking for.
• What specific behaviors in practice or games will reduce chances of more playing time
• Could you have a rough “scoring” system for that to put an assistant coach in charge of?

Philosophies about sport and/or coaching.
How important is winning vs. skill development to you.
Whose coaching style has influenced you? A mentor? Retired coach author?
A specific grievance/feedback process for parents and another one for players (tell them exactly how to get your attention, when, where, etc. )
What is not tolerated and the consequences if discovered

Spell it all out! Be specific. Don’t make people guess about you and what’s important to you as their coach. Take full advantage of your players’ desire to please you. I bet if you start this today, you will continually add to it as you go and eventually it will be like a mini company policy book and it will get better with time and you can re-use it every season.

Believe me, people appreciate knowing what they are getting into that is all out in the open for everyone to see…ESPECIALLY THE PARENTS. By the way, when you do this, a byproduct benefit is that you will become much more congruent and consistent in your actions which will be noticed by all. That’s leadership!

The idea of “unfairness” moving through a team or the parents is a cancer that destroys performance. PREFRAME how you operate and eliminate the problem. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

13) Project openness and be an active listener to get valuable info.

Yes, I know some coaches are not really interested in being good listeners but I’m here to tell you that you are blowing it if you ignore this side of the coin of communication. I see no reason for you, as a coach and leader, to give off the attitude that you are unapproachable or scary to talk to. Any one of your players, assistant coaches and yes, the parents, may just give you a nugget of information one day that saves you and/or your team some serious difficulties at the very least and at best, point something out that you have missed that makes the difference in a game situation.

If you watch the TV show, Game of Thrones, you know there is a character named Lord Varys. His special power is that he has “spies” or “little birdies” everywhere whom he has cultivated relationships with that constantly feed him information. Information is power! In the show, with no ability to fight, no royal blood, no family tradition, no wealth, he is a major player who makes big things happen and kings and queens consult him.

You don’t have to use all the information you get, and yes, you will get a lot of useless information to sift through if you truly are open to receiving it. But I promise you, it’s worth it. There is one trick to making this work without driving yourself crazy. I’m guessing that reading this tip, some coaches are thinking something like – “That’s all I need is to open myself up to all sorts of complaining and whining and I don’t have time for it and I have to tell them things they don’t want to hear anyway.”

I get that, but what you are missing in that equation is this:

In order to be a powerful info gatherer (active listener), you don’t have to agree to or promise any change or action on your part based on what they are saying in order to cultivate the benefits like Lord Varys. In other words, people just want to be heard and validated! That in and of itself is a valuable commodity.

That’s actually more important to them than you doing anything with what they say. For example… Parent comes to you after the game and says: “My kid should be the starter because he is putting up more points than the starters you have out there.” The basics of your response will be:
“Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying. You think that your kid should be getting more time than some of the other starters because he is scoring more points when he does play than today’s starters. Do I have that right?”

Parent answers “Yes” or adds some more clarity.

You answer back repeating back anything additional they just said finishing with another sentence to make sure they know they have been HEARD. You end it with something like:

“I really appreciate you coming to me with that feedback, I will definitely take it into consideration with my decision-making process. Anything else? I can’t promise you anything here except that your feedback is important to me and well taken.”

What most people do is skip the middle part of the conversation where they repeat back what the other person said (You can do it word for word or by paraphrasing). This is the key that gets the person off your back and prevents the cancers from ruining things (as best as you’re going to get). That’s called validation and just know that people crave it!

Do not skip the validation part! Of course the other person hopes you change your actions based on their feedback but they will feel an unconscious satisfaction from simply having been truly heard. Do NOT underestimate this power, it goes a long way to keeping people from the“unfairness” problem blowing up on you.

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting: http://MentalToughnessTrainer.com

Next: Part 6

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: