Here’s the bottom line coaches. We have information that we need our players to know. We have new info, corrections, instructions, and questions that need to be answered. Our players need to hear and absorb this info, the quicker the better. They need to think about it, understand it, manipulate it in their minds so they can go and apply it.
For this transaction to take place successfully we need WIFI. By that I mean, we need a connection to send this info through. Connections require two sides that are effectively working – the sending side needs to send out a clear message that alerts the receiver that it applies to them, is safe to hear, and grabs their interest. The receiving side needs to be in the correct state of mind to process that info, feel that it applies to them, is more interesting than the surrounding distractions, and start the processing sequence or it all drops and we have to start over.
Here’s what I see going on all over the place with teams – Our WIFI is down. Its broken. The connection isn’t there so we do what every good person does when the WIFI is down, we get louder, irritated, frustrated, start blaming and pointing fingers and throwing our hands up in the air. Ever see a half time talk look like that?
If your players aren’t eagerly awaiting information and excited to try it out, there’s a good chance that your connection is down. Forcing the info at a louder, angrier, or more anxious tone won’t make it get through any better. Adding some insults, doubts, and questioning their effort, commitment, or ability will quickly cut off a connection, sometimes permanently.
You have to fix the connection if you want to fix the players. If you want anything to get through, this has to happen first or you’ll feel like your battling, dragging, pleading and banging your head to the end of your season.
Two coaches, side by side. One is yelling, pointing out mistakes, and failures to a group of players whose heads are dropping lower by the second. Maybe they aren’t even paying attention, maybe they’ve shut off. The second coach is looking into the eyes of a team that is requesting to learn. The coach is explaining, answering questions, and looking for where things are working and going well to a group of players who are processing the info and figuring out how to apply it. Which one do you see yourself as? What reflects back at you when you talk to your team? If it’s shame, fear, indifference, or boredom then you’re OFFLINE.
There is no benefit to yelling. None. You can scream at a broken connection all day but you’ll never get the info through. Connect with your players and send them information that they will be receptive too. Info that will challenge them to think about how they can apply it. Send it in a way that helps them know you are giving them this info because you believe they can execute the ideals behind it. See the difference in a team connected with their coach, and feel the difference in your stress level and enjoyment of coaching.
How do you build connections?
- Value them equally as much when they fall as when they rise. Consistently.
- Hold them accountable, but don’t live inside a box of rules and consequences.
- Talk to them with respect
- Allow them to be human. Allow yourself to be human. Vulnerability and forgiveness are not weakness.
- Empathy. You can’t be too hard on a player if you truly allow yourself to feel what they are feeling as you go into a conversation. You’ll know better what they need and choose words wisely.
- Remember that you are in a position of people development. You are never the game-maker shifting chess pieces for a title or a trophy or a banner. Develop the players to their max potential, and let them fight for the win with the tools you provide.
How’s your team’s connection? Is your WIFI down or going strong?