Effective leaders are effective communicators. Great coaches and leaders understand it’s not about what they know. Rather, it’s about how they communicate to empower those lead to achieve at a high level. Communication is key in all aspects of life, and certainly in sports.
The quality of our relationships are determined by the quality of our communication. As coaches we have three specific areas where effective communication is absolutely critical: with players, coaches, and the community.
Please consider the following suggestions to enhance your communication skills in these three vital platforms as a coach.
It’s cliche because it’s true, players don’t care what we know until they know that we care. The first step to effectively communicate with your players is to get to know them. Ask questions about the person, not the player. In doing so, we convey a sincere desire to learn about who they are as individuals. Once players feel this they will begin to trust us as leaders. Athletes begin to hear the coach’s communication more clearly once they’ve identified their care and trust.
A second key for communication with players is honesty. This can be hard at times because we want our players to like us. Communicating with players can be challenging. However, honest feedback combined with grace will create meaningful relationships. As coaches we must be able to communicate to our players what they need to hear for improvement, not necessarily what they want to hear.
A third key is listening. Coaches must be an active listener. Don’t ask for feedback and then tune it out. Some of the best feedback we receive will come back from our players. If we give the impression we have all the answers and are not open to suggestions, trust will begin to erode. Through active listening we are communicating to our players we value their input. Players will feel empowered and the program’s culture will become stronger.
When communicating with fellow coaches on staff it is important to talk with, not at them. Communication amongst coaches should be regular, honest, and open. It seems strange but there are staffs out there where communication is almost non-existent. When this occurs it’s almost impossible to create a winning culture. Coaches can and should communicate multiple times throughout the day. Whether it’s in person, text, or email, make it a priority to have open and clear communication.
Here five questions to include in your coaches meetings:
- What staff and player celebrations do we have?
- What are we doing right?
- What should we be doing to get better?
- What are our ceilings?
- What’s our why? Never lose sight of your mission and purpose in coaching.
Building a strong program certainly includes a strong rapport with the community and the parents. It’s an absolute must for a coach to effectively communicate to the community. The most important thing a coach can do is to hold parent meetings before the season.The vision and the mission of the program can be clearly articulated here. Don’t leave parents guessing. Let them know in person who you are, what you stand for, and how they can be apart of it.
Communication to parents and community members should also include email and social media handles. If used regularly and properly, these communication tools will create a positive atmosphere surrounding your program. While using social media be sure to create content which expresses the core values of your program. Another great practice would be to share posts and content from other coaches and programs who embody what you stand for.
Above all else use every outlet available to create, share, and express enthusiasm for your program. Use every opportunity to celebrate your athletes. Communicate to the community your love and pride for your athletes.
Leaders understand it’s not about them, but it’s all about those they serve.
Leadership is action, not position. Being an effective communicator for your athletes, coaches, and community is the best way to create something meaningful and larger than yourself.
As always, have fun, and Lead ‘Em Up!
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