What is One Huge Role of a Coach?
Set the Tone – Create the Culture
One of the most critical responsibilities of an effective leader is to consistently and continually take a positive approach to each day of the year. There are many things that potentially bring coaches down. It can be an upset parent, player issues, lack of support from administration, or working with not enough resources. These are facts of the job and of life. Our role as coaches is to continually take a positive approach. Understanding the impact and power of praise is essential.
Let me ask you a question: Have you ever been praised too much? Of course not! We can never get enough praise. Coaches, there are 5 things to remember that help praise work:
1) Authentic – means make it real. Players know when you aren’t being truthful.
2) Specific – “Good Job!” just doesn’t cut it. “Good job with that read on down angle to get us an extra base.” Is specific and authentic.
3) Immediate – Don’t wait until the next practice or even the end of the game. Praise right then and there.
4) Clean – no need to add an extra language that is not needed. You don’t want to remember someone’s praise years from now with an F-Bomb attached to it.
5) Private – If you do it privately you it is of more valuable to the individual and others will still see that a conversation is being had and see the players response and want that type of praise too.
Why Coaches Don’t Praise More?
When I work with coaches I often ask them why we as people don’t praise more. After all, we determine how much we praise, and every time we praise someone, at least two people feel better – and one of them is us. With this in mind, why is it coaches are so hesitant to praise? Here are some of the most common responses I get from coaches.
Rationale: If I praise someone, he or she will stop working.
Response: What is it that keeps you on a exercise/diet routine longer? Is it when people mention how good you look, or is it when people say, “It’s about time.” As long as it is authentic, praise is a very powerful reinforce and motivator.
If you have just finished mowing the field and the opposing coach shows up that night and compliments on how great it looks, do you mow it less carefully next time? Quite the opposite. Next time you might even trim it. If you think praise doesn’t work, why don’t you come over to my house and look at my neighbors lawn.
Rationale: If I praise players more, I might miss someone and hurt their feelings.
Response: I guess it is better to never praise anyone. That way you miss everyone and you can make sure you hurt their feelings – and everyone else’s, while you’re at it. Ironically, it might not be their feelings we are worried about. It could easily be that we don’t want to feel bad because we miss someone or because we might be afraid of a players response so we don’t take the chance on any type of acknowledgement.
The biggest reason people resent others being praised is because they do not feel valued themselves. The solution to this is not to praise less, but to be much more inclusive and effusive in your efforts to recognize and praise your players.
Rationale: I don’t have the time.
Response: After all, we barely have enough to get in a meal after we have set up the practice plan, got the line-up ready, checked-in with our assistant coaches, made sure the field is ready to go, checked-in with the significant other, amongst a million other things I am not listing. Name the three best coaches you know in your own program or ones you play against. Is there any overlap there? By setting a positive tone, the coach can help direct the interactions of everyone on the team. Making sure we do this, even when we least feel like it, is essential.
The last thing to keep in mind is that it is fun to praise and very rejuvenating. By focusing on all of the positive things in our program/teams, and there are many, we can have more drive and energy to help get us through some of the less positive times. If you as a coach do not set this tone, it is very unlikely that it will get set. And, maybe even more importantly, if this productive focus does not become intrinsic in the program, then the voices of the nay-sayers are likely to become even more dominant.