Communication is very essential element in sports today. Every experienced coach can tell you about the dozens of tricks that they’ve learned over their years of service. They’ll tell you about how they motivate their players, how they establish discipline, most of them will even be able to give you a few tricks about how to deal with the referees and umpires that you’ll be dealing with. When they are done, you’ll be left with one conclusion; most of what they are discussing comes down to communication.
There is no doubt that good coaches communicate well—what a concept! You’d think that this would be obvious, but so many coaches struggle with this on a regular basis. Many young coaches think that they ought to automatically get respect from their players and the game officials; but like most things, they have to learn to earn it. Good communication skills will accelerate this process.
It starts with the initial meeting; first impressions count for a great deal! Dress well, hold your head up high, look into their eyes when you are speaking, and always speak slowly and clearly. Treat everyone with the respect that you hope to earn. Yes, it is best to give this respect away, even though you are working to earn your own.
Listen when others speak; and consider what they have to say before you respond. Ask questions! Make sure that you understand their point of view before continuing the conversation. When you disagree, do so respectfully and with restraint. Clearly state your case and avoid repeating the same points over and over.
Always remember who or what you are speaking to, and pay attention to the situation that you are in. You cannot use the same logic and vocabulary with a group of eight-year-old players that you would with a group of college athletes. You might be able to yell at a lagging older player during drills, but you can’t do the same thing to a third grader or an Umpire during a dispute.
Above all, always… ALWAYS remember that the world does not revolve around you. Every player, parent, spectator, and game official has their own beliefs and set(s) of priorities. Very few of these people will bend to your desires just because you are a coach. Be prepared to negotiate for what you want, and always remember that if you follow these guidelines, you will earn their respect in the long run.