Coaches are talking to players all the time – about skills, corrections, strategies, behaviors and responsibilities. But how you talk to them makes all the difference.
Learn 3 vital keys to help Construct vs Destruct your players.
Have you ever built something? I don’t mean you built a house or anything like that. I mean, have you taken your kids blocks and built a super structure? Or made a monster out of Legos, or a pyramid out of plastic cups? Most of us have built something like that if not all of these things. Building things takes imagination and time. You have to first figure out what you’re going to build, and then you’ve got to slowly start to do it.
Once you finished your work of art, how long did it take to knock it down? No time at all, right? Bam! One hand right in the middle of it and the whole thing’s destroyed.
Coaching is just like that! Building or constructing our players and their skills takes time. It takes a plan and imagination. Lots of diligent work goes into helping our players build themselves into better players.
But, just like our pyramid of cups, destructing a player can happen just like that! Boom, one wrong or harsh word and all that work can be destroyed.
1. Construction takes time. It’s slow; it requires thoughtful and diligent work. You’ve got to stay attentive to your building project and always be watchful for anything that could destroy it, and you’ve got to constantly work on it or else it gets weak.
Constructing, or building our players comes in all forms. It can be a huge smile and welcome when you see the player at practice, or a couple extra tosses in the batting cage to help the player work through an issue. It can be making your player’s self-talk be positive-first by having them say their thoughts out load, or helping them stay patient as they struggle through new or faster skills. Building stronger, better players takes constant and diligent effort – but always in a positive and helpful way!
2. Destruction on the other hand happens fast, and, it’s casual. A lack of attention to your everydays, or a mindless remark to a player that’s struggling, or an angry response to a player who wasn’t even the source of your frustration and just like that – you’re back at the beginning!
Destroying or tearing down something is quick, and relatively easy. It doesn’t take much work or effort on your part to destroy any amount of progress or to ignore giving a compliment because you think that player should know what she’s doing right. Maybe you’re having a bad day so you take the easy way out and dump your bad day on the heads of your players by barking at them or getting angry for things they aren’t even doing wrong. Those things are easy to do as life collides with our coaching – but easy is the whole point of destruction. Destroying things is easy.
It can also happen casually which means we sometimes don’t even notice it. Those things we do every day without paying close attention – those can be destruction traps! While your players might think they don’t need to pay attention because of “muscle memory”, it’s exactly those times that sloppiness creeps in which is the start of a skill going downhill. Be diligent and have your players stay tuned in to the skill they’re doing, always knowing that destructing that skill is a mindless rep away.
- Bad is 5 times stronger than good. – Which means we need to be intentionally positive all the more. Research shows that bad events wear off more slowly than good ones – which is REALLY important for us to remember as coaches. It means that our players tend to hold on much longer to things they did wrong, or mistakes they made, or negative comments we say to them. It doesn’t matter whether they should or shouldn’t – the point is that most of them do. So, we need to do our best to create a stronger positive environment. We’ve got to work to make sure we’re giving them legitimate compliments (“Cindy, you hit that one really hard” instead of “ quit popping up!”), and we also need to help them start their self-talk with something they did right! We’ve got to remember that bad events wear off more slowly than good ones, which is why you no doubt still remember that one game you could have won if only….and the rest of that sentence is something bad that happened.
For more help with constructing your players, check out Cindy’s Book: A Coach’s Guide to Creating Team Chemistry: Tips on Coaching Female Athletes