This article from Coaches Network discusses ideas to help you make your communication in practice more effective.
By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA, CIC
On the surface, communicating with players during a practice session may seem simple. You talk, they listen. But good communication entails much more. It needs to be done in an effective manner for each individual, as different people process information in different ways.
As a coach, you are a teacher and you spend most of your time at practice in an instructional mode. As such, you should always be clear, concise, specific, and appropriate. The following are some suggestions that should help:
To ensure that the athletes focus on what you are saying, always stop the drill. Eliminate any and all distractions.
Make sure that only one coach speaks at a time. This way, athletes are totally focused on the correction, point of instruction, or any explanation given.
Always use the same, consistent terminology to teach any skill or concept. Key words are developed with this approach and these cues should also be used during games, which should prevent misunderstanding and any accompanying mistakes.
Prepare your practice plans very carefully in the same manner as a classroom teacher does with his or her lesson plans. With time very limited for drills and instruction, explanations have to be brief and yet provide all of the necessary information. To meet this expectation, it takes time and thought to plan what and how you are going to introduce and explain skills and concepts. Long, rambling dissertations won’t work.
Deal with mistakes and possible ensuing frustration in a calm, instructional manner. It is important to remember that all students, and this includes athletes, learn at their own rate. This means that you may have to repeat explanations, reteach skills, and provide additional opportunities for more repetitions.
Never use foul or inappropriate language, even in moments when you might be aggravated or want to add emphasis. There simply is no place in education to address students in this manner.
Always be positive and encouraging in your interactions with your players. Sure, your athletes will make some mistakes as everyone does. But most individuals respond much better to positive reinforcement than stinging criticism.
While you may never have thought about how you communicate with your players during practice sessions, it is critical to your success. Knowing the skills and concepts of your sport is not enough. You have to effectively transmit this knowledge to your athletes, which takes time, effort, and thought. Exemplary coaches constantly work at and refine their communication skills and delivery methods.