What if we could create a culture of smart thinking with our teams? We all want athletes who love our sport and who are students of the game. I think we can encourage smart thinking and increase the passion our athletes have for our sport all at the same time.
Create a culture of smart thinking in 5 steps
- Say “bye bye” to multitasking. Does your team perform warmup drills while chatting about their day and the killer test they had to take? Which one are they doing really well? Because it’s been proven time and again that we think we can multitask…but we can’t. Practice time is practice time, our players can chit chat at water breaks, after practice, or in the locker room.
- Encourage openness. Sometimes players see correction as a bad thing and aren’t willing to step out of their comfort zone to try new things. They’re like a baby who just crawls everywhere because it has no idea how amazing walking is. As coaches, we’ve got to create practices where our players feel comfortable making mistakes and putting themselves in position to fail so that they can get better. Being closed off to trying new things will doom our players to a life of stagnant skills.
- We before me. Sport is an interesting arena. On one hand, we celebrate the individual…just check the box scores after your game. On the other hand, we know that it takes the team to succeed. Encouraging teamwork in an area where individual stats are important is a tricky maneuver. The savvy coach will pick some of the more influential players and make sure they’ve bought into team achievement, that way you’ve got someone supporting your mission when you’re not around.
- Create learning environments. As a coach, it’s easy to fall into telling our players what to do and how to do it in every situation. It’s easier because we know the answers already…but our players don’t. But they need to learn how to think, reason, deduce, take what the game is giving them on their own. If we never challenge our players to reason through game situations, they won’t learn those lessons. Instead they’ll be that player who is always staring at the bench instead of staying engaged in the game.
- Support smart habits. Certain things we do in our sport should be habit. Much like we don’t have to think about which pedal is the gas and which is the brake in our cars, there should be some no-brainers with our players. Since I’m a volleyball coach, I make sure that we drill enough that our players shouldn’t have to think through each step of an effective serve…it’s a no-brainer. Beyond that, certain habits (like warmup rituals) put our teams into a practice or game state of mind.
I’m sure you’re like me and want a team of smart players who understand your game and have a high sports IQ. I think we can create an environment that’s conducive to those kinds of players if we follow those steps. Check out the original post from Smart Blogs, 5 ways to promote a culture of smart thinking.