Coaching is so much more than knowing the X’s and O’s of our sport. A coach is a psychologist, an academic advisor, a “significant adult” in a young person’s life, a guiding post, a motivator, a conscience, and much more! If we want to reach rock star status, like the Russ Rose’s and John Wooden’s of our time, then we’ve got to consistently keep our teams motivated and engaged throughout each season. Let’s learn some tangible lessons on how we can be on our way to becoming coaching rock stars ourselves.
These 7 simple things will keep your team motivated and engaged throughout their careers.
- Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Sounds easy enough right? But how many times do we get the “drop in” visit to the office that conflicts with a meeting we have set up with an athlete? Or we tell them that we’ve got an open door policy, but when they stop in to use it…we’ve got one eye on the computer screen or on our phone. If we say what we mean and mean what we say, our teams will appreciate us for it.
- Be responsive. I’m admittedly not the best at returning emails and whatnot in a timely fashion…except for with my team. If they call or text or email, then they’ve got my attention. They know that they can count on me to answer and answer quickly.
- Publicly support your team. Obviously you support them with the press, but what about amongst each other. What if you really wanted your team to take more risks in practices and games? And what if you had a player who was willing to step out on the ledge and try all of the things that you’re asking? Wouldn’t you want to stop the drill, bring the team in, and publicly acknowledge the effort that you were seeing? Sure you would, coach!
- Admit your mistakes. This season, I moved our all-conference hitter to a defensive position. I told her about it and she basically said that while she wasn’t fired up about it, she’d do anything for the team. A month later, I told her (in front of her teammates) that I’d screwed up and moved her back to her original position.
- Give your team recognition. Midway through the season, acknowledging the effort that they’re putting in is pretty essential. The season is long, it’s tiring, it’s mentally draining…they need to know that you appreciate what they’re doing each and every day. Then you can keep figuratively kicking their butts and they’ll keep loving it.
- Ask and listen. We all know the old school coach…we may have even been coached by the old school coach. You know him, Mr. “Do As I Say And Don’t Ask Any Questions” Guy. Yeah, that won’t work these days. Asking and listening goes a long way. Even if you don’t agree with or even allow what the team wants, at least they should believe that they have your ear.
- Smile and laugh. I’m not saying that practices should be a party…I’m not the most fun person when I’m in season, to be sure. But every now and then your team needs to see a smile crack your face. And when your team goofball says something funny (and every team has a goofball!), it’s okay to laugh, coach.
That wraps up the motivation series…hope you liked it! Simple stuff for sure, but stuff that is sure to keep your team engaged and motivated and loving your sport!
Keep checking back as I continue to talk about motivation here on Coach Dawn Writes. Based on this article from The Business Insider, I’ll discuss what influences the level of engagement on your team and the do’s and don’ts of keeping your team motivated.