If you want to coach a composed team, the players need to play for a composed coach.
The most important thing you can do as a coach is connect with your players. Regardless of what system you play, what your team approach is or what type of kids you have, the only way to consistently get the message across is to connect with your players. So the question becomes what’s the best way to connect?
Players want to know what to expect. They want consistency. Most players realize there are times when they are going to get yelled at, and times where they may be on the line for repeated bad behavior. But the more I coach the more I realize they want to have a feel for when this is going to happen. They want to know what the standards are and they realize when the don’t live up to them – as an individual or a team – their will be consequences. But if you are inconsistent with your behavior or your message, the players will tune you out.
Players have to get used to listening to you to comprehend the message. They have to hear what you are saying and be able to process the message to respond properly to it. My experience is that most players want to be coached. They want to know that you can make them better, and when they believe that they want to listen to you. When they believe you are going to make them better, and they get used to listening to you and the way you deliver it, you can consistently get your message across.
When your players hear the message and believe in the message, they start to believe in you. That is where a strong connection develops. That’s what allows you to really coach them, and at times coach them hard. Once you have that connection, when you get upset at something your players will still continue to listen to the message.
A key to your ability to connect is your composure. As I watch games and practices and see how kids respond to being coached, the coaches who really connect are the ones who stay composed. Kids are looking them in the eye and responding to the message. When a coach reacts emotionally and gets upset, a lot of players turn him off. When a coach is constantly emotional, the kids don’t really pay attention to the message. The more composed you are as a coach, the more your players will listen to the message.
When your players hear the message and believe in the message, they will believe in you. Your ability to stay composed is what allows your players to hear the message consistently, and understand what is being asked of them. When you do get emotional, they’ll realize that something is wrong and must be corrected. They won’t just turn you off, because they don’t see you reacting emotionally all of the time.
Your level of composure as a coach directly relates to your ability to connect with them. When they hear the message in a consistent fashion, they are better able to understand. How they respond over time has a lot to do with how you deliver the message each day. The less emotional you are, the better your ability to connect.