“When it comes to how you communicate and how you teach, that really depends on the player.” – Brad Faxon

Brad Faxon is really smart and a great listen, not just about golf but about the mental side of competition. If you get a chance listen to his podcast with No Laying Up that came out recently. So much good stuff in there including his approach to working with Rory McIlroy on his putting.

The above quote really stood out to me as both simple and true.

In an individual sport like golf it seems to make more sense – when you teach different players you have to adjust the way you communicate to them based on their personality. What’s really important is how they receive the message, and you have to figure out the best way to deliver it so they receive it properly. But in team sports we don’t think about it as much. The coach is seen as the authority figure and the players are generally supposed to his style. But that doesn’t seem like the most effective way to communicate. It’s important to think about the best way to deliver the message to each individual player.

Your senior first team all league guard and your freshmen back-up center might not receive your message the same way. Now obviously you can’t deliver 15 different messages every time you make a point in practice, but that’s not the point. You need to think about each player on your team, and think about the way they receive your message. You may have to grab a couple of guys individually after you’ve really gotten on the team about something because they might not handle it as well. Certain players can take hard coaching, process it and move on. But not everyone can. So having the pulse of each individual is very important.

This is where individual meetings and conversations are very important, so you not only get to know the personalities of each of your players, but you come to understand how they are receiving your message. You’ll get feedback on the best way to connect, and who you have to keep an eye on in practice.

I remember Bobby Bailey, who was the player of the year for us at Rhode Island College used to say to me after practice “You can yell at me Coach. I like when you yell at me.” I thought Bobby, especially as a younger player, was a little sensitive and I probably wanted to go easy on him. He was also extremely talented, so I knew if I let him be he was going to produce. But he told me he wanted me to get after him, something I probably didn’t know from my first read.

So think about it. So much of effective individual coaching and communicating comes down the person you are coaching. In individual sports it seems to make a lot of sense. If Brad Faxon only coached Rory McIlroy the way Brad felt the most comfortable, and it didn’t fit with Rory, he would just fire him and move on. So as an individual instructor you kind of have to adjust. But if it’s the most effective way to coach, we should be doing it in team sports as well.

Pay attention to the individuals you are coaching, and figure out the most effective way to get to all of them.

“When it comes to how you communicate and how you teach, that really depends on the player.” – Brad Faxon

Simple, yet really effective.

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