Coaching Tips: How to Be Direct without Crossing the Line

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As a coach, it’s not in your job description to produce less than average players, to beat around the bush, give them the easy route or be their best friend. It’s your job to tell your team what they are doing right and wrong – it’s your job to make them better. But it’s also not your job to be the ultimate self-esteem crusher and send players home crying. So how do you do it? How do you be direct without crossing the line? It’s a fine line and many coaches find themselves straddling it. So here are 5 tips to being a successful, clear and direct coach without going too far. The goal? No more straddling coaches.

Be very aware of both your position and your power.

As a coach, you’re in a position where you can greatly influence the lives of athletes both on and off the field. You have the power to make or break a high school experience, build or destroy self-esteem and feed or distinguish passion. You need to be aware of your power and the consequence of your words and actions (be it positive or negative). If you are using fear, disrespect, humiliation or demeaning behaviors as your main coaching tactics, we can tell you right now – you are misusing both your position and power and you are crossing the line.

Make your motives clear.

Your motives for being a coach must be clear. If you care more about developing talent than winning, make it known. If winning is your only driving force, tell them. If your focus this year is to build teamwork – drive that into their brains. When a player understands the reasoning behind your criticism, it’s easier for them to take it well.

In addition, make sure your motives align with your words and actions. You can imagine the confusion and hurt feelings (and calls from parents) that come from a coach who tells their players they really care about them, but continually makes personal jabs at their character during practice (i.e.: “what’s wrong with you?!”)

Give clear and helpful feedback.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “praise in public, criticize in private” and while there are good intentions there, we don’t agree. As a coach, it is your job to both praise AND criticize in public. When you make corrections in the company of your team, it sets the standard of what is acceptable and what is not. However, when you criticize in public, you better make sure it is beneficial, clear and your team knows your motive behind it. It is possible to be demanding without being demeaning – we like to call it having a “compassionate edge”.

Be direct with everyone.

It’s inevitable – you are going to have favorites and there are going to be athletes that push your buttons and test your patience. Refrain from only praising your favorites and only criticizing the players you dislike. When you act on favoritisms it can be very demotivating to the rest of your team. Praise everyone and criticize everyone.

Utilize your assistant coaches.

They are there to help you – let them help you with more than just coaching. Establish an open relationship with them where they feel comfortable telling you when you’ve crossed the line. They can keep you in check. If you allow them to, assistant coaches will help you move forward in a functional, effective, competitive way – where there is a mutual respect between coaches and players.

We’ve all been there. The moment when you’re so frustrated, let down, annoyed, or angry at the outcome of a game, the performance of a player or the calls made in a game. Sometimes you’re just physically and emotional spent because #life. It’s not the end of the world if you lose your cool and cross the line – we’re all human. But we’re sure that no negative consequences will come from a humble coach, admitting to their team that they crossed the line, then moving forward in a clear and compassionate direction.

#BeBetter #CoachBetter #GetYourProlookOn

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