December 2, 2008
Winning the Mental Way by Karlene Sugarman
Here is a Chapter from "Winning the Mental Way " which shows us the importance of Communication…..
Communication is the Key (Chapter Five)
The art of communication is something that tends to be overlooked, and/or taken for granted, in teams - until there is a breakdown in that communication. Then it becomes a hot topic. Teams shouldn't wait until there is a breakdown to address and improve on its communication skills. This chapter will address how to improve communication and listening skills among teams, since communication is a key ingredient in a team working well together and being successful.
We tend to communicate with others in two ways: with words and with body language. You must be consistent in both verbal and behavioral communication. It is said that body language, gestures and facial expressions account for as much as 50-75% of communication. You constantly need to watch your body language (gestures, facial expressions, voice inflections, posture changes). Many times, how you say something is more significant than what you are actually saying. You must follow through with what is said with the appropriate actions and be consistent with content and emotion. People tend to remember 75% of what they hear and see - so if your actions and words are in sync it will be the most powerful. The foundation for communication is mutual respect and trust for all members of the team. It's not just what you say, but how you say it. It is important for there to be effective 2-way communication between players and coaches and among the players themselves. As a coach, you must have credibility among your team for communication to be most effective.
Game Day Communication
You shouldn't change anything in the way you communicate with your team just because it is game day. Your game approach should be the same as your practice approach. You should stay consistent and never show any signs of panic in either your body language or your voice. Many coaches talk about late game strategy, half-time pep talks, etc. My opinion is that you should communicate in an even tone going over the basics of what needs to be done and, if you deem it appropriate, you can remind them of what they've sacrificed to be here (6:00 am practices, long days, etc.). With regards to time-outs, it is a time to build confidence by being positive, adjust the game plan if necessary, and stress the goals that have been set.
There also needs to be clear communication among the players on the field. If there is lack of communication on the field it can cost you a run, and can contribute to a victory for the other team. "A confused army leads to another's victory" Signs, verbals and cues must be well known so that there isn't any disarray or chaos in the heat of competition. For example, if a catcher is unsure of signs and has to keep starting over, it can disrupt the rhythm of the pitcher.
After a good performance (I don't say after a win, because a team can play great and still lose the game) it is important to give a lot of positive feedback as to what went well and contributed to the exceptional quality performance. It is also just as important to go over a couple of areas where improvements can still be made. After a poor performance (again, you can still win even if the performance wasn't up to par) it is important to find things that were positive, then point out what wasn't executed properly and needs to be worked on, and finish up with something positive to keep them motivated and positive for the next game and/or practice. Also, never reprimand an individual in front of the team, only praise them. Reprimanding them in public can be damaging to their self-esteem. If a player did something that was costly during the game, he knows it, the coach shouldn't make it worse by yelling at him in front of the whole team.
Basically, you should approach both in a similar fashion. Whether it was a win or loss, the approach should be the same. You should praise what they did well, give your critique, and then finish up with something positive and encouraging. Former coach for New Orleans Saints, Bum Phillips, said, "People are human. If you are going to criticize them, compliment them first"
Check back next week for the continuation of this interesting Chapter on Communication.