What are some common mistakes coaches make? We asked around and found that most of them have to do with communication. When to communicate, how to effectively communicate, what to communicate and what not to.
A couple of the coaches we talked to noted that negative communication is a common problem.
“It may sound strange that we have to counsel coaches not to insult the young people they mean to instruct and inspire, but I see it happen every weekend,” says Roy Dunshee Head Soccer Coach at Washington College in Maryland and an instructor with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
“Coaches shout out all the things the players are doing wrong — “We need a better touch” … “That’s not good enough” … “What were you thinking?” continues Dunshee “These remarks are demeaning. They insult the player and rattle confidence.”
Jeff Bateson is the Assistant Coach at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and the former Head Coach at Guilford College. He cringes when he hears coaches talk down to players, treating players like they aren’t smart enough to comprehend.
“It’s an issue I often see and hear,” he says. “Not only using poor — or worse, foul — language, but the coaches are speaking like the player they’re talking to doesn’t understand.”
Dunshee believes coaches who demonstrate this type of negative communication are protecting their own image.
“They demonstrate to all the spectators that they recognize that the players did something wrong so it’s not the coach’s fault. He’s great. It’s the players who are the problem. Coaches who do this frequently lead from a position of intimidation. This is the fastest way to destroy intrinsic motivation and ruin an experience for a player.”
Bateson has a simple guideline he follows that he’s found has resonated with this team and helped them break through to the next level.
“Speak at players like you want to be spoken to,” he says. “Be respectful in your language and they’ll generally be respectful in listen back to you.”