Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Speak Their Language

As a coach, one of the best ways to relate to an athelte is to "speak their language". Of course a coaching prerequisite would never be learning every language in the World to better prepare yourself to coach athletes of all backgrounds, but I would never despute that as being a bad thing.

More of what I am getting at here is understanding the athlete and speak in terms corresponding to what they are going to understand and become intrigued by. This will give them a better connection to what they are doing and why they are doing it which is very helpful in convincing the athlete that is not as internally driven to succeed.

For example, as a strength and conditioning coach, I want the BU tennis athletes to increase their vertical jump height. For this reason, we do a lot of plyometrics and various movement drills to stimulate this sort of development. However, when the BU tennis team is in the weight room, you may NEVER hear me say the word "vertical jump". This is because most of them could probably care less about a height they can jump because it does not seem important to them as tennis players (in fact, the women's team would probably leave the room if I ever did mention the term). Instead, I OFTEN say things like "this will increase your serve velocity" or "this exercise makes you faster on the courts, so you can return more balls". These types of phrases are things they want to hear! This is just one example, but I could come up with 1,000 more that are commonly used. Remember some of the guidelines of effective feedback: feedback should be relevant.

The atheltes could care less what jump height they can or should get, but they want the rationale behind increased performance. Try to speak their language more often and see if this makes a difference in the athletes attentiveness and motivation.

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