Five Steps to Becoming a More Effective Coach
Are you the coach you would like to be? If you were an athlete, would you want to play for yourself as a coach? Based on an excerpt from the Seven Secrets of Successful Coaches book, the following article encourages you to invest the time to assess and evaluate your effectiveness as a coach.
2 Assess Your Credibility
Although you are probably proud of many aspects of your coaching, virtually every coach has areas where they want to improve.
This article allows you to reflect on, assess, and strengthen your coaching skills and philosophy. In doing so, you will maximize your potential and the potential of the athletes you effectively coach.
A FIVE-STEP APPROACH TO IMPROVING YOUR CREDIBILITY
Here is a step-by-step process that will help you assess, improve, and strengthen your credibility. This process will allow you to gauge your present credibility in various ways.
Next, it will help you pinpoint your current strengths as well as your areas for improvement. Finally, you can build on your strengths and target some of your sites for development.
Assess Your Credibility
You can assess your credibility in a variety of ways. First, rate your credibility. Then strongly consider having your athletes rank your credibility for a more complete and accurate measure.
“Would You Play for Yourself?” Reflection, One of the more powerful ways to assess your credibility is to reflect on and honestly answer the following question: “Would you play for yourself?” Imagine being an athlete who plays on your team.
Would you be motivated to give your best? Would you respect and trust me? Where would your confidence be if you were your coach? Would you develop to your full potential if you were coaching yourself?
Reflecting on the hypothetical question, “Would you play for yourself?” is a potent exercise. If the question causes uneasiness, embarrassment, or regret, now is the perfect time to become a more credible coach. If you have a hard time playing for yourself, then it stands to reason that your athletes may feel the same way.
Credible Coaching Self Assessment
A second way to evaluate your credibility is to rate yourself on the Seven Secrets of Successful Coaches using a one to ten scales. This short self-test will help you analyze your strengths as a coach as well as your areas for improvement. Be sure to be completely honest with yourself.
Using a scale from one (strongly disagree) to ten (strongly agree), rate yourself on the following characteristics:
- Character-based – I act in an ethical, honest, and trustworthy manner.
- Competent – I have a solid understanding of my sport’s rules, mechanics, and strategies.
- Committed – I work hard and am committed to building a successful program.
- Caring – I genuinely care about my athletes and their overall success.
- Confidence builder – I effectively build and maintain my athletes’ confidence.
- Communicator – I am an effective communicator and listener.
- Consistent – I am consistent in terms of my mood and my approach to team discipline.
Rarely has any coach given him or herself a perfect score on all of the characteristics. You will find that you have some strengths and areas to improve. Reflecting on and rating your credibility provides you with a good starting point. Great athletes always give you true feedback.
Have Your Athletes Assess Your Credibility
Keep in mind that your athletes ultimately evaluate your credibility. They are the true judges of your effectiveness. You might be able to trick yourself into thinking that your athletes respect you, but as the saying goes, you can’t kid a kid.
Because your athletes are the ultimate evaluators of your credibility, they are the best people to help you assess where you stand.
Having your athletes give honest feedback on your effectiveness might sound like a scary and vulnerable proposition to some coaches. But you will only obtain a better or more accurate appraisal of your credibility than directly asking your athletes.
Think of it this way. How much feedback do you give your athletes regarding their performances over a typical season? If you’re like most coaches, you are continually providing them with suggestions, corrections, and compliments.
The vast quantity and quality of your feedback are designed to help them improve their performances. Imagine if you never provided your athletes with any positive or negative feedback.
How well would they develop and improve? They would only improve less with your feedback. Thus if feedback is so crucial for your athletes, it is equally as essential for you too.
Protect Your Athletes’ Anonymity and Confidentiality
If you decide to ask your athletes to rate your credibility, the process must be anonymous and confidential. Your athletes will not be completely truthful with you if they think their identity or comments might be revealed in any way. Therefore it is best to have an objective and trusted person, other than yourself, hand out, collect, and tally your athletes’ responses.
In addition to your athletes trusting there will not be negative consequences for their honesty, they must feel that you will sincerely consider their feedback and make changes when appropriate.
This is not to say that you must change everything they suggest. But, you must at least consider their input and be willing to modify certain aspects of your coaching style or how the program is run if your athletes indicate it will help them perform better.
You will be amazed at the respect you will earn if you are willing to listen to their feedback, honestly evaluate it, and make positive changes based on that feedback.
As you did with yourself, you can ask your athletes to rate you on a one (strongly disagree) through ten (strongly agree) scale on each of the seven characteristics. Be sure you have evaluated yourself before you have your athletes assess you.
Interpreting Your Athletes’ Feedback
When you receive feedback from your players, you must look at it as a way to improve yourself. Your first tendency is to look at the lower scores and either tries to rationalize them, deny them, or figure out who gave you the lower scores and plot your revenge against them.
I recommend something else. Instead, compare your ratings on each of the seven secrets with those of your athletes. You will likely find similarities as well as differences. Remember that your athletes’ ratings are based on their perceptions of you. You may not agree with some of them.
However, it’s your athletes’ perceptions of you which determine how they respond to you. Thus, whether or not you agree with them is beside the point – their perceptions become your reality.
Note any areas where your athletes gave you higher ratings. These are areas that your athletes see as strengths. Take a moment to reflect on why your athletes might see these areas as strengths for you.
What is it that you are doing to make them strengths? Then note any areas where your athletes gave you lower ratings. These are your areas to improve. Again, take a moment to reflect on why your athletes view these as areas of improvement for you. What are you doing now that makes them an area of concern for your athletes?
If you are willing, consider sharing your results with someone you trust and who has your best interest at heart. This could be another coach, a peak performance coach, a friend, or a spouse. This person can help you make sense of the ratings if you are still determining any of them and serve as a sounding board to help you process the information.
Be sure to thank your athletes for providing you with their honest feedback. You only need to tell them that if you want to. By opening yourself up to their feedback, you have already made a huge first step in showing them that you value their input.
Target Areas to Improve
Once you have reviewed your athletes’ feedback, you next need to target areas you would like to improve.
Gain New Ideas and Insights
Read books such as The 2R Manager, The Seven Secrets of Successful Coaches, The Leader’s Voice, etc., attend clinics, and talk with fellow coaches to refine and enhance your coaching and communication skills.
Practice and Implement Them
Try your new coaching strategies with your athletes. You may begin regularly meeting with your athletes to find out how they are doing.
Or you might work on paraphrasing what your athletes say before giving your response. Whatever the case, your credible coaching strategies should have a subtle, if not significant, impact on your athletes.
Get More Feedback
After two to three months of using your new strategies, have your athletes rate you again to see if there is any change in how your coaching is perceived. Ideally, you will see improvement in the areas you have targeted.
I suggest that coaches have their athletes evaluate their credibility roughly twice a year. Schedule an evaluation about one-third to one-half of the way into your season and the other soon after your season ends.
These periodic evaluations will help you effectively monitor your credibility and help you address potential problems before they have more serious, long-term consequences.