Communicating With Coaches



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Photo by Nagel Photography/Shutterstock

In season five, episode 23 of the classic “I Love Lucy” show, Lucy finds herself in Italy, where she is chosen for a role in an Italian movie titled, “Bitter Grapes.” Not knowing one bit of Italian, she ventures out to “soak up the ‘local’ color” and ends up in a comical fiasco!

If you’re not a native Italian, would you send your son or daughter to Italy if he or she didn’t know Italian? Most likely your answer is no. Instead you might want your child to have more than a translator app, but also some command of the basics and nuances of the Italian language so he or she can get around.

When it comes to athletics, there is also a “language” aspect of authority figures (i.e. coaches) that scholar athletes should understand, and for which parents can prepare them in advance. Understanding this language will be important for your child to progress in his or her chosen athletic endeavor.

In the cited episode of “I Love Lucy,” Lucy dressed like everybody else, but she did not know the language. The Italian owner of the vineyard was not focused on how she looked, but on how she performed as a grape presser. He looked at her bigger-than-usual-feet and expected that she could squash many grapes with them. As parents of scholar athletes, it’s important to teach your son or daughter that the “language” of coaches is that of evaluation.

Always Watching

Coaches are evaluating an athlete’s performance all the time — both on and off the field. The old adage, “Actions speak louder than words,” rings true in coach country. Scholar athletes speak to coaches with their actions — what they do. A poor mindset and attitude during practice or a game will affect one’s actions and, ultimately, one’s performance. Not listening or following instructions, or not being a “good teammate,” will not put your son or daughter on the coach’s warm and fuzzy list.

I belabor the point of language for the simple reason that in a coach’s purview, an entryway for your son or daughter to effectively communicate is for him or her to first exhibit a track record of demonstrating a positive mindset, attitude and performance on the court or field.

Coaches like:

  • To have their instructions followed.
  • To see progress in a player’s skills and game-time play.
  • To identify leaders (both vocal and nonvocal).
  • To work with players who are willing to fill a role (aka put the team first).

So, as a parent, how you help your son or daughter communicate with his or her coach starts at home. It will be important for you to “just notice” the following:

  • How your child responds to being given instructions.
  • If your child thinks and/or acts like rules don’t apply to him or her.
  • How or if your child seeks and pursues improving any aspect of his or her daily life.
  • If you are verbally affirming your child’s effort and progress.

Though these are just a few examples, these “critical moments” in time shape the early parts of your child’s sports “language” acquisition. So start by determining a game plan for how you will respond to the aforementioned scenarios and make them teachable moments for your child. How your child acquires this “language” and the daily practice of learning and using it will impact the situations and scenarios your child will encounter as he or she progresses through later years of sports involvement. As your child’s first “coach,” you are in a remarkable position to maximize positive experiences he or she can have with teammates and coaches.


Michelle Deering, Ed.D., is a North Carolina-licensed clinical psychologist, nationally board-certified sport psychologist and professional speaker who is also founder and CEO of Curative Connections LLC, a premier consulting firm in Apex.

 

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