Joe Kenn | Vice President of Education and Performance
A key ability that is highly critical in your personal success as a strength and conditioning (S/C) coach is your ability to communicate. The art of communication is very similar to our description of S/C coaches being chameleons. It is imperative that you always be aware of how you are communicating with the team, the individual athlete, head coach, coaching staff, and administration. Your effectiveness when communicating with them is determined by your tone. Your tone and the manner at which you are delivering the necessary information to a specific group or individual will determine the way it is valued.
The perception of how one interprets your delivery will go a long way in the overall success or possible failure of the situation at hand. It is crucial that you “think before you speak” and be precise in the manner in which you want your delivery to be taken by the team or individual. Your expression, strength, and pitch of your voice will be vital in how your actions are taken.
By no way am I saying you shouldn’t be forceful when needed and I always expect the coach to portray confidence when speaking aloud. What I am suggesting is, those that are listening may not understand why you are addressing them in a certain manner. In this case, if the group responds in a different way than you expected, they may have taken you delivery in the opposite way you meant it to be portrayed.
It is also imperative to study your athletes and know how they respond to praise and criticism in a group setting. Particularly, in negative situations, athletes do not respond well to be chastised in front of the group. In this case, the behind the doors approach of meeting them in your office one on one is the better recommendation. This will not only help you relay the information in a more private setting, but allows the athlete to express his/her feelings also.
As I grew in the profession, the tone at which I was able to present at the professional level and the tone that I needed to portray in the private sector with 10 year olds was quite different. \What I learned over the last 10 years in these two work experiences during my self-criticism reviews of my college coaching career was this. There were times where the message I wanted to come across was correct but the tone it was said in didn’t do me any favors with the team. This is the one thing that I have really matured in as I move forward. I will always coach hard, but my verbal approach will be in a much more productive manner.