April 2, 2014 at 9:58 AM
Even after being in the feedback business for almost a decade, I’m still amazed by some of the comments that players will make back their coaches.
Today I received an email from a coach who got this comment from one of his players.
"Thank you xxxx! I love having you as a coach! And I will definitely take these corrections and comments into account."
Makes you remember why you got into this game, right?
If I’m this coach I’d print this out and carry it with me at all times. So that whenever I find myself not in a peak state, I’d pull this out and remember what it’s all about. Great way to reframe.
March 31, 2014 at 8:12 PM
You can’t put the roof on a house before you lay the foundation. Just like you can’t drive 60mph until you go 40.
The same holds true for feedback: you can’t open your mouth and expect Phil Jackson to come out if you first haven’t established rapport with your players, and you can’t hope to build rapport unless you yourself are in an awesome state of mind.
Sure, this mechanical approach to feedback might feel cumbersome at first, but didn’t you feel that way when you first tried tying your shoes? It took time before you could do it without thinking. Just like anything, becoming great at feedback takes time and practice. But it all starts with state.
March 27, 2014 at 9:34 AM
That was my nickname when I was in high school. My friend Adrian from Wales gave me the nickname, and I’m grateful that he graduated a year ahead of me so I wouldn’t have to hear about it anymore and be reminded that I ask too many questions.
I think I’ve always been a curious person, and I love asking questions and figuring out why things work. It delights me to no end that my boys love to ask questions too!
Great thing about questions is that it directs focus. And focus determines what you feel. And ultimately how you feel determines what state you’re in. So if you find yourself in a crummy state, and you don’t want that to rub off on your players, ask yourself a better question. Change, “why do I have to deal with these rugrats,” to “how can I successfully help these kids take their game to the next level.” Small distinction, big difference.
March 26, 2014 at 9:44 PM
Have you ever noticed how you feel when you put on your Sunday best? You probably walk a little taller with a swagger, right? I know when I look good, I feel good.
I wonder if the same holds true for when you say something good, you feel good? My guess is that it does. Think about it. When you pay someone a compliment, sure you make the one receiving the compliment feel good, but you also feel good. That’s the funny thing about giving.
Like the old saying goes, it’s better to give than to receive.
Having said that, it makes me think that, if I will feel better just for saying something good to someone, I’m going to say it as much as possible.
And here’s another crazy thought: what if that other person was you. That’s right, you tell yourself compliments or get in the routine of patting yourself on the back. It’s an easy way to put yourself in an empowering state. Why wait for someone else to give you the compliment. Start with you. Because before you can compel others to take action, you first have to compel yourself.
March 20, 2014 at 10:57 AM
This message below was forwarded to me by a coach that is obviously going the extra mile to provide outstanding feedback. “Thank you Coach for everything. You have been the best coach, a great teacher, mentor and supporter. I would not have grown or excelled the way I did without you as a coach. You have not only taught me about the game of soccer but also taught me what it means to be a team player and the importance of being a good sport. I know I am a good person and will be successful in life and I want you to know that you've had a part in that. Thank you!”
And here’s why giving feedback is great. When you do it right, you get it back in spades.
March 18, 2014 at 9:08 PM
Recently just heard from a coach that I’ll be interviewing in an upcoming episode of ZoomTalks. And what he’s done is nothing short of remarkable.
To build rapport with his players, he has created unique handshakes or ways to give high fives. He doesn’t have a standard that he uses all the time. Each one is unique.
Sure, this takes time. And it’s something that I’m sure isn’t in a job description. It’s such a small thing that he can do for himself, but such a big thing he can do for his players.
“Big,” you ask? Certainly, because he’s caring his face off. And what better way to earn a player’s trust than to care; take an interest; to go first.
And how do you think that player will respond, now that she feels special? Bare minimum, she feels good about herself and the environment she’s in, and she’s now associated good vibes to soccer and her coach, which will keep kids coming back with smiles on their faces.
March 17, 2014 at 8:43 PM
Power of Words
“It’s not what you say but how you say it.” This “Dear Abbey” column was on our refrigerator door growing up as a kid (funny what sticks with you, right?) Perhaps this was a reminder for my parents on how to communicate with my sister and me. Or maybe it was a not-so-subtle reminder to me to not be a turkey!
Either way, the words we choose are second to the intent behind them. The frame through which we see the world determines the intent. And what determines the frame? I think it all comes back to the state that we live in. No, not South Carolina or Tennessee, but the state of mind we’re in when we open our mouths.
Someone just cut you off on your way to training. You’re still fuming as you get out the car. Obviously still in a pretty pissed off state. Do you think your intent and then your words will be affected by the frame of mind you’re in? You betcha.
First is to realize that you’re in this state of mind, and then realizing that it won’t serve you. That it will prevent you from displaying your highest and best self. Then go into a state of mind that will serve you. Sounds simple, but this distinction will not only change the quality of your life, but also the quality of the lives of the players you coach. Which, at the end of the day, isn’t so bad of a mission: to positively shape the lives of the world’s youth?
March 13, 2014 at 9:45 PM
For feedback to really work, and I mean where it impacts your players at their core, it can’t be a one-way street. Think about it: there’s the giver of the feedback, and the receiver of the feedback. If there is no connection, no rapport, then nothing is transferred, regardless of how brilliant or insightful the feedback.
So, if you want your players to engage with what you’ve said and apply it, you’ve got to be willing (and excited) about their feedback back to you. Thus creating the feedback loop. Where magic happens and connection is built.
In the old days where information was scarce, and by nature valuable, you could get away with being a jerk.
Turn the clock forward 100 years to today and we find ourselves in the connection economy. Where information is ubiquitous. Where you can find anything at scale. So by nature what you say is worth less, but not worthless.
But here’s the good news: you can take advantage of this by going farther, deeper and caring more. By doing whatever you can to create real, authentic connection.
But that would mean getting down into the trenches and pretending that you care about your customers.
March 11, 2014 at 9:51 PM
I was asked tonight by a group of enthusiastic coaches what’s the right ratio of positive to negative when giving feedback. I thought for a moment, and put myself back in my days as a youngster just falling in love with the game. I thought about my favorite coaches/teachers and how they provided feedback.
I then responded back, “Whatever ratio you decide to give, just remember that people will not remember all that you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”
But here’s the real kicker: if your feedback depended only on what you say, I’d say choose your words wisely. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to it than that.
March 10, 2014 at 9:50 PM
We’ve all heard stories about pro athletes and the pre-game rituals they go through to make sure they’re in the zone, flow, etc when it comes time to perform. We see it now more than ever during the Sochi games. You saw what Kate Hansen does prior to an event to get herself in the right state of mind.
So my question is this: if it works for them, and they’re the best in the world, what’s your pregame routine as a coach? What do you rehearse on your way to training? What are your thoughts as you arrive at practice?
If you don’t have one, I suggest you do. When you arrive at training or games in a better state, your players can tell. Not only will you be at your best, you’ll be able to build rapport at a much deeper level and your feedback (ie coaching) will be spot on.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself – deliberately practice your own routine and see if you can feel a difference