One thing I learned from working with University of Vermont coach Lori Gear McBride actually took place at halftime of every game. Coach McBride had the team go in the locker room and one person was in charge of writing on the board positives and negatives from the first half, supplied by the whole team, while the coaches talked in the hallway.
I was skeptical of this at first because I wasn’t sure if the team would be too nice. In fact, the opposite occurred, the team was often harder on themselves even after a good first half. What this allowed us to do as coaches is only need to fill in gaps on things that needed correction and even be more positive with the team to compensate for the overly negative view the team had of their performance.
Years later when I was coaching the JV team at a high school, I decided to try it but wasn’t sure how the kids would respond. College players are usually more serious about the game and may have a number of thoughts of what’s going on out there. At first, the high school sophomores were hesitant about speaking their mind but eventually when they realized the only repercussion for speaking up was making the team better, they really got into it. Halftime became a real discussion on what went wrong and what we should do in the second half. The best part was I didn’t have to beg them to do something in the second half. They knew what they had to do and if it wasn’t done I could remind them that we talked about it. And, in this case, it was ‘we’ in the truest sense of the word, not the ‘we’ sometimes used when a coach wants to seem inclusive but is really just dictating what he/she wants to do.
How do you communicate with your team? How do you get their input and make sure they’re invested in games especially as the stakes get bigger this time of year?
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