Have you ever said something to someone and realized that they thought you meant something totally different than you did? Have you ever hurt someone’s feelings because of the words you used even though you meant nothing by it?
This is a huge reality when it comes to coaching. I have caught myself in the past when talking to my athletes saying something that I thought was motivating to them to push harder but realized later that they really just felt like I was upset with them. For example: Coach: “If you just put a little more effort into your training for the next month you should be caught up to your developmental plan”. The athlete may look at this as an incentive to work harder for the next month so they can get caught up or they may look at it as you trying to say they haven’t been working hard before now. It is solely based on their perception of your words.
I have learned that in order to minimize this from happening that it is important to always explain the context of your comments and feedback. At the end of the comment above I could say: “I am telling you this because I care about you and your progress in this sport. You are a talented athlete and I know you can do it so I am pushing you to put in a little more effort”. Suddenly my comment is empowering to them simply because I explained why I am asking for more effort.
Always remember that any feedback that you may feel is positive and helpful could easily be perceived in a way that is belittling or negative. Some athletes take constructive criticism well and others take it as an insult. It is our job as their coach to build a relationship with them in order to determine how they will understand our feedback.
Perception is everything in life and we have to be careful how our athletes perceive what we say if we want them to be able to use positivity to reach their highest potential.
By: Brittany Berezowski
“You are your own most powerful motivator and critic. Which will you be?”