Communication. We’ve all experienced situations when the communication was less than ideal. How often have you said or heard “there was a lack of communication” or “it was because of a misunderstanding” when things did not go as desired? In a crisis, we are quick to note the source of the problem. But do we notice our communication on a daily basis? What is our awareness of what we say, how we say it, and how it is received by the staff and players around us on a consistent basis? Are we prepared to take a look at this area of our coaching as a means of improving performance?
We process the world as it is happening through our senses. Our conscious and unconscious mind is continuously taking in all the details of our surroundings. Then we run those details through our own personal filters inside of our heads, personal filters that affect how we perceive things, and therefore, what meaning we put to things. Our past experiences influence our filtering and processing system, in combination with the way our mind works. There are 2 constantly running questions behind all of our behavior, with the first question “what does this mean?”, followed by, “therefore what should I do or how should I respond?”
Understanding how people are processing their experiences lays the foundation for creating better results, more efficiency, and a desirable atmosphere or culture. We know that people are constantly putting meaning, or creating “maps” in their heads that guide and dictate how they traverse through life’s events. With our communication, we can manage how our players traverse the world by starting at the end of the process first.
Do you ask yourself what it is that you really want before you present to your team, design a training session, or interact with your staff and players? If we do not have absolute clarity about our outcome(s), then the results that we get will be inconsistent, unpredictable, or subject to mere chance. By defining the desired outcomes in advance, in clear terms, you begin to author the way your organization puts meaning to things and creates its “maps”.
Focus your attention on your desired outcome, along with a clear idea of how you will know when your outcome has been achieved. If your outcome is to improve your goal keeper’s organization of the defense, how exactly will you measure his success? What factors must be present for you to know the defense is better organized? This segues into the second focus which must then be – how will your players and staff know when they have achieved your outcome? What will the goal keeper know, see, hear, or feel when he or she has improved organization at the back? This information must be communicated to the players to achieve effective and efficient performance.
How will you know that your training session is, or was, effective? What do you want to learn from your player meetings? Do your assistants have clear roles and responsibilities that are consistently discussed before training sessions, or in the office?
Measuring performance has to start with comparing current reality to desired outcomes. What is the current reality in your program, with your players and the staff? How well is your organization performing? As Head Coach, constantly be aware of your current reality while considering your future outcomes.
Knowing your outcome prior to taking action is essential to planning your training sessions, having player meetings, delegating tasks, giving feedback, and managing the many responsibilities that are required for a coach. A simple challenge within your organization is to notice when and where you have clearly defined outcomes, or not clearly defined outcomes, and compare the performance results.
Jennifer Griffin is a Sports Performance Analyst at Syracuse University for the women’s soccer program. She has also been part of the US Soccer Federation’s Per Diem Staff and was formerly a member of the Women’s Soccer Committee for the NSCAA. Jen’s soccer resume also includes having been a coach at the high school level for nearly 22 years.