Communication as a Coach

Communication as a Coach

“Overthinking. The art of creating problems that aren’t even there.”

Our words affect our athletes’ mindset, performance, and communicative comfort. Our words can either make or break a situation, create barriers or paths, trigger emotional states and create a lack in confidence, or change behavior patterns. As a coach, we should be their energizer, encourager, teacher, listener, guide, counselor, and instructor. Yes, we will get frustrated with them when they are not playing up to their potential, not meeting expectations, and getting into a rut, but we have to understand that is part of the game, and it is going to happen. Instead of scaring them and yelling at them consistently, we need to communicate; explain, teach, and create an understanding. If we are constantly yelling and using demeaning words, we are not taking advantage of that teachable moment; our athletes are going to freeze, play scared, and hinder their progress in the sport. I’m not saying as a coach we will never yell, and I am not saying  every single athlete will freeze and crumble emotionally with yelling, some feed off of that, but our choice in words are incredibly important. They send a message, and that message should be a moment that helps them, not discourages them.


Demeaning words create a variety of thoughts, emotions, and behavior including but not limited to:


Being scared of failing

Afraid of disappointing coach and/or parents

Occupied mind on the field and in the batter’s box

Constantly needing acceptance

Worried/focused on pleasing others

Not being in the present moment

Losing awareness of each situation in the game

Bad attitudes



Encouraging words have a way of lighting a confident flame within the hearts of our athletes. When an athlete is given words that are motivating, they start to not only gain confidence in themselves, but they also bring a confident energy to the team. Each individual athlete has an influence on their teammates, and it is up to us to make sure that influence is positive, uplifting, and motivating, because when one athlete has a bad attitude and behavior, it starts to bring each athlete down and the entire team down, causing problems on the field and in their mind. They will overthink, lose focus, and stop performing at their best. The lack of focus and the important resetting of the mind that clears the mistakes or struggle that occurred and moves them onward in the game is incredibly important, because if we allow them to dwell, pout, and have bad attitudes, their performance and their teams performance will sink under their true level of play.


Whether it is before, during, or after a game, the words we use set the tone and energy as the season moves forward. As coaches we will get mad and frustrated and speak to our athletes with strict, stern, and bold words as we explain our opinions of their game performance, and it becomes necessary in certain situations, but if we are constantly demeaning our athletes, picking them apart, and placing blame on individual athletes, we are not doing our job as a coach to TEACH . We are bringing them down, causing fear, disappointment, creating barriers, and losing confidence from the athletes whether it is in themselves, in the team, or in their coaches. We will point out what we saw, what we think, and what we expect, but it is important to have empathy, to instruct, guide, and HELP our athletes learn the game, learn who they are as individual athletes, who they want to be, who they are as a team, and what they want to be as a whole. Whether it was great game or a bad game, there is something to be learned and something to be taught, and if we don’t take advantage of those teaching opportunities, we are letting our athletes down and we are letting the team down. Communication is key in creating stepping stones for our athletes and team, and if we don’t use it correctly based on our athletes personalities, team demeanor, and expectations, we are losing respect, progress, and opportunities in helping these young athletes excel in reaching their highest potential as an individual and as a team.

“Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.”

Written by Nikoli Sharp

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