Monday, September 11, 2006

A Little Respect - Baby

One of the most fascinating aspects of Ultimate and coaching is the coach itself. In highschool, we are slowly seeing coaches coming into existence, but at the University and Club level, the majority of coaches are more coach/captains and play. This is when it gets a little tricky.

Pictured Above: Good old after hour cups after a tournament day.

The coach is responsible for the offensive and defensive systems, giving feedback on team and individual play, and looking to make adjustments for the team including goals. Also, in many cases the coach needs to talk to the team and discipline/reward the team. Basically, the analogy of a boat, captain, and crew can be applied to the situation.

The problem is, the best person to be the captain of the ship might not have the most experience or skill, and therefore, doesn't get the full respect of the team. The second problem is the coach tends to be a player, and depending on the skill level of the player, respect is even harder to get. So the challenge is how to get respect needed to coach a team.

Before looking at how to get respect, we need to define what type of respect is needed by the coach. Essentially, the team needs to respect the coaches opinions and plan, regardless of how they think things should be run. Additionally, the team will listen to the coaches criticism, trust suggestions, and propagate messages to all members of the team. These are all fancy words for trusting the captain. In return, the coach will respect players opinions (opinions expressed at the appropriate times meaning not during a huddle).

How does a coach get respect? Well, from my experience there are certain qualities that all leaders, captain or coach, need to develop. The coach needs to have presence, meaning that they can speak up when needed, and ask for decorum. Additionally, to gain respect a coach needs to be both positive and calm and collected. Most important of all, I find a coach gains respect by following through on their prescribed actions, and paying attention to people on the team.

This last point is one of the most recurring elements of a stories I hear about bad coaches. The story goes something like this. Said coach tells the team to do something all the time (this is the rule); let's say that a coach says we always look to reset the disc at stall 5. Then said coach goes out as a player, and doesn't follow the rules they laid out. Instant loss of respect.

There is one saving grace from a mistake like this, and all other mistakes, and this is also a key aspect of gaining respect as a coach. And that is admitting to mistakes and admitting to not knowing. These qualities should be part of all teachers and coaches.



Honeyhands said...

Of course, the amount of mistakes you're allowed to make as a coach/captain is directly related to your sexiness.

Ugly coaches don't get nearly as much slack. I mean, then you're stuck looking at someone unpleasant while listening to things that you might not agree with. In tense situations, that's a deal breaker.

While all this seems facetious, what I'm getting at is that there's more to leading than just being good at what you are teaching and practicing what you preach (although these are necessities). If people can't relate to you as a person, you had better never screw up, because the trust pool will dry up very quickly.

There's a lot to be said about bringing something more to the table than just good tactical advice; to be effective as a leader one has to lead by example on a personal level as well. There's a lot of decent teams out there, and leadership tends not to matter during games until the games get really close. If the captain at this point is out of control, unfocused, and pessimistic, ranting about missed opportunities or generally just not mentally focused on winning the game anymore, this has a huge impact on the players around him or her. There's a huge amount of subliminal communication that goes on when you get scored on and head back to the sideline. In short, the coach/captain has to generate the mental state that the team thrives in, and project that state to the world.

But healthy looking skin is nice too.

Wartank said...

oh man, if my skin wasn't so daily-noxema'ed, my raving rants and physical destruction tantrums would never get overlooked.

thanks for making everything so clear. i am on a mission to try harder and be better.

(it is 5:19pm therefore i definitely didn't write this while at work)

Jeters said...

That "je ne sais quoi" aspect of a coach is a legitimate point. It might be beauty, grasp on humour, height, or whatever, but in general strong leaders do tend to have some sort of aura.

It may all come down to confidence and understanding and just projecting confidence as an image.