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What coaching message leads to better performance?

Noise is defined as a phenomenon that blocks, distorts, changes or interferes with the meaning of a message.

Around the upper Midwest, this week marks a new season of fall sports.  Thousands of young athletes will put themselves in positions to be impacted by coaches. Coaches will utter thousands of messages in hopes of shaping, adjusting, and inspiring those they coach. What makes a coaching message productive? What coaching message leads to better performance? I ask these question because I believe most of what is spoken to young people resembles noise more than effective communication.

For messages to be helpful they need to be free of anything that could interfere with the meaning and desired focus of the message. Noise distorts, confuses, changes, and interferes with clear communication and literally inhibits the athlete from developing and moving forward. It is possible when communication is “noisy” the presence of a coach is more inhibiting than helpful. To make this sort of claim requires some explanation:

Elements of productive coaching messages:

  1. Concise: Spoken in less than 20 seconds
  2. Clear: Stated with clear language and engaging emotion
  3. Constructive: Provides the athlete with an adjustment leading to greater mastery of skill

When a coach seeks to guide an athlete to greater mastery it is important to make clear, concise, constructive comments that lead the athlete to successfully execute the mental and physical connections leading to success. The most effective coaches have been studied and it has been revealed that they clearly state concise messages providing the athlete with detailed input on small adjustments required; leading the athlete to make small consistent adjustments which are associated with maximized skill development.

When coaches use clichés that are wordy, demeaning, and confusing “NOISE” is at it’s highest and these messages serve to slow down, if not stop, learning.  These type of messages not only  inhibit performance but a decrease overall experience.

Let’s challenge ourselves to be clear, concise, and constructive in our communication. Champions are made from this type of communication.

We’d love to hear your comments and thoughts below.  If you are a coach and have a question please feel free to ask below and we’ll answer as many as we can.


Copyright © 2019 Shaun Goodsell