The success of a coach is highly dependent on communication skills. Besides communicating with players on a regular basis, coaches also frequently interact with parents, administrators, officials, other coaches, and support staff. Coaches can build rapport to create a rewarding coaching experience for everyone involved. The following tips will help coaches to positively interact with the different members of a program and avoid the stress and frustrations of poor communication.
Coaching base runners
Communication between coaches and players is always important, but especially so for base runners.
- Base coaches can help runners see and hear things they might otherwise miss and help the athlete read the situation to anticipate consequent plays.
- Communication can be verbal or physical. If a player is within ear shot, there may be verbal communication about how many outs there are or if the player should hold their ground or take a step towards the next base. Hand signals and eye contact is appropriate when verbal communication is not possible.
- The base coach’s energy, whether positive, negative, subdued, or highly energetic can help show the player what is important in a specific area or play of a game.
Communication with umpires
Being an umpire is no easy task. Making their job more difficult, or letting parents, players, or support crew do the same can lead to a bad day at the ball park.
- Know the rules of the game and the rules for the specific program you are participating in. The umpire is more likely to take you seriously if you speak their language.
- Respect is a two way street. Ask for a time out if you need to speak privately with one of your players on field, don’t just run onto the field yelling and screaming (ever!). If you disagree with an umpire’s call, there is a way to vocalize that respectfully.
- Coach your players, the parents, and support staff to respect the umpire as well. Inform them before the season starts that it is the coach’s job — not theirs, to communicate with the umpire.
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Communication with parents
No matter how old the players are, communication with parents is an important factor in an athlete’s overall performance. By forming an alliance, parents and coaches can help student athletes meet their full potential, both on and off the ball field.
- Get everyone on the same page before the season even starts by hosting a pre-season meeting with all the parents, players and support staff to share the goals and values of the program.
- Share the practice and game schedule as early as possible and stick to the schedule. If travel to games is required, arrange and share the logistics or delegate an assistant coach or parent to help communicate the details.
- Let parents know how and when they can communicate with you throughout the season. Encourage parents to communicate early if their child will miss a practice or game due to a family vacation or other schedule conflicts, and make sure to set boundaries to avoid problems with over-invested parents.
Coaching is a hard job. But thorough and proactive communication creates a healthy team environment and inspires a great experience for everyone involved in the program.