Becoming a Memorable Swimming Coach.
Posted January 17, 2002
Article Reference: PI 2002-01
(critical thoughts for new coaches)
By John Leonard
(adapted from Dale Carnegie’s work)
Follow Those Thirteen pieces of
advice, and your coaching and your relationships with athletes will blossom,
regardless of the age of athlete you coach.
- Act like the Host – no matter
where you are, make people feel welcome and make them know you are glad to see
them there. You are the Host at practice and swim meets, even if its not your
home meet, for your own swimmers…you invited them there.
- Remember Names and Use Them. –
Dale Carnegie said “The sweetest sound in the world to a person is their own
name.” You know its true. Act on it.
- Make Eye Contact and Smile –
Basic interpersonal skills. Use them every day in practice…even if you have a
hard message to deliver that day.
- Focus your attention on the
other person. People swim fast when they feel important. They feel important
when they are listened to. Become a great listener. Make them feel like they
are the only person in your universe for the moments you speak to them. Thanks
to Jack Nelson for being the prototype of this for many coaches.
- Send the right signals – make
sure your body language, your facial expressions and your words all match, or
the mixed signals that result will cancel out any message you want to deliver
- Be Enthusiastic. Nothing happens
without it. Your athletes reflect you and your energy.
- Show your sense of humor. People
repeat experiences that are pleasant. Your humor can make any experience good
for your athletes.
- Be versatile. Things change.
People change. Your flexibility in dealing with things will make your athletes
equally facile at adapting to things that are “less than perfect” at a meet,
practice, or social situation.
- Speak concisely. It’s a sound
bit world today. Make yours count. Know what you want to say. Say it short,
sweet and memorable.
- Get on their wavelength. Learn
to adapt your speaking style, manner, pace and language to theirs. Make them
comfortable with communicating with you. You come to them. Don’t make your
athletes come to you.
- Ask others for their opinions –
You’ll be amazed how brilliant a conversationalist you will be remembered as if
you will do this.
- Don’t interrupt. Hear people
out. Sometimes they just have to get things off their chest. Let them. Its hard
to breath with stuff on your chest. You can’t be comfortable if you can’t
- Compliment them. Studies have
shown that young people today (ages 7-15) “hear” compliments only if they come
in a 1:1 ratio (or better) to “corrections.” So if you spend a lot of time
correcting and only 10% complimenting, your coaching will be rather unheard.
Conversely, if you compliment a lot and correct a little, you’re likely to be
heard by your athletes. Read that again please. Its scary….you have to
compliment as much or more than you criticize if you want today’s athletes to
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