“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.”
– Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski
Communication is key to how you coach, how you play as a team, and how you are in your daily life. Seems obvious, right? And yet, we know that improving the student-athlete experience is impossible without communication. Because, without communication, nothing else works.
It’s like trying to fly a kite with no wind; MacGyver without a paper clip; U2 without Bono. You get the idea.
Communication is where true leadership shines, and it is one of the most crucial elements to what we do at Ecsell Sports. It’s how we measure a coach’s capacity to effectively share information, strategies and expectations with their student-athletes. It also tells us how well a coach listens to their student-athletes, and how well they use technology as a communication tool.
Listening is Communication
Ever watch a coach on the bench during a game? How do they communicate with their players? Are they hunched over in their chair? Do they run up and down the sidelines? Toss their hands up in the air? Stomp their feet? Motion with their arms; point their fingers? Clap their hands? Smile? Frown?
Those forms of communication between a coach and student-athletes can be effective. But so can another form of communication that often goes unnoticed: listening.
If you could hear an elite coach lead a team practice, you might see them ask a lot of questions. “Why didn’t the play work? Tell me what went wrong.” And then they listen. The players may ask questions, too, or make a suggestion. To which a good coach might say, “Tell me more; explain that. I’m listening.”
It’s imperative for student-athletes to also be good listeners. And the best coaches know they must be, too. Listening is a communication team sport.
Communication breaks barriers
If communication is the key to improving the student-athlete experience, then sport is the universal language, according to former NBA standout Yao Ming, who says, “Sport is the best means of communication between people from different religions and countries.”
Others might contend that technology is the best means of communication. Which is why sports and technology make such a great pair.
In today’s world, technology-driven communication might come in the form of written communication (a text message or email) or visual communication (a team Zoom meeting). Successful coaches find ways to connect with their players wherever, whenever and however they can, and they know that embracing technology is part of the communication dialogue, especially outside of practice and games.
“Hey, I liked how you hustled today during the game.”
“Just a quick note to everyone: Get some rest tonight; big game tomorrow.”
“You’re really becoming a leader out there – keep it up.”
“It’s great to see everyone, even if it’s on a screen. It’s just good to connect.”
The best coaches know how important consistent communication can be for their student-athletes, which is why we place so much weight on it.