Words are very important. The choices we make when we try to communicate with the players we coach will go a long way in determining whether our message is a clear one that our players can process or if we are confusing them even more. As I get older, it becomes very clear that many of the words I grew up with do not have any meaning to the kids I am coaching.
Examples, you say?
Long distance. None of today’s kids know what a long distance call is. They can call Mars with their phones and it doesn’t cost them a dime.
Clockwise. They spend all their time with digital clocks and smartphones that answer all their questions for them. I doubt that many of them have to tell time at all, let alone know which way the hands of the clock move.
Lollygag. Unless you are a fan of “Bull Durham,” you might know what it means either. But I guarantee that young softball players think it’s a foreign language.
Befuddled. When I asked a hitter if she was befuddled, she looked at me like I had an extra eyeball in my forehead. So when I said, “confused,” she said, “of course I’m confused,” because she had no idea what the heck befuddled was.
The list is much longer but the point is pretty simple: If you are coaching you need to remain aware of the fact that the target audience has a completely different set of experiences than you do.
If you remember to “speak their language,” you’ll all be a lot less bamboozled!