Coaches, whether you realize it or not you are always communicating. Body language is one of the most powerful ways humans communicate with each other. One of the hardest things for me as a coach was maintaining good body language. I often got frustrated and it showed in everything I did.
Why is this important? Female athletes are very aware of body language. They pay attention to what you’re saying, even when your aren’t speaking. What you are communicating through body language is often much more impactful than the words coming out of your mouth.
“They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” is one of my favorite quotes and I believe applies directly to how we communicate through body language.
Arms crossed, back turned, huffing and puffing, arms out in exasperation, and many other things we often do as coaches sends a very negative message to our players. If my body language says I’m frustrated or angry then I have already lost my ability to communicate effectively with my player.
Don’t coaches have the right to be frustrated? Well, yes and no. How you manage that frustration and how you project it will determine a great deal of the success that your team is likely to have.
You can be frustrated but if you display it during a game you are unlikely to get a positive change in the way your team is playing. I believe a much better strategy is to project confidence and support while you create a mental checklist of the things that are frustrating you. Then use your postgame debriefing to share the things you want your team to improve upon.
I coached for over 40 years and struggled with this my entire career. This is certainly a situation where I’m asking you do as I say not as I did! One of my greatest regrets is that I don’t think I ever conquered this challenge.
I’m still working on it.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.