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How to Win

What Players Need Most From a Coach

“My goal in sailing isn’t to be brilliant or flashy in individual races, just to be consistent over the long run.” — Dennis Conner

At this time of year in 1941, Joe DiMaggio’s epic 56-game hitting streak was in the early stages. Beginning in mid-May and continuing until well into July, DiMaggio got at least one hit in every single game.

His record is, more than anything else, a mark of consistency. Lots of players can hit as well as DiMaggio for a week or so. Then they cool off. But these peaks and valleys are exactly what professional athletes try to avoid. They want consistency, and they speak of it all the time.

Anyone who coaches knows the value of consistency. There are few things more frustrating than wondering which version of a player will show up on a given day.

How many times have you asked a coach — or been asked — this question: “How is your team this year?”

And the answer is: “Depends which day.”

But here’s another question, a much more important one: If coaches know the value of consistency in a player, how important do you think consistent coaching is to a player?

Imagine what it must be like playing for a coach whose mood changes with the situation, whose approach and standards fluctuate, whose discipline depends on the player involved?

No wonder some teams or players never reach their potential. They are too busy trying to adjust to whatever version of the coach shows up that day.

My friend Gary Pritchard specializes in team-building. I once asked him to name the most important lesson he’s learned from studying the great coaches. He responded with one word: consistency.

When players know what to expect from a coach, they can concentrate on delivering it. They can get into a rhythm. They can begin to become a team.


One comment for “What Players Need Most From a Coach”

  1. This is an absolutely crucial point. Almost as important as consistency in a coach is consistency in practice structure. That doesn’t mean every practice needs to be identical. That would be boring. What I mean is that every segment of the practice needs a specific goal explicitly set out at the beginning, concrete feedback on performance to that goal in the middle and a restatement of the goal at the end of the segment. I have seen too many practice sessions that seem to have no beginning, middle and end, a sure way to waste players and coaches time.

    Posted by Peter Hirsch | May 25, 2009, 8:36 am

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