Coaching on the Field & in
by Stew Bolno, MBA, EdM
Spring training has ended (in
baseball, not corporations) and the season has begun. Throughout Spring
Training, baseball players most likely heard one of the most repeated
expressions stated by managers and coaches: "We need to work hard on the
fundamentals." The smartest and most accomplished players will understand
the value of this message, take it to heart, and will practice the
fundamental skills over and over again.
Coaches on the baseball field earn their keep by gaining trust and
influencing performance outcomes. They do so by communicating wisdom
while demonstrating effective interpersonal skills. Much of what the
best baseball coaches do can be adapted by those of us in the business
Strategies employed by winning coaches include:
Partnering with the Players
Your success as a coach
depends on improving the performance of the person you are helping.
Therefore, your attitude, behavior, and language should indicate that
your relationship is about helping not directing. A coach does not
hit, catch, or run for the player. The job is to help the player perform
all of these skills at a high level of competence. When you, as a coach,
are able to gain the trust of your players, they will be more willing to
go the extra base in order to improve their productivity.
Problem Solving to create
Baseball is a game of
statistics. It is relatively easy to identify the areas of weakness.
Sometimes, in business, we have the same advantage, as the weaknesses
are often observable or measurable. However, where statistics are not
available, ask your new partner where he or she experiences the most
frustration. Generally, the reason for frustration is a lack of success.
Asking the right questions, in the right way, will help to create
motivation on the part of the player. This motivation is essential for
the coaching process to work.
Preparing for Success
Once the challenge has been
identified make certain that you have a clear vision of the end result.
Stephen Covey said it best when he declared, begin with the end in
mind. When the end goal is stated, it creates a balanced alignment
between the coach and the person asking for the help. Preparation is
strategic and tactical. If you wish to avoid errors, make sure your
partner is on board with the what, how, when, and why of the effort
prior to the coaching events that will be taking place in the future.
When a player is successful
on the baseball diamond the teammates applaud, the fans cheer, and the
manager is likely to provide more opportunities. The same thing has to
be done with the partner you are coaching. New habits need to be
reinforced to ensure that they are instilled and ingrained. As
improvement occurs, make sure that you acknowledge and celebrate the
small hits as well as the home runs. Achievement creates confidence and
encourages the individual to step up to the plate in pursuit of greater
Coaches are essential players on
any winning team. They spot weaknesses and seek opportunities. Sometimes the
player being coached is a star and sometimes, that person is the least
talented individual on the team. However, when done well the average player
always improves. Are you ready and willing to help your players on your team
improve as a result of your coaching conversations?
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