This year I have had the pleasure of coaching my son’s fifth-grade basketball team. Now, this is not one of those super-talented, traveling-the-country, all-star teams. This is simply a bunch of kids playing basketball for their school, which means they are all at different skill levels with different experiences. With that in mind, we have spent a lot of time with the players on the fundamentals. But in my role as coach, I’ve also had to rely on some coaching fundamentals.
6 Coaching Fundamentals
- Tell them why: Simply giving instructions without explaining “the why” may be effective in the short term. But to provide context and true understanding, explaining “the why” behind the reason for the instructions allows the players to better understand their role and why the thing they’re doing, or not doing, is important.
- Say it a different way: The reality is that each player is different. They have different experiences, and interpret what they hear and see differently and as a result, I have to tailor some messages differently depending on the player.
- Repeat yourself: Honestly, it would be much easier if the players simply listened the first time, but I have learned that is not the most likely outcome. Instead, I find myself repeating the same things multiple times. However, every once in a while, the message resonates, and the results improve dramatically.
- Tell them what they’re doing wrong: Basketball is tough and with kids at varying skill levels, I cannot simply make assumptions that everyone knows the right way to do things. Instead, I have to slow down, explain the specific situation and help them to make corrections.
- Encouragement: Obviously, no one thrives in an environment where they are only told what’s going wrong. So it is equally important to encourage and provide feedback where things are going well. It reinforces the right behavior and helps to motivate. Even saying “thank you” for practicing hard goes a long way.
- Remind them they’re a team: It must be human nature, because it seems the kids have this natural tendency to point out where their teammates have fallen short, without remembering their own missed rebound or bad pass. Reminding them that they are all working together is critical to team success.
This is not an exhaustive list, nor is it necessarily unique. As a matter of fact, if you spend more than two minutes on LinkedIn, you will likely find a content creator saying many of these same things. However, what is important to note, is that this guide to coaching fifth graders can be applied in our workplaces.
In our workplaces, the age differences likely span multiple generations, backgrounds, education, and work experiences. And yet, the same 6 coaching fundamentals apply. Everyone, even with their uniqueness has the same basic needs, that we as coaches and leaders need to meet for our employees to grow and be successful.