Let’s define “Coach-Speak”:

Often the language used by coaches when addressing simpler issues with deeper contextual meaning.

The majority of John Wooden’s speeches are rich with coach speak.

  • “Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result of the self-satisfaction in knowing that you have made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
  • “They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  • “There are little details in everything you do, and if you get away from one of the little details, you’re not teaching the thing as a whole. For it is the little things, which, together, make the whole. This, I think, is extremely important.”
In my first year of graduate school, our textbook for a Coaching course was You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learned. The pages were littered with euphemisms, proverbs, and prophecies. I loved it. The course itself centered around a holistic methodology towards understanding the impact of being a teacher beyond fundamental skill-development or strategy. All of which I completely agree with and bought into as I began my second year coaching. It ignited a deeper purpose to coaching than wins/losses.
The challenge that I am having – that I ask of other coaches – does the meaning behind the message get lost in the philosophical coach-speak versus bluntly telling someone, “You don’t know the plays, therefore, I can’t play you.” Or do you try to dissect the main issue from a life-skill standpoint, correlating on-the-court challenges to future consequences: commitment, punctuality, retention, so on and so forth.
Admittedly, I feel I sometimes provide too-much philosophy rather than get right to the point.
  • The simple answer is you are not good enough right now.
  • The problem is you didn’t do what you were supposed to when you were supposed to do it.
… the point is coaching is a balancing act. And at times I don’t know which end of the scale to operate. The balance between communicating a sense of urgency for immediate adjustments to be made, while additionally trying to develop a better mind and person habitually feels conflicting.
  • Am I frustrated because you keep making the same mistakes? Yes.
  • Can I use this as a learning experience for things larger than the game? Yes
  • After addressing both of these things simultaneously, do I trust they can compartmentalize the two? No.
That’s the issue. And I think the best coaches have the best responses in the most timely manner.
To avoid a philosophical rabbit-hole, “It depends on the situation,” is an answer that can blanket this whole conversation. But as with coach-speak sometimes, it depends is a genuine answer that really doesn’t provide much clarity.
From my perspective, it is important to be cognizant of the tone of the message, as much as the content within it. We want to teach our kids to identify ways to prevent history from repeating itself, but our objective is that it instills a habit that can be potentially transferable in life. Coach-speak can sometimes get in the way of accomplishing either objective because the tone can be harsh and the message can be convoluted. Something to consider.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s