Key Takeaways:

  • Must vs Want
  • Making Concessions
  • Types of Negotiators

Last week was our introduction to Negotiating 101 by Peter Sander; an attempt to share how Bartering and Basketball can co-exist from a coaching perspective. This week we continue the conversation by delving into how to prepare for negotiations and the personalities or styles involved in the discussion. This again is in context to daily coaching, where sudden or significant negotiations can take place.

For most coaches, we are in the off-season at the moment. Consider some of the possible examples of negotiations being held right now:

  • Recruiting calendars is likely a high priority
  • Putting together off-season packets
  • Focusing on student-athletes’ academic finish line

On any given day the coaching staff comes to an agreement where to spend their time. Student-athletes make similar decisions, but may have less choice in the matter. Going to class is expected, as is attending lifts with the team. But are the voluntary workouts part of an unspoken agreement?

The coaches come to the table – or locker room – for a team meeting to negotiate the terms of the off-season. At the scholastic level student-athletes plans are set in place, versus professionals, that may choose to participate in summer leagues or rest. It is a matter of what must happen in order for team success to occur versus what each party wants to accomplish.

“It may be an important one – a “must” – or it may be a “want.” That priority, along with your priority for the other goals, helps you know the value of that goal towards your outcome.”


Must vs Want

“It’s just the bare necessities.”

There may not be much of a deviation between ‘Must’ and ‘Want’ in your program; we can circle back to this when discussing concessions made during negotiations. As they say, our programs are a reflection of what we tolerate.

When we think of leading a program, or even at the micro level of putting together an off-season program together, what are the terms? In other words, the coach negotiates with the team about the time, commitment level, and focal points that could generate player development. A traditional plan of attack targets strength, agility/athleticism, sport specific IQ, and/or skill development. Of course all parties involved want to see everyone get better, faster, and stronger during the time-off, yet there is only so much time in a day. Decisions are made based on producing the best possible results out of our time available. Thus, the conversation has to focus on what must we do to improve, while additionally keep in mind what we want to do to create results.

Any room for concessions?

So, is there anything tolerated in your program that isn’t an exact representation of your vision? For example, if Player A had plans to attend a separate event on the same day of the team’s lift, is it tolerated to miss the lift and make it up at a later time. Or is there a standard that is without compromise? Standards create transparency. They also can lead to locker-room rifts if a group with influence, or a majority disagree on the value or intent. Can coaches embrace concessions without compromising core values?

“Concessions are small gives and takes to help both parties arrive at the best win-win solution; they are refinements to the deal.”


Sometimes giving an inch exacerbates into a mile. Certain players will take advantage of the freedoms. This is where strength in culture can drive the individuals to stay on task. This is part of the negotiations for coaches – to trust the team to do their job, or (micro)-manage all activities to ensure all terms are being met at an optimal investment level. There are tactics that we will continue to explore with next week’s reading, observing body language and deception are a couple that come to mind. Until then, here are the author’s list for negotiating personalities that can influence how others communicate:

  • Aggressive / Dominating
  • Passive / Submissive
  • Logical / Analytical
  • Friendly / Collaborative
  • Evasive / Uncooperative
  • Expressive / Communicative

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