[This is the first in the series on effective persuasion for sport coaches, and is a significant update from the original article.]
You have a team meeting.
“Okay team,” you say. “Here’s what I want you to do to get in shape.”
Then you walk away from that meeting thinking everything’s good. You’ve told them exactly what they need to do.
But before you reach around and pat yourself-on-the-back realize this—YOU just blew it.
You think you did a good job cause you TOLD your team what to do. Yet you forgot the most important ingredient.
YOU didn’t use “persuasion.”
Human nature dictates we take the path of least-resistance. It’s in our genes. Unless persuaded, humans take what we believe to be easiest route.
It’s what we do and don’t fool yourself into thinking your athletes are immune…they are not. But success is often down the path of greatest-resistance.
As a coach you have to persuade.
Persuasion is the thing that separates ordinary coaching from amazing coaching. It’s the ingredient that gets your team to do what they need to do. Without persuasion athletes avoid the path of greatest-resistance. The hard work doesn’t get done and without hard work:
- Training becomes worthless
- Practices become wasteful
- Fundraising become non-productive
- Competitions become heartbreaking
- Recruiting becomes discouraging
You, Coach, are an impresario.
You gather people together, as *Seth Godin says, to create something. You are like the:
- conductor of an orchestra
- director of a choir
- producer of a movie
- sergeant of a platoon
To be successful you need persuasion. Because without it:
- The symphony sounds terrible
- The ballad is off note
- The movie is a flop
- The platoon fails their mission
You are the catalyst.
The following formula has a small chance of being true:
athlete + action = success
But add one little change, and chances of it becoming true grow incrementally:
athlete + *positive* action = success
You are the catalyst who inserts “positive” into the formula, and the tool of persuasion is how you make it happen.
Who needs persuading?
To be a successful coach, athletes aren’t the only ones you will need to persuade. To create a successful team the number of people who need to be persuaded is almost endless:
- athletic directors
- friends and family
- the equipment manager
- the facility person
- the trainers
- public relation folks (such as sports info director, local reporter, etc.)
You can bank on the fact that anyone who is involved with your team, in any manner, will need to be persuaded to take correct action at some time.
More than just “telling and yelling,” it’s selling
The days when things happened because a coach said it–or yelled it–are over. You have to apply the secret weapon of effective persuasion, and apply it correctly. You have to sell people.
How do become a better persuader? That’s what the next several articles will be about. In the meantime, a great resource to read is George Thompson’s Verbal Judo.
Reading the book has opened my eyes to both the power and the danger of persuasion. I think it should be a must read for all coaches. You might also find the audio version of this article helpful.
More soon. I hope I’ve persuaded you to be here.
[* Seth Godin’s definition: im·pre·sa·rio (n) \,im-pre-’sär-ē-’ō, -’ser-, -’zär-\ 1: one who gathers others together for creating art–the art of making a ruckus; the art of inventing the future; the art of important work]