I remember exactly how I reacted to being yelled at. I cried — then threw up.
That was 50 years ago. Seems like yesterday.
I was in 2nd grade and had committed the felonious act of waving goodbye to a duck during our field trip.
(Jeez, why do some coaches — and teachers — yell and scream?)
On their/our behalf, yelling is an attempt to quickly change a situation by applying a Big-Stick. (I’m defining Big-Stick as a display of leadership or control.)
When a coach screams such things as, “TRY HARDER“, “STOP DOING THAT!“, and “WHAT THE HECK WE’RE YOU THINKING,” at explosion-volume, he is using the Big-Stick of Yelling to change things — right NOW!
But is using the Big-Stick of Yelling necessary to bring about positive change? The only way to stop bad behavior, improve effort, increase engagement is to yell — right?
I don’t buy that. And neither should you. There are better ways …
Granted, yelling might improve a situation … momentarily, but the improvement can be fleeting and the after-impact negative, and traumatic (ahem).
If we coaches want to verbally improve a situation, in a positive manner, there are better methods of applying a Big-Stick than yelling. Phil Jackson, of NBA coaching fame, and a fellow to listen to, wrote in the section of his recent book (that section entitled Sometimes you have to pull out the Big Stick):
“… I’ve pulled out [some other] tricks to wake players up and raise their level of consciousness.”
He was referring to positive and proactive ways to change situations without yelling, screaming, and being insulting.
Here’s the catch, knowing when to use Big-Sticks other than yelling is easy, as i’ve sketched out below:
The difficult part is in figuring out what those other Big-Sticks actually are. What I do, what Phil Jackson did/does, what other coaches do might give you ideas, but in the end you’ll have to craft your own Big-Stick(s).
As you create them here are three things to keep in mind:
First, Ben Franklin, as he started each day would ask himself, “What good am I going to do today?” (Hm … a Big-Stick he used on himself.) Something to keep in mind when applying a Big-Stick.
Second, last year I was selected as the national coach of the year for D3 women’s rowing. I had to use several Big-Sticks over the course of the year, especially on myself, like Mr. Franklin. But never once did I use the yelling-flavor. Plenty of other Big Sticks, but no yelling.
Third, whenever a force is applied, like a Big-Stick, there will be a reaction by the person on the receiving end. Simple physics. Please try, really really hard, to make that reaction a positive one. Especially for the sake of everyone who likes ducks ; )
Three things for you to think about.
And speaking of thinking, that brings me to …
Try this, list a different flavor of a Big-Stick that you can/would/should use for each of these situation:
You need an Attention Big-Stick:
You need a Discipline Big-Stick:
You need a Motivation Big-Stick:
And while you’re at it, how about sharing those, or other Big-Stick ideas, with us. Comments are on. That’s how we all get better.