[This is part three in the series on effective persuasion for sport coaches and is updated from the 2015 version.]
Melissa was a great swimmer. Extraordinary someone would say.
In the straightaways she was tough to beat. But she had a fault—her flip turns. They weren’t as good as they could be.
Coach knew that and had developed a plan to improve Melissa’s turns.
He told her the plan, explaining if she could improve her turn she might make the cut for the national championships.
Melissa listened to her coach, she wanted to win, and wanted to make the cut.
But she wasn’t convinced she needed to make the change. She tried for one practice, but then gave up.
She would just swim harder in the straights, which she knew she could do.
At her conference championships, she swam her best race ever, but missed the cut time by .02 seconds. A time she could have bested if her flip turns had just been a little bit more effective.
An outsider looking in, at Melissa and her performance, could be excused for laying all the blame on Melissa. “Too stubborn,” or “Un-coachable” they might say.
Yet her Coach missed out on a valuable part of convincing Melissa to make the change she needed to make. Know what it was?
Persuasion To The Rescue
For the past several articles, the focus has been on persuasion, the art of convincing someone to take positive action. So far, we’ve discussed:
Melissa’s coach did a great job on those two steps, but let the ball drop on the next step, Fire Up Fascination. If he had accomplished that, Melissa might be swimming at the national championships right now.
Welcome To The Fascination Dome
This step, Fire Up Fascination, is the fulcrum of effective persuasion. All too often coaches will ace the first two steps; then assume the athlete’s motivation will be so peeked that the positive action will just happen.
It’s harder today than ever to persuade people.
Distractions are plentiful and shortcuts are everywhere.
To persuade today you need to go further than grabbing their attention and sparking their interest. You have to fire up the fascination.
This element alone can make or break whether you are successful persuading someone (or a group) to take positive action, and be an effective coach.
People want to know, demand-to-know, the value to them if they take the action you want them to take. That is the way of the coaching world today.
Yet, many coaches go wrong here. Because the value they espouse is of value to the coach, and not the value to the athlete.
For instance, you might value winning your conference. Ache for it. But, your athlete, a freshmen, new to your team and to the sport has no attachment to the conference championship at all.
To him, its just another contest. To you, it is the world. Possibly your job.
See the detachment between the two? It’s a wide gap. The key to value is to determine what is of value to the OTHER person.
You find that, and here’s where the fulcrum comes in …
The fascinating element of your persuasion is where your coaching-skills shine. It’s where you make the value to the person so appealing, so enticing, so tantalizing they WILL take the positive action you want them to.
Listen to how one of the leading experts on fascination, Sally Hogshead, describes it:
Fascination is a state of intense focus. When you fascinate your listener, they become completely engrossed so that they’re not distracted. In this neurological state, they are more likely to listen to you, remember you, and take action.
Doesn’t that describe what you’d like your athletes to do?
Can you give me a, “Heck Yeah!”
Soon you’re going to walk into a room full of athletes. They’ve been away from college for weeks, and in the off-season. You have to persuade them to commit to your training plan, and convince them that:
- There will be value in the hard work
- The time commitment will be worth it
- The changes we will be making are wise and in their best interest
It’s a strong-willed group of athletes. What are you going to do?
Point blank, you’re going to show them the value in the plan, and then fascinate them.
How Do YOU Do Athlete Fascination
Fascinating is not a difficult process, and it’s not perfect, but here’s how to fascinate:
Have empathy: dig deep into how the other person feels and thinks
Describe value: describe it and show them how to get there
Build a fire: spark their interest and build that spark into a fire … and keep it going over time
So for your team, you’re going to:
- Determine what the benefits/rewards are of your plan and tell the benefits to the athletes
- Make sure objections/concerns are satisfied (for example seniors might object to not traveling for a College Break and practicing at home, freshmen might object to a different training plan then they had in high school)
- Stoke the fire
And then there’s one last step you’ll take, which I’ll tell you about next week. (Sneak preview: Step 4: Call To Positive Action)
In your back pocket you now have three critical steps to convince someone to take positive action. Big deal, right? It is, if you do something with them!
Hey, you want to improve your athlete(s). Right? Do you think that’s going to happen by yelling and screaming?
That model of persuasion doesn’t work, pure and simple. Your success will come from being effective at persuasion.
That’s how you become a coach they remember, with statues and bobbleheads of you, and a paycheck to drool over. You want that right?
(See, I used Steps 1-3 right there, on you. Did they work?)
- Article: The How To Fascinate Library – Sally Hogshead
- Video: How To Fascinate – Sally Hogshead
- Article: The Two Essential Elements of Irresistible Content – Brian Clark
- Article: Lotus Pose On Two: The Seahawks believe their kinder, gentler philosophy is the future of football – by Alyssa Roenigk
- Article: Sheer Fascination Keeps Dick Bate Coaching With Great Enthusiasm – NSCCA
- Audio: Power Of Summarizing – Carnegie Coach
- Audio: Keep Them Fascinated – New Rainmaker
- Video: Fascinate – Marie Forleo
- Article: 5 Fascination Experiments From The World of Psychology and Persuasion
Next week will wrap up this series on persuasion. Until then, please share this with a friend of colleague who needs help sparking someone’s interest.