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Own the Energy

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I’ve spoken in length before about the key attributes that many high performing coaches have. Without question, I have found that most, if not all, have an infectious energy behind their coaching. 

Coaches with 'energy' are more engaging, more compelling and more ‘present.’

You can feel, hear and see a coaches energy right from the start. They have a ‘presence’ which commands attention and focus. They have a much greater chance of sustaining their athletes concentration, and in return are far better motivators and engineers of the environment which they are working in.

If you don’t have energy, you can’t share it.

This skill, this ‘quality’ is what can separate good and great coaches.

There are an abundance of coaches who have sound technical knowledge of the sport. It’s easily accessible, quick to learn and relatively simple to adopt. Changing coaching habits and behaviour however, requires self awareness, drive and action to be taken.

Just take a comedian’s ability to use and manipulate language and body language to make the unfunny absolutely hilarious. It’s not the words themselves, but their expert ability to deliver the message in a compelling, engaging and humorous manner that magnetises the audience. This is energy and engagement. 

Firstly, let’s look at some key factors that could be used to identify a coach with low energy and engagement with their athletes: (please note that this is not an exhaustive list, neither do the attributes listed below necessarily suggest poor coaching or bad practice)

  • Monotone in their voice, never varying in tone, pitch or volume, often quiet
  • Closed body language
  • Standing distant from their athletes when coaching
  • Sitting down whilst coaching
  • Standing in the same place each and every time you visit an apparatus (most coaches always stand/sit in the same spot every session, do you?)
  • Using the same feedback methods, language and drills, never changing the stimulus for the athlete
  • Does not set out clear goals for training
  • Appears generally lacking of motivation

In contrast are the following qualities that a compelling coach with a high level of energy and engagement could demonstrate:

  • Varied pitch, tonality and volume of their voice
  • Open, confident and approachable body language
  • Always standing, moving around and never in a predictable spot to watch training
  • A varied style of delivering feedback
  • Asks the athlete questions to test their focus and understanding of their own performance (athlete empowerment)
  • Unpredictable, (yet still consistent) approach to their coaching methodology and progressions 
  • Sets clear goals and objectives for the session so each athlete is task orientated and practicing with purpose
  • Is proactive in their instructions, clearly leading the session as opposed to being reactive with feedback based on athlete performance.
  • Manipulating music choice can be a key factor to how much energy the environment has also, and should not be overlooked, in conjunction with a great warm up to set the tone for the session. 

Owning the energy in the gym (or wherever) will ensure you command the attention and motivation of your athletes. If you can identify an area to improve looking at one of the above lists, perhaps try an alternative approach within a training session and evaluate the impact it has on your results!

Have fun!

If you enjoyed this you can find all my other ConnectedCoaches blogs here.

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Comments (4)

   
darrenwensor
It is so true that coaches not only have to pay attention to the information that they are delivering, but also to how they are delivering that message. This is particularly important when coaching young athletes. Energy is a key factor with this particular audience.
22/08/16
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EllyNetball
Excellent summary of what coaches can do to engage those participating in their sessions (and keep them coming back for more) ... I like to think I do most of those, most of the time ???
22/08/16
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Ralph
Hi Nick,
would you care to comment on or do a separate blog on the more subtle types of coaches that tick all your boxes on energy. So they talk and walk a good game but actually, in substance, at higher levels, they have often been promoted by the Peter Principle and so there isn’t any relevance anymore. What are the hallmarks of spotting those (sometimes called blaggers) coaches that look good but deep down are out of their depth? They get by, by having great sense of humour and are very disengaging and charming or have high levels of enthusiasm or are carried by past success and despite ticking those boxes trade off that ability, to mask the lack of substance underneath?
23/08/16
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Nollzer
You are the message. Energetic coaches have energetic sessions. I personally have noted that a small warm up session of weights before coaching greatly improves content delivery. This is in conjunction with the all stated emphasis on paralanguage and non verbal cues. The vocal tone, timbre, pitch, tempo , emphasis and volume play a huge role in creating energy. Coaching in some respects is a performance where the coach decides what tone to set. The non verbal facial cues, gestures, posture, proxemics and eye movements further augment the display of energy. With experience and practice coaches can develop the ability to create many different coaching environments by the use of non verbal communication. While the research of Albert Abhrabian and michael Argyle put large percentages on the impact of nvc, what we do know is that it plays a large role in communications. Consequently, being aware and practicing the nvc of the energetic coach might be helpful. How would you coach fellow coaches to be energetic?
23/08/16
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