Listening is key to improving the performance of every female athlete.
Coaches demonstrate, observe and correct. Many coaches do this quite well, but miss a very important opportunity to impact positively on a female athlete’s life. When a female athlete walks into a session, she is keen to connect with the coach, in order to perform at her best. As coaches, we find ourselves pushing forward with the session, demonstrating and talking (a lot), as we observe and correct. How much time do we spend actually listening? From talking to many coaches, it ranges from 0-2% normally.
When you listen, you learn
At the start of every session, and during the short breaks, I often take time to give each of my players a chance to talk to me. It’s often me asking only one or two questions, and leaving her to then choose what she wishes to tell me. It’s the one time I call “free choice”. It’s amazing how much you can learn about someone in such a short time. It helps you understand her, and feed in subtle but gradual adjustments to the learning session that will give her a satisfactory learning opportunity.
When you listen, you act
Listening helps you understand what the underlying issue is. Does your athlete really understand what is required, or perhaps she knows another way to do the same thing? Could this, perhaps be easily built around her to ensure that she has, not just the important basics, but also uniquely different style, that helps build her confidence? Allowing for creativity helps build self esteem, and accommodating for this while offering critical techniques is always a win-win.