I’m not great at pre game and post game speeches. I never have been. Some coaches have inspirational things to say at each. It’s just not my strength. What I love to do is look up stories to share, so I have something, but as far as what to say after that, I get unsure. I don’t like that. I never have. I feel like something is missing, that there is more I could be doing for our athletes before and after games. This summer I found that solution.
I was reading the Culture Code by Daniel Coyle and he was talking about what Navy Seals would do after their mission. It was called an after action review. Instead of the main leader sharing what they thought about the mission, he would ask questions and have the team give their responses. There were 4 questions they would ask before and after each mission, they were as follows:
Before the mission:
- ) What are our intended results?
- ) What challenges can we anticipate?
- ) What have we or others learned from similar situations?
- ) What will make us successful this time?
After the mission:
- ) What were our intended results?
- ) What were our actual results?
- ) What caused our results?
- ) What will we do differently?
What happens when questions are asked is that we start to go from a coach/leader fed environment to a team/player led environment. It allows them to look at what happened and come up with solutions themselves. It gives players a voice and helps them to see what is needed for improvement. Here are 3 reasons I believe it is important to ask questions.
- ) It lets us cool down
After the game, the fire burns hot, I’ve had moments where I want to get after my team because their effort was poor. However, I know that’s the worst time to do it. They already know they’ve played poorly, they’re already frustrated with their loss. What if, instead of blowing up on them, we took a deep breath and asked them questions instead. We may find out that they recognized their lack of effort and poor play. It will give them a sense of accountability and allows for leaders to step up and lead the discussions.
2.) It teaches athletes to speak up in front of their team
Athletes, especially at the high school level, are trying to be cool. They don’t want to make a mistake or say the wrong thing to their teammates. Asking questions teaches them to get out of their comfort zone in front of their team. If we can’t get our team to be vulnerable in front of each other, they won’t become the team they’re capable of becoming. Players/leaders need to learn how to speak in front of their teammates, so they’re able to call each other out when needed and encourage each other at other times.
3.) Makes it their team
Players play the game, coaches coach. It should be their team. They have the most control over the outcome. Players need to learn how to play without thinking and part of that comes from thinking through what went right and wrong in the game. If coaches continually give them the answers, they will never be able to play to their highest level, and will be thinking too much when the competition gets more intense. They need to be allowed to share answers with each other and find out what works and what doesn’t.
Asking questions to your team is incredibly important. I’d challenge coaches to think about doing this before and after games, and getting their players more involved. It allows us to stay calm, it gives them a voice, and it makes it their team. Lets give them a chance to lead each other.