Communication with your player.

How you communicate with your student-athlete is critical to building their confidence. I recently heard an interview with with Michel Langlois, co-owner of Prospect Communications, which helps parents, coaches, and administrators develop more effective communication approaches. He’s also a former coach and has four grown kids who played many sports. Langlois has lots to say about why nearly 75% of sports kids drop out of sports by the time they are 13(as high as 85% in some communities) and how to ensure they stay in sports.

“A young student-athletes decision to stay in sports and enjoy its many benefits is a function of how much fun they’re having”, he says. “And young athletes have more fun if parents and coaches understand how best to communicate with them.”

Here at Peak One Performance, we are in complete agreement with Langlois. It’s the job of sports parents to ensure your kids are having fun. That means it’s your job to understand how to communicate with them—and how to choose coaches who know just how to pick their words.

Langlois offers some great tips for parents and coaches. First of all, he says, be sure you find out what motivates your kids to play. Ask them what they love about the sport. We’d like to add: Be sure to listen carefully. When you talk to kids, be sure to separate their motivation for playing sports from your motivation for having them play sports. You want to follow their lead.

As a coach, at the beginning of the season, I ask my players to fill out a goal sheet for the season.  This allows the player to discuss the reasons they are playing the sport.   The goal process helps this coach know how best to coach the players. You would be amazed at the things players will tell you if you just ask them. At peak One we believe parents should have their own “goal sheet” asking themselves what they want from their player as he/she plays sports. This would help parents and players find some middle ground and communicate about expectations better.

Another tip from Langlois: Be careful about how you give constructive criticism to young athletes. You don’t want to criticize them right after a mistake, for example.  I always apply the 30 minute rule. I do not discuss mistakes with my son for at least 30 minutes after the game is over. Sometimes it’s as much as 24 hours. Kids need time to digest and move on from mistakes and too often parents will come to the dugout right after an issue, and drill the player about the mistake. This is very counter-productive communication skills.

You should be sure to load them with lots of positive feedback. He quotes the Positive Coaching Alliance’s rule of providing kids with five positive, truthful remarks before offering one piece of constructive feedback. I use the coaching sandwich. I always put the constructive criticism in between two slices of love. For example; “ I really like how fast you hustled after that fly ball in the game today. It would have been easier to catch if you were focused on the pitch, and got a better jump, but man did you run hard.”

If you’d like to learn more about how to communicate with young athletes in ways that build their confidence and ensure they stay in sports, we’ve got just what you need at Peak One Performance. Call us at 970-368-4747 or email us at to set up an eye opening, informative consultation absolutely FREE.


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