A Coach’s Secret Weapon

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Have you ever watched how much impact a good coach can have on little kids in a youth league game?  if not, go and watch a few, and then think about it. On nearly every play, a little kid will play noticeably better if the coach calls out his name and reminds him to run hard or to be ready or to stick his face into the action. In big games among college and pro stars, it’s not much different. 

If I had to choose the one most overlooked skill in sports, especially in sports at the pre-professional level, I would choose reminders. Common sense is convincing enough: if someone reminds you of something just before you need to do it, you are a lot more likely to remember to do it. 

For example, if you have players who are lucky enough to have parents who remind them to take their homework assignments to school each morning, they are very likely to arrive at school with their homework assignments.

If you have an assistant who reminds you each time you have a meeting, you are very likely to show up at each of your scheduled meetings.

As different as people are, it would be difficult to find anyone who would argue over the fact that timely reminders are very useful in a variety of circumstances. The assistant in my dentist’s office always calls the day before an appointment to remind me to be there at the appointed time. And it works! 

Game after game, season after season, generation after generation, athletes fail to do the things they can do on basketball and volleyball courts; on baseball and football fields; on ice, in the sand, or on clay. You name it, athletes forget it and, as every experienced coach will quickly tell you, these “unexplainable lapses” will happen at the most inopportune times.

Why do unexplainable lapses seem to happen so often to some teams but not to others? The answer is usually easily explained. Some teams have “reminderers” and most teams don’t.

How do you keep players from forgetting the stuff you thought for sure they would remember? You have to get in the habit of reminding them over and over again. Good players, leaders, and those truly wanting to win championships and maximize their teams’ potential have to get in the habit of reminding constantly. 

What wins games and leads teams is the ability to tell players the things that need to get done before they happen.

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