Coach Worthington share 6 key points to positive communication with athletes

Posted 6/7/2017 By Michelle Hill


The principles that sports teach have a way of permeating the lives of whoever takes the time and effort to embrace them.
Two key principles that sports can teach are positivity and healthy communication. Although every coach has his own style and method of coaching, most would agree that positivity and communication are two key ingredients for a successful team.

Robert Worthington, founder of Hoops Drills for Skills Camps, which provides a non-threatening environment for youth of all ages to develop competence both basketball and life skills, shares six key points to positive communication with athletes.

His keys for positivity and communication resonate any field of play. The coaches who dedicate their lives to teaching young athletes what it means to be a winner on and off the field will benefit from the wise words of a seasoned coach and mentor.

Build trust from day one. Worthington emphasizes that it’s important for coaches to send the message that they care. It’s also crucial that they build trust from the moment athletes walk onto the gym or the field and he stresses the need for coaches to reinforce character building and values, not just the fundamental skills on the field or court.

Engage players on and off the field. Coaches should start the season by asking the athletes to describe what they believe are the strongest and weakest parts of their game. During water breaks, stand or sit with your players and engage them in conversation about the workout.

Create an emotional link. Worthington’s decades of experience have taught him that teams who share a common emotional link seem to always work better together. If a team has weaknesses, which most do in some way, they can overcome those weaknesses through working hard together as a team—as well as avoiding the pitfalls of negative language. “I believe that a positive approach is far more effective than yelling profanities at players,” Worthington said.

Recognize the power non-verbal communication. Not all communication is verbal. Worthington understands how non-verbal communication, such as eye contact, posture and body language, communication can impact athletes. For Worthington, the non-verbal communication needs to match whatever message he’s conveying with words. “I have always felt a need to be consistent in how I convey a message to my team,” he said.

Communication is more than just a head coach-player exchange. All coaches at all levels can foster positive, healthy communication. It’s more than just how the head coach talks to players. Coach-coach communication, coach-parent communication, and coach-official communication are all important—and players observe and notice all of them. Worthington’s three keys for engaging with different groups: Be consistent, honest, and clear.

Remember why you coach. When he’s struggling, Worthington remembers what it was that first caused them to fall in love with the game and strives to help instill that same passion in his players. “It’s about the passion you feel being out on the court, the field, or the ice,” he said.

Check out USA Football's Positive Coaching: Communication course for more ways to improve.

Michelle Hill, your legacy builder at Winning Proof, helps athletes tell their stories, thus building strong brands and creating lasting legacies. As a book collaborator, project coordinator, and writing accountability coach, Michelle works exclusively with pro athletes, coaches, team owners and other sports professionals, to move their book idea from concept to publication.


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Hoop Drills For Skills Basketball Camps

10440 Little Patuxent Pkwy Suite 900,

Columbia, MD 21044

Phone. 443-564-0956