Thursday, December 27, 2007

High vs. Low Expectations

How do you deal with expectations on your team?

Recently I read an article by Wilson and Stephens (Journal of Sport Behavior, Sept. 2007) that dealt with the expectancy of athletes. Basically they argued that coaches who placed low expectations on their athletes gave them a great deal less instruction than athletes with higher expectations. They stated that the coach will often consciously or subconsciously behave in a manner congruent with these expectations. This really made me think about roles on a team and how I deal with my own team. While I have seen where I have definitely been in this model, I am consciously trying to break this habit. I am trying to put as much effort as possible into coaching everyone in the same manner. While I think certain roles are beneficial to a team I don’t want the players to get comfortable in their “role”. I want them to strive to achieve another “role” and I try to reward them if they work hard enough to move up. I feel that when a player gets comfy as the “12th man”, they tend to relax and enjoy the ride rather than bust their butt every day in practice. The same goes for the star. If they know they are going to play a lot of minutes and get a lot of shots, they feel untouchable and will often coast. I have seen it many times. I want all of my players to be uncomfortable in their role because of 2 things : 1, they have higher personal expectations and 2, someone is pushing them and wanting their spot.

I had a meeting recently with a player who was upset about the change in her playing time. She compared herself to the other player in her position so I immediately stopped the discussion. I told her that the discussion had to be about her and her expectations first. It was not a comparison contest because that often leads to jealousy. I simply discussed the areas where her performance has suffered and where she has improved. I then gave her some specific objectives and things to work on. We discussed her overall improvement and I assured her that with improved efficiency, she would see an increase in her minutes.

Our goal as a team is to have one set of expectations for our group when we step onto the court. When the players work efficiently enough and can meet those expectations, then they can get more playing time. As a coach, it is my job to help them realize their personal expectations while also realizing the expectations they have as a member of our team.

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