Learning how to listen

July 12, 2012
Learning how to listen

Statistics show that untrained listeners hear less than 20 percent of a conversation. The majority of us fall within this category. Poor listening skills cause a breakdown in the communication process.

 

If an athlete continually fails in getting you to listen, he/she will simply stop talking with you. Coaches who are poor listeners often have more discipline problems; athletes stop listening to their coach because he/she is not listening to them. Athletes may make a drastic attempt to get you to listen by misbehaving or acting out. Your response to athletes' views and thoughts is important as you begin teaching and training them in their sport.

 

Improving Your Listening Skills

  1. Recognize the need to listen.
  2. Concentrate on listening by giving your undivided attention to what is being said.
  3. Search for the meaning behind what is being communicated to you.
  4. Avoid interrupting athletes as they are talking with you.
  5. Respond constructively to athletes' emotions.
  6. Respect the rights of athletes to share their views with you. Listen to their fears, joys, problems and accomplishments.


Coach as the Model

Your every action as a coach on and off the playing field is a form of nonverbal communication. One of the most important things you communicate by your actions is respect or the lack of it. How you walk, approach others, your gestures and what you say and how you say it convey your attitudes about sportsmanship, other coaches and athletes. Athletes can be highly impressionable, and they hold their coach in high esteem. Your actions can teach athletes much more than sport skills and rules of your sport.

 

Some Final Thoughts on Communicating

  • Emphasize praise and rewards to strengthen desired behaviors.
  • Positive communication helps athlete value themselves as individuals, athletes.
  • Be aware of the emotion expressed in your messages to athletes.
  • Set realistic goals about athletes' athletic performance abilities as well as their emotional and social behavior.
  • Be consistent.
  • Keep your word.
  • Be as good as your word.

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