I joke around a lot with my players. I know a lot of coaches think such a thing is ‘amateurish’ but I don’t. Here’s why.
I coach amateurs. These kids are not playing soccer for a paycheck. They are not playing soccer to keep a scholarship. Their motivation has to come from within. They have to enjoy what they’re doing. By making them smile, I help them keep their passion for the game, primarily by not suffocating it.
But it has another advantage. If the kids are laughing at what I say, it means they’re listening to me. And if I can get them to listen to me crack a joke, then I can get them to listen to me give them counsel about soccer.
And it works. Over 12 years, I have a consistent record of being able to motivate kids that their other coaches have not been able to reach. That’s the proof of the pudding as far as I’m concerned. Maybe this tack isn’t for everyone but it works for me.
And one thing I feel is important in being effective coach is quite simple. A lot of coaches treat their players like sporting robots. I treat them like human beings. I’ll ask them how school is going. I’ll ask them how a family member is doing if I know them. If they have to miss practice because of, say, a band concert, I’ll ask what instrument they play. This is how I reach players. I’m not all business every microsecond so when I am all business, I have the credibility and the trust to get my message to be received.