Three Keys to Communicating with Athletes Before Competition

1. Everyone prepares differently for competition. It is a mistake to assume that all athletes prepare the same way or that they prepare the way you did when you were an athlete.  It is important to learn what your athletes like to do to prepare themselves and then create an environment where they can  prepare in that manner. The team can be broken into subunits and different coaches can be responsible for each subunit if you have large numbers on your team.

2. Use reminders to focus on the process of playing well. Avoid emphasizing the importance of winning by saying things like, “We gotta have this one” or “This one is for all of the marbles.” The process of playing well is much more under your athletes’ control and they will be much less stressed or anxious if they have specific aspects of the game to focus on rather than the outcome.

3. Do not provide them with an out. For example avoid saying things like "I know you are tired” or "We are banged up. Statements like these only provide your athletes with built-in excuses if things aren’t going well or they are tired.

Following these three keys will help you communicate more effectively before competition and give your athletes a better chance to succeed.