Two Key Aspects of Consistency for Coaches

To be credible you must be consistent. Any sign of inconsistency and you lose credibility instantly.
— Pat Summitt, Former Head Women's Basketball Coach The University of Tennessee

One of the ways a coach earns credibility with athletes is by being consistent. How would your athletes respond to the following questions regarding your consistency? 

Do you know what to expect from your coach on a daily basis?

Is your coach the same person whether you are winning or losing?

Does your coach handle discipline in a consistent manner?

Does your coach practice what she preaches?

I would like to address two of these areas and offer you some “food for thought” on being consistent with your athletes in these areas. 

Consistent Discipline

1.   One of the quickest ways to lose credibility with athletes is to state a consequence ahead of time and then not follow through on that consequence.  Some coaches like to lay out their consequences ahead of time for breaking rules.  Just remember, if you do that, you will likely back yourself into a corner where you have no choice but to carry out the stated discipline.  Life is series of extenuating circumstances and if you live in a black and white world, you aren’t acting as a leader and you will miss the opportunity to have an impact on the athletes you coach.  I encourage you to have as few rules as possible and then let them know there will be consequences if you break a rule based on the situation. 

2. Avoid holding grudges against athletes.  I often hear coaches say that a particular athlete is in his or her “doghouse.”  What happens is that the athlete is in the “doghouse” for several days or weeks and the coach looks for every way possible to catch the kid doing something wrong.  Athletes will respect you more if you promptly address a problem you might have with them and then move on to other things.

Consistent Communication

Another way of saying this is to practice what you preach.  Coaches who do not follow the same standards they set for their athletes are sending mixed messages.  Following are a few examples that have caused athletes to lose a measure of respect for their coaches.

Athletes are punished if they curse or use foul language, but the coach curses throughout practice and game situations.

Athletes are told to show emotional control, but the coach throws a temper tantrum during practice or at an official during a competition.

Athletes are promised a certain reward if they do something, but the coach never follows through on his promise.

Athletes are told they have to be confident and poised in competition, but the coach destroys their self-esteem by continually cutting them down with sarcasm in front of teammates during practice.                 

In conclusion, athletes want and respect coaches who are consistent.  They will be more likely to follow you anywhere you want to take them if you are consistent.