Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Soccer Coaching - A Missing Link to Motivation

One of the main dilemmas we soccer coaches can face is a perceived lack of motivation from our players. But what if our leadership approach is unintentionally de-motivating?

A big part of motivation comes down to moving from compliance to commitment. In our attempt to teach and be the authority we can tend to dictate. When we set all the goals and make all the rules the best we can hope for is complete compliance.

A definition for compliance is: conformity, obedience, surrendering power to another - especially in a weak and subservient way.

Not very motivating. When we consult our players on a regular basis (and yes, sometimes their parents) there is a significant difference. People will be committed to make something work if they are involved in the decision-making process.

A definition of commitment is: engagement, involvement, a promise, sincere purpose. Much more buy-in! If motivation is that easy, why don't more leaders consult the group in their decisions?

1. It takes more time and effort. It does take time to gather input from everyone, but I think of it as an investment. My experience is that you will either spend the time gaining input on the front end, or you will spend time and energy on compliance issues and motivation on the back end.

2. The Control/Participation Dilemma - the feeling that you will not be truly leading the group if they make all the decisions. Also, the difficulty in finding the right balance between making the decisions and consulting others.

Here is a participation progression borrowed and adapted from the book, Managing People, by Jane Weightman. Tells - the leader makes all the decisions and announces them. The group is expected to comply. Sells - the leader makes all the decisions, but sells and convinces the merits of them to the group. Consults - the leader presents the issue, asks for input from the group and then makes an educated decision. Joins - the leader defines the limits and then lets the group make the decision. What have I found to be effective? I consult my players (and their parents when appropriate) on just about everything with my teams and join them on their decisions at times. If there is an area where they are completely inexperienced, I make a decision and sell it. I have almost completely abandoned telling them what the decision is and making them comply. The bottom line is:

Shared goals lead to higher commitment and greater motivation.

Randy Hanson is a successful soccer coach at the youth, college and professional level. To view his soccer coaching resource including tested drills, tactics, systems of play and much more please click:

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