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Speak up or sit out: Encouraging players to ask for help. (Side Lines).

Good communication is important for both athletes and coaches. It can be a life--saving skill used to prevent the serious injury and consequences of dehydration. Athletes who take the "I'm tough" approach during training and competition might neglect to speak up when they need a rest or fluid break. In coaching, it's easy to focus primarily on the technical elements of sport--putting together good game plans and teaching good technique--and lose sight of the need to communicate effectively about other aspects.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you encourage athletes to speak up? Do you pay attention to body language? Do you recognize signs of dehydration and fatigue? Communicating would be easier if athletes always told coaches when there was a problem, however research suggests that 70 percent of communication is non-verbal. That's why it is important for coaches to watch for signals that indicate something is wrong. For instance, visible warning signs of dehydration include: loss of energy, poor performance, muscle cramping, irritability, weakness and dizziness. Coaches ski]led in reading their athletes and who encourage them to speak up can successfully prevent the effects of dehydration or injury, assist in skill development and bolster athletes' confidence.

RELATED ARTICLE: Encourage players to ask for help when needed:

Be approachable. Establish open lines of communication with your players. Ask questions that specifically address injuries, dehydration and recovery. Pay attention to both the verbal and nonverbal messages your athletes send. If they look tired and lack effort they may be sending an important nonverbal message.

Be clear and consistent. When talking to athletes about issues that may require your help, be sure that what you sat informs athletes how to get better. Know the early warning signs to their problem and how to make it better or direct them to someone who can.

Be an active listener. Hearing what your athletes say and understanding them are distinctly different activities. When in doubt, paraphrase what your athletes say so they know you are listening. For example, "What I'm hearing you say is..." Or "Are you suggesting..." helps athletes know you are listening and understand their concerns.

Communicate with a positive approach. When providing constructive feedback think good better how.

Good - Start with something they did correctly

Better - Give instructional feedback on how to get better

How - Finish with a compliment so they want to get better

Dr. Petlichkoff was a high school and junior college volleyball coach, which stimulated her research interests in understanding why children participate in and drop out of organized sports.
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Article Details
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Author:Petlichkoff, Linda M.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Previous Article:A-Resting conversation. (Here Below).
Next Article:The athletic director and change. (A.D.Ministration).

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