The magic of voice

If you have ever taken a Meyers-Briggs personality assessment, the first segment is introvert or extrovert. I am clearly an introvert. When given a choice between talking to a person or group of people or reading a book, I would choose reading a book every time. If you see me in the classroom or on the pitch, I don't appear to be uncomfortable. In fact, I look like I am clearly enjoying myself. The reality is that I am enjoying the interactions with players and students and I have discovered over time that I am comfortable with virtually any type of group, regardless of age or experience.

So how is that possible? as Jon Lovitz used to say "Acting!!!" (with a flourish). I have mastered a teacher/coach personality that is energetic, excited, jovial and possibly funny as well. I can slip into this personality and modify it to the level of the group quickly.

When I am mentoring a coach, I like to demonstrate the activities and behaviors that I want to see the coach use. One of the most important behaviors is the use of voice. Your voice can convey so much of what you want your kids to do or it can confuse them. I recently ran a session with a group of U12 players and we got into a rousing game of "get outta here." I ran the first two rounds and the action was fast paced, the level was high and the kids were having a blast. I then stepped back and asked the assistant coach to take over. Immediately, the level of the activity dropped as the players waited for the coach to make a call or to say it loud enough for the kids to know what to do.

This has happened often enough for me to conclude that like my coaching personality, voice is a key component of coaching success. Many people will interpret this to mean that the louder you are, the more effective you are. That idea couldn't be farther from the truth. Like any human, your players will tune you out if you keep saying the same thing the same way. You can maintain interest and attention simply by varying your voice. Players can hear whispers as well as shouts. As a coach, you can convince kids that an activity is exciting just by the tone of your voice and the energy you show.

So get out there and look like you are having fun, use your voice as a tool to control your practice and don't be afraid to step out of yourself and assume a personality that makes your kids have a better learning experience. Trust me, the more you try to do it, the easier it will get.

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