Coaches Expectations Towards Player's

The only difference between the bride and the bridesmaid is the amount of attention and compliments one of them receives. It is the feeling of being treated specially that makes her feel better, more confident and that she has achieved something special. The greater the confidence the more likely they are to enjoy themselves and achieve more.

This may not seem totally appropriate to the art of coaching but it has more relevance than the first view may suggest. Individuals (the majority of) act as they feel they are expected to. So if the coach expects more out of them, more often than not, the players will push themselves that little bit harder to achieve those targets set. Unfortunately the same applies the other way round, if a player feels that the coach expects little or nothing from them then many, with the exception of few intrinsically motivated, will just cruise through and not give 100%. So to refer back to the original analogy, the bride takes the spotlight and the bridesmaid retreats to the shadows, regardless their natural personality traits while the individuals treat them differently.

The coaches’ communication, body language and attitude employed can usually represent the expectations they hold for each of their individual player’s or even the entire team. These messages are often passed on unintentionally, but never-the-less they are passed on. It could occur in the levels of attention the coach gives to different players or in the manner which they describe their player’s to fellow coaches or individuals. Consider the following two overly used sentences ‘Well done, excellent you’ll do great in the match Jimmy, now lets try this one’ and ‘You’ve almost got it, don’t give up Scotty’. Both could be portrayed as a coach trying to motivate the two player’s but which player do you think will respond in a more positive manner? Will it be the one who has been praised and been shown special attention or will it be the one who has just had a passing comment aimed in their direction?

It is the coaches’ role to help all their player’s realise and reach their potential, not to pre determine what level they will achieve and coach them accordingly. How will a player improve if they do not have the instruction and information to do so?

Therefore the process for an individual to reach their full potential and achieve a level of self pride and a feeling of fulfilment can be greatly affected by the perception they feel the coach has of them. This perception is created and the resultant behaviour emerges through a four-stage cycle:

  1. Expectations for the player’s performance level are developed by the coach.
  2. The manner and approach the coach has towards the player may vary once the expectations exist.
  3. The coaches’ expectations, manner and approach may, positively or negatively, affect the performance, confidence and learning speed of the player.
  4. The majority of player’s will allow their performance to conform to the expectations originally developed by the coach.

The cycle then begins again as the coaches’ expectations change and re-develop.

Some coaches’ expectations of a player are quite evident by the relationship they have with them and the behaviour they show towards them. As a coach consider which of your players receive more interpersonal contact (such as conversations, smiles and praise from you) and greater aid and assistance to enhance their performance (such as new material to practice or homework assignments). Now consider the expectations of all those players. Which ones do you tend to have more time for? Is there actually any evident bias in your approach at all? If you are unsure or think not, then you could ask someone to observe how you treat your players, you do not have to tell the observer your expectations of the players, but it may be interesting to hear what the independent individual perceives regarding your behaviour.

Basically put, if you expect very little then that what you will mostly get, however if you set and expect an achievable high standard then your players will conform and a visible improvement will occur.

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