Why Player Input Is Valuable and How to Source It Effectively

Your play­ers have a unique per­spec­tive on the action. Go through the video with them to unearth their insights.

Why Player Input Is Valuable and How to Source It Effectively

Your play­ers have a unique per­spec­tive on the action. Go through the video with them to unearth their insights.

Smart coach­es know the val­ue of lis­ten­ing to oth­ers. Assistants, fel­low head coach­es and men­tors can all bring valu­able ideas to the table, offer­ing up new plays and strate­gies the coach may not have discovered.

These sources are all very valu­able, but there’s a trea­sure trove of knowl­edge many coach­es fail to tap into — the indi­vid­u­als actu­al­ly play­ing the games.

There’s inher­ent risk in trust­ing a player’s opin­ion as gospel. Most ath­letes nat­u­ral­ly view the game from a self­ish per­spec­tive, only tak­ing into account how the action affects them and their per­for­mance. They have a nar­row­er focus and unlike a coach who sees how each action affects anoth­er, they’re more con­cerned with exe­cut­ing their spe­cif­ic assignment.

That being said, ath­letes pro­vide a per­spec­tive that coach­es and spec­ta­tors sim­ply can­not dupli­cate. The play­ers are the ones actu­al­ly see­ing, feel­ing and hear­ing what’s hap­pen­ing dur­ing games. Their input can help unearth insights not attain­able from the sideline.

Identify Proper Sources

Not every play­er is qual­i­fied to pro­vide accu­rate, unbi­ased infor­ma­tion. The human mind isn’t capa­ble of being sub­jec­tive and ath­letes’ opin­ions will always be col­ored by their per­son­al account of what tran­spired. They’re fight­ing for more play­ing time and oppor­tu­ni­ties, and may not be capa­ble of mak­ing objec­tive assess­ments that ben­e­fit the team.

But some upper­class­men have the abil­i­ty to see the game beyond them­selves. These play­ers can offer valu­able insight on not only their indi­vid­ual matchup, but the tem­po of the game, why a play did or didn’t work, and notes on the opponent.

Identify a few old­er play­ers, prefer­ably cap­tains, and ask for their input. These inter­ac­tions will offer a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on the game, give the ath­lete con­fi­dence and improve your rela­tion­ship.

Turn On the Video

While there’s val­ue in an impromp­tu dis­cus­sion dur­ing a break in the game, the most impor­tant lessons are unearthed when video enters the pic­ture. Neither you nor your ath­letes remem­ber the game exact­ly as it hap­pened — stress and emo­tions affect the way we remem­ber things. The video pro­vides an objec­tive recollection.

Identify cer­tain plays and ask the ath­lete why they did or didn’t work. What did he or she see that caused a cer­tain set to fail? Did the oppo­nent adjust after see­ing the same play a few times? If so, how could the play be tweaked to keep them guessing?

Not only will these ses­sions help you learn new infor­ma­tion, but it will cre­ate a more approach­able envi­ron­ment with­in your pro­gram and bet­ter pre­pare your ath­letes if they aspire to coach some day.

Find the Style that Works

During your career you’ve devel­oped a style of play you’re com­fort­able with and feel con­fi­dent in. For the most part, it’s up to the play­ers to fit in with your way of doing things.

But it’s wise to make tweaks based on your ros­ter. Each group of play­ers is dif­fer­ent, and stick­ing to one approach might be set­ting them up to fail. Ask your most trust­ed play­ers what they think might work or if there’s some­thing the team can do bet­ter. You don’t have to make sweep­ing changes based off these sug­ges­tions, but sourc­ing more infor­ma­tion gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what the lock­er room thinks when you’re not around.

Athletes can be an invalu­able source of infor­ma­tion if you use them cor­rect­ly. Going to them for insights builds trust and sheds light on things you can’t see from the side­line. Something as sim­ple as a 15-minute video ses­sion can go a long way in fos­ter­ing trust and dis­cov­er­ing new clues to help the team. For more tips, check out our Coaching Resources page.