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Communication

Staying in touch is key even when you’re not face-to-face with your team.

It’s dif­fi­cult, but learn­ing to com­mu­ni­cate remote­ly teach­es you the val­ue of time and helps deter­mine what real­ly mat­ters. Be patient with your­self and with your team — no one is going to be per­fect if they’re not used to talk­ing and train­ing remote­ly, but small ges­tures go a long way.

Set Expectations

One of the best things you can do to make remote com­mu­ni­ca­tion as pain­less as pos­si­ble is estab­lish­ing expec­ta­tions with your team. Remove the guess­work by answer­ing these ques­tions upfront:

How can play­ers reach you? How will you be con­tact­ing them? Do you pre­fer to text, email or instant mes­sage? Or would you rather take a phone call? Be sure to review and fol­low your organization’s poli­cies for con­tact­ing players.

When can play­ers reach you? Are you avail­able to talk any­time, or do you have ded­i­cat­ed peri­ods of time for your ath­letes? Consider cre­at­ing office hours” where you’re on a video call to field ques­tions, assign home­work or just chat. You can make these manda­to­ry, or allow play­ers to join and leave at their con­ve­nience. Sticking with your reg­u­lar prac­tice times for vir­tu­al prac­tices” can help give your play­ers and their fam­i­lies the struc­ture they’re used to.

What are you going to talk about? Is the goal to have a dig­i­tal film review ses­sion, or are you set­ting up a time to social­ize as a group? Whether you’re meet­ing with your play­ers one-on-one or as a full team, set­ting an agen­da is impor­tant so every­one knows what to expect and can come pre­pared — even if it’s just a check-in to see how someone’s doing. (Keep in mind that play­ers might be join­ing these con­ver­sa­tions while fam­i­ly mem­bers are around. Giving them a pre­view of what you’ll dis­cuss helps them find a space where they’ll be com­fort­able hav­ing that conversation.) 

Your remote ses­sions don’t have to be about busi­ness” — hav­ing a video call to play triv­ia or oth­er games as a team is a great tac­tic to engage players. 

Finally, remem­ber that you set the tone. Communicating via video, call or text can be awk­ward if you’re not used to it, so it’s up to you to show com­pas­sion. You won’t have the added ben­e­fit of all the non­ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion you’re used to — even via video, facial expres­sions aren’t as easy to read. Pay atten­tion, show you’re lis­ten­ing and ask ques­tions to make sure you’re on the same page.

Find the Right Tools

There are plen­ty of resources that help you con­nect with your team and dis­trib­ute con­tent. (If you work at a school, you might need to use soft­ware that’s approved by your dis­trict — be sure to check with your admin­is­tra­tion to see what’s avail­able.) These are some of our favorites: 

Video Conferencing

These plat­forms all offer free ver­sions, as well as paid plans with expand­ed features. 

  • Google Hangouts allows up to 10 par­tic­i­pants for an unlim­it­ed duration.
  • Zoom allows up to 100 par­tic­i­pants for 40 minutes.
  • Cisco Webex allows up to 100 par­tic­i­pants for an unlim­it­ed duration.
  • Skype allows up to 50 par­tic­i­pants for an unlim­it­ed duration.
  • UberConference allows up to 10 par­tic­i­pants for 45 minutes.
  • Microsoft Teams is free for teach­ers and students. 

For iOS users, FaceTime is anoth­er great option. 

Messaging

If a group text isn’t work­ing for you, these apps are all great options to com­mu­ni­cate with the entire team or one-on-one. 

Content Sharing

These tools are designed to help you share video and oth­er content. 

  • Hudl makes it easy to share video and PDFs with your team. 
  • Google Drive allows you to share doc­u­ments, spread­sheets, pre­sen­ta­tions and oth­er file types.
  • Google Classroom is free for any­one with a .edu email address, though your school’s IT depart­ment may need to set it up for you. 

Using these tools and the guide­lines above, you’ll be able to stay in touch with your play­ers when you’re not able to phys­i­cal­ly get togeth­er. Read on to learn why this is so impor­tant for team morale.

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Team Morale