Nonverbal communication sends powerful messages
How often are you using it?
Nonverbal communication is a skill most of us use without even realizing it. It is a very powerful form of communication. School teachers, and business leaders are masters of the skill.
Coaching kids sports is a most rewarding experience when your athletes are positive and interacting enthusiastically with you and each other.
Nonverbal communication can be used by coaches to send both positive and negative messages to the sports kids.
Here are a few common types. I personally use these in both my teaching and sports coaching. An example of each follows. This is how I most use each one to reinforce a positive or negative nonverbal communication message.
- Facial expressions
Positive – a smile
Negative – frowning
- Eye contact
Positive – making eye contact with one child but saying ‘well done everybody’ lets them know I mean you especially
Negative - starring at a child doing the wrong thing, I also frown to make it more clear
- Tone of voice
Positive – adding a laugh and excited voice conveys my approval
Negative – deepening and making my voice louder lets them know I disapprove
- Body posture
Positive – a pump of the arm or thumbs up says ‘yes great effort’
Negative – putting both hands up in the air while rocking your head back means ‘I can’t believe you just did that!’
- Personal space, proximity
Positive – standing next to an athlete when praising them conveys to others that they did a great job
Negative – when poor behavior is being demonstrated move over next to the athlete in question to let them know you’re watching
- Silence and time
Positive – when speaking to athletes pausing in your praise before continuing conveys that you thought their effort was exceptional
Negative – just standing in front of an individual, squad or team and saying nothing tells them you are waiting for their attention and focus
- Being tactile
Positive – a hand on the shoulder or shaking hands when praising a super effort
Negative – a hand on the shoulder when negative behavior is being displayed
Don’t forget the almighty Whistle as well!
You have been using these forms of nonverbal communication for years with family, friends and work colleges but maybe not realizing their powerful effects. Sports kids will react if you employ these strategies.
Remember you are trying to reinforce positive behaviors or change a negative into a positive behavior by using this form of communication.