Sunday, July 28, 2019

Thoughts #16: Lessons from Serena Williams' Coach

Patrick Mouratoglou (born 8 June 1970) is a Greek French tennis coach and sports commentator. He has been the coach of Serena Williams since June 2012.

 My coaching method, which I apply to everyone, involves learning to understand the player, how to speak to him/her, how to analyze that player’s game and how to work with each of them taking into consideration their particular personality. I used to say that every player has their own world and their own language, and this is something you need to learn as a coach in order to be heard, trusted and followed.

More coaching tips:

Get input from your athletes - check with your athletes to determine if what you are communicating to them is understood, what they need, and what they want. Remember, if you are asking for input, at least be willing to incorporate something (a suggestion) at some point.

Keep your athletes informed as to when, where, how, and why (and WHY is most important) - people are not generally motivated to start (or finish) a task that is not clear in terms of when, where, how, or why. Take away any questions or doubts that your athletes may have by clearly and consistently communicating your expectations and intentions. Be clear as to when, where, and how . . . but most important, be sure your athletes know "why" they are being asked to do something. 

Create an environment that allows for challenge, recognition, appreciation, and quality - some of your athletes will be motivated by a challenge, some by recognition, some by appreciation, and some by quality of performance. It is important to know your athletes and what their primary motive might be. 

Challenge some (1 v 1 against a teammate), recognize others in front of their teammates (at the end of practice or in the locker room), appreciate others in private (in your office or the hallway), and provide others with a chance to show you a quality performance (quality over quantity of work). Remember, different athletes are motivated by different situations and feedback.

Give your athletes a reason to want to work hard - take the time to develop genuine, honest, caring, and trusting relationships with your players. Athletes will work harder (and longer) for someone they know genuinely believes in them, cares about them, and is committed to helping them achieve their potential. At the heart of player motivation is the quality of the coach-athlete relationship.

Model what you want to see - be motivated yourself. If you want someone to work hard, you better be working hard. If you want someone to put in extra time, you better be putting in extra time. Athletes do what they see. This is why the motivation of the coaching staff is so important and why it is so important to have quality team leaders who can lead by example, hold accountable, and promote a climate of motivation and inspiration. Set a motivational "standard" by what you do, say, and expect. Say it, expect it, but also make sure you do it!

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