One of the most important traits for a good coach is strong leadership skills. It’s the coach’s responsibility to help his or her players develop and perform to each of their highest potential. Servant leadership has proven to be an effective method to increase team performance. When the coach serves to make his individual players better, the result is each player is more engaged in the overall outcome of the team’s success. The word “DELIVER” can be used as an acronym to develop a clear structure and get high performance results.
D – Dedicate time and efforts to make the most of all the players. Each player has a unique personality and skill set. Know their strengths and weaknesses and determine their best role on the team for overall success. Make each player’s role on the team important.
E – Educate each player to the best method of improving his or her game. Players must be encouraged to be “students of the game”. Continuous learning is a requirement at all levels of sports. The team is only as strong as its weakest link. Work harder to get better!
L – Learn how your players learn best. Is the player a visual learner, auditory or tactile learner? Visual is seeing the skill in progress, auditory is to hear the commands, talk about the drill and tactile - hands on practice. Find out the best way to take each individual player to the next level of skill development.
I – Intervene – step in and offer special attention if a player on the team seems to have a particular problem and at times struggling with a skill. Individual attention can help immensely in the player having a break through to getting better at a particular skill or part of the game.
V – Validate when the players are doing the proper exercise to increase the skill level. Have a critical eye and correct bad habits. Encourage the proper way and instill proper technique and good practice ways.
E – Empower – continue to give the players the positive reinforcement they need to ramp up the newly learned skills. When players feel good they are more confident and confidence is so important to having athletic success whether at the novice or professional levels.
R – Reinforce after each game, remember to reinforce the positives of the game, what each player has contributed to that game. Look for the good elements to help create a positive team atmosphere. Continuously building on small successes will facilitate bigger overall successes. Badger Bob Johnson, a former Calgary Flames coach was a master of finding the positives even if this team lost a game 7 to 1! He was very passionate about hockey and keeping things positive!
So coaches take the “DELIVER” approach with your players and you will find that your athletes are developing their skills, feeling good, enjoying the sport, while working together towards overall team successes. This approach will provide a positive learning environment and players will continue to use their enhanced skills in their on ice performance game in and game out to get to the next level.