Communication in Coaching

Coaching is all about improvement. If you want to help your players get better, it’s important to always improve your coaching skills, too. That’s why we’re thrilled to bring you these communication tips from the Hardwood Hustle podcast. Check out some of our favorites:

Basketball HuddleTip No. 1: “It’s so easy to stay on the surface level with people, but try to make an effort to go deeper with your communication. Get to someone’s background, their goals and passions, because being able to connect on a deep level with someone allows for some of the best communication possible.”

Tip No. 2: “Make sure you are always communicating in your audience’s language. You may need to get right to the point or even slow down, or dive deeply into the ‘why’ behind what you are communicating. Take time to understand their language, and you will be better able to communicate your message.”

Tip No. 3: “Knowledge and communication go hand in hand. Great leaders are always learning, and the more you know about something the better you are able to communicate effectively in that area.”

Tip No. 4: “Take the approach of less is more. Coaches can be guilty of over-communicating in practice, giving our players so many things to work on at once that they have a hard accomplishing any of it. Simplify your communication in practice and try to keep main points to three or less, and see if your players are better able to focus and achieve the main goals for that day’s practice.”rp_Soccer-Coach_web.jpg

Tip No. 5: “As you prepare to have any difficult conversations with your team, you must approach the situation with a perfect balance of grace and truth. All ‘truth’ may create some tension and a defensive player. All ‘grace’ may lead to a player feeling better but without the actual issue being addressed. Before you address the player, think about how you can blend and balance grace and truth to have the most productive conversation possible.”

Coaches Spotlight

What is the hardest thing about coaching your sport?

⚾️ There are so many “rules” in baseball that I always have to remind myself that not all of the kids know the rules and the game itself. While that is challenging from a coaching aspect, it is also rewarding when you are able to teach these kids the game. Seeing someone who hasn’t played before or doesn’t understand the game “get it” as the season goes on is really satisfying as a coach.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not coaching?

⚾️ I like to watch a lot of sports on TV or in person. I also like to travel and take vacations, play catch with my kids & go out to dinner with my wife.

What is your favorite book or movie and why?

⚾️ I really liked the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” because it is one of the classics. I liked the movie version as well. To me, the story teaches the lesson that you never really know who a person is or what a person is like unless you walk in their shoes. I am also a Star Wars nerd, so any Star Wars movie is my favorite, and I can pretty much quote all of them. I’ve been hooked since I saw the original movie in the theater in 1977. It’s neat to see that my kids enjoy Star Wars now as well.

Do you have any words of advice for the athletes at ABVM?

⚾️ I would say that even if you are unsure of playing a sport, try it! Athletics is a great way to get exercise, to learn something new, and to be a part of a team. Winning is always great, but playing the right way, learning, supporting your teammates, and most of all having FUN is what it’s all about.

Thank you Tim for your dedication & time to the student athletes at ABVM!

Coaches Spotlight


🏐 Long time ABVM parent & volleyball coach Gary Balcolm knows all too well what it takes for ABVM student athletes to be successful.  When asked what the hardest thing about coaching is, he says “Waiting to see the girls do what you know they are capable of doing. When it happens though it is the most rewarding thing of all”. He enjoys camping with his family and doing photography.  He mostly takes senior pictures, but also does sports and family pictures too. Gary enjoys reading & says his favorite book is “The Firm” by John Grisham, “Because it is written so well, that your heart races as if you were the character in the book.  It is as good, if not better than the movie”.

🏐 His advice to the younger ABVM athletes …. “It is great to be an athlete at ABVM because you learn the basics of the sport, but you also learn team work and leadership skills. Leadership skills are shown when some of the more seasoned players are assisting the players who are just learning some of the skills. I love to ask the girls that have gone through the programs outside of ABVM to show what they have learned with the other girls. It is even more rewarding to see the girls use what they have just learned and be successful at it.

The Power of Postive Coaching

Imagine you’re coaching a big soccer game, against an undefeated team that has beaten your team in all your previous matches. Your 11-year-olds are playing well and are ahead. Then, in the closing minutes, the official makes a bad call that goes against you and, because of it, you lose. After the game, the parents of your players scream at the official. The kids are disappointed, looking up at you. What do you do?

Or you’re coaching tee-ball and one of your 5-year-old players has failed to get a hit so far. Now, he’s up again in a crucial situation and is nervous. All eyes are on him. His first swing misses high. The second misses low and knocks the ball off the tee. You call him over to offer some help. What do you say?

Or you’re a parent and your 14-year-old daughter has just come off the basketball court. In the final seconds of the game, with her team behind by a point, she was fouled and awarded two free throws. What do you say if she missed both of them and her team lost? What if she triumphed? (Tune in on Wednesday for the answers!)

Coaches can be enormously influential in the lives of children. If you ask a random group of adults to recall something of significance that happened in their fourth or fifth grade classroom, many will draw a blank. But ask about a sports memory from childhood and you’re likely to hear about a game winning hit, or a dropped pass, that, decades later, can still elicit emotion. The meaning that coaches or parents help young people derive from such moments can shape their lives.

But today’s youth coaches often struggle to provide sound, evidence-based, and age-appropriate guidance to players. Part of the problem is that of the 2.5 million American adults who serve as volunteer coaches for youth sports less than 10 percent receive any formal training. Most become coaches because their kid is on the team ― and they basically improvise. I did this in soccer and, through my over-eagerness, almost destroyed my then-6-year-old son’s delight for the game.

But a bigger problem is that youth sports has come to emulate the win-at-all-costs ethos of professional sports. While youth and professional sports look alike, adults often forget that they are fundamentally different enterprises. Professional sports is an entertainment business. Youth sports is supposed to be about education and human development.

That’s why it is so disturbing that, over the past two decades, researchers have found that poor sportsmanship and acts of aggression have become common in youth sports settings. Cheatinghas also become more accepted. Coaches give their stars the most play. Parents and fans boo opponents or harangue officials (mimicking professional events). They put pressure on children to perform well, with hopes for scholarships or fulfilling their own childhood dreams. Probably the most serious indictment of the system is that the vast majority of youths ― some 70 to 80 percent ― drop out of sports shortly after middle school. For many, sports become too competitive and selective. In short, they stop being fun.

May’s Coaches Spotlight

Longtime parishioner & aunt of ABVM student athlete Emma Simmons 😊, Molly Burns, has volunteered much time, talent & knowledge to coaching ABVM girls Volleyball. Sometimes calling herself the Bobby Knight of grade school volleyball, she likes to win…But gets frustrated when the points don’t go her teams way! She reminds herself that the girls have to learn the fundamentals of the sport first. Pointing out that many players have never even held a volleyball before the first practice, so watching them get their serves over or win a point after a good rally proves better than winning.


Molly loves watching her nieces & nephews in their activities like sports, plays or concerts. She travels a lot for work so she enjoys any activities that keep her in the “mitten” like concerts, dinner with family & friends and riding her bike on the White Pine Trail. Molly loves to laugh and appreciates people with a great sense of humor and wit. Comedy & romantic comedy are her favorite types of movies. She enjoys reading. On her plane rides while traveling for work she gets book ideas from friends on “Goodreads”.


Words of advice she has for the athletes at ABVM …..”You don’t have to be the best athlete, but you have to try your hardest. Be on time. Run all the way to the line. Play until the whistle. Cheer for your teammates. Help your opponents up if they fall. Hustle on and off the court. Respect your coaches, teammates, opponents and the officials. And most importantly, laugh and have fun!!” Spoken like a true coach Molly!


Thank you for your commitment & passion for ABVM athletics! You rule!