Facing Criticism -Makes you a better coach

I decided to change the tempo of the blogs with this article. I have published the entire article below. Even though it was aimed at Rugby people it resonates with any coach in any sport and/or specialty.  After recent performances both good and bad sometimes certain criticism questions your own ability. How you react to criticisms and deal with it is what will define you. I would finish by saying take the attitude It’s not unfair criticism but a critique.

Never take it personally as it then becomes about you and your ego, Sport isn’t about us, it’s about the players.”

How criticism can make you a better coach

FROM Rugby Coach Weekly:

Having holes picked in your coaching is not always easy to take, be it well-meaning or not. Here is a seven-point plan to help deal with words you might not agree with.

It is sometimes said that criticism is “prejudice given plausibility”. In other words, people who don’t know what they are talking about, or are biased, telling you with what they think about you with some authority. Knowing that doesn’t always makes us feel better when a player offers criticism. You need to make sure you deal with it in the right way.

  1. Detach

Criticism is normally of your actions not your person. Therefore, detach any personal angst from what is being said. You are working hard to coach well and that should not be undervalued by anyone. You are also capable of making mistakes whilst trying to improve the team. Listen to that, not the personal aspects.

  1. Understand your critic is a player and you are coaching players

Criticism is always worth listening to if it comes from a player. Your job is to coach players and they have views, good and bad on what you are doing. There may be merit in what they are saying, which might mean you can adjust and improve sessions.

  1. It might be just one critic

How many players hold the same view, is it just one lone voice? One player’s view might just be that – but you can use it as a signal to check if you need to adjust your coaching.

  1. Find more critics

Once you have received criticism, check with other players to see whether they are thinking the same. Of course, this is quite a brave thing to do. The warning signal from one player might be more persuasive if a couple of other players agree. However, it might be that they disagree…

  1. Ask questions

Once you have received the criticism, take the opportunity to drill down into the reasons behind it. Be careful not to be aggressive or defensive in your line of enquiry. Instead ask open-ended questions to help you understand what is exactly being said and probably more importantly, make the critic feel like they have been listened to.

Try questions like: Can you explain what you meant by…? What is an example of…? How would you improve…? How would you implement the change you have suggested? The ball is then in their court to suggest solutions.

  1. Accept when you need to accept criticism, and ignore the rest

There are three types of criticism: accurate, inaccurate or different. Accurate criticism you will want to act on. Inaccurate you can reject. Finally, there may be views which are different to yours and do not fit your philosophy. You can reject this too, while acknowledging to the player that it might be valid in another context. For instance, the player might want to spend more time on one part of his game, while you want to develop him in other areas.

  1. Thank your critics

Because you want to have a dialogue with your players, you should be open to criticism. If you are criticised, then there is no better way to show you are strong and in control than by saying thank you for their views. Only by listening to the players will you become more effective at coaching them better.