Transactional and Transformational Coaching; Which one are You?

I have been reading Inside Out Coaching By Joe Ehrmann, which I highly recommend to anyone who coaches. One topic that has really stuck with me is types of coaching and what it can do to a player. As coaches I don’t think we all realize the impact that we are having on our players simply based on the words we say. In this book coaches are broken down into two types. Transactional and Transformational.  This is my take away from the two different philosophies and what I think is the better option.

Before we get to deep I should give the authors meaning of both. Transactional coaches: the kind of coaches who use players as tools to meet their personal needs for validation, status, and identity. They held their power over us to elicit the response they wanted. Transformational coaches, who used their coaching platform to impart life-changing messages. Coach-power, like all forms of power, can be used either for good or for bad, for self or for others. Transformational coaches are other-centered. They use their power and platform to nurture and transform players.  By definition its pretty obvious to what we should be shooting for, but based on my observations there are a-lot of coaches who speak this way but rarely act.

 As coaches we tend to become what we have learned, which is for many of us is we have to be tough,  The only way to make a player “tough” is to coach them tough. How coaches have you heard say life is going to be hard and as a coach is part of my job to prepare them for that. That is true, life is hard and things we learn as kids impact how we act as adults. However there is a big difference in being hard on a kid and just being an asshole. If you are constantly yelling at your players, especially by name publicly you aren’t being a good coach. No one wants to or should be publicly shamed.  Don’t yank players after a bad play, teach them to play through it. When your batter is up is not the time to coach it’s time to cheerlead. They are IN the moment, as a coach you should be confident that you have prepared your player to preform. Great hitters fail at batting 70 percent of the time, your negativity or constant instruction is just lowering their changes.  Being a transactional coach will lead to your players remembering you, but not necessary in a positive way. As a coach myself I have been guilty of these practices, but as a coach I think it’s important to constantly evolving and coming up with ways to have a more positive impact on players.  

Before I say anything to any of my players I consider what I would want to here if I was in their situation. Life is hard and it is our responsibility as coaches to prepare them for that, but that can be done without belittling or targeting a player or yelling at the team. This doesn’t motivate many it actually tends to have the opposite effect. Build them up, make them feel so confident to where they know each failure just puts them closer to their next success.

Transformational coaches might be the more impactful group in the world. This is the type of coaching ( in my opinion we should work to become) As an athlete I relate almost everything I do as an adult back to sports and the coaches who impacted my life over the years. The most meaningful coaches to me are the ones who left me with lessons I use in my life daily.  My confidence is sky high because of them, I rarely face a challenge in life and see it as a negative. I look at it a way a competition and something that I know I can beat because I am confident in my ability to perform. I was born with this mindset, I was coached to believe it. Use the whistle for its transformative and not its authoritative power. Outside of parenting there might not be a better platform than coaching to transform kids into healthy and thriving adults.

As coaches we tend to try and teach life skills, even though we might have never personally experienced them personally. We all grew up differently and were exposed to different types of adversity. Don’t try and teach outside of what you know. If your player is having a tough time with say parents getting divorced, while you come from a family of long marriage, chances are that child isn’t going to pay much attention to what you have to say because you never experienced what they are going through. Who would you want to teach you how to dunk? Michael Jordan or Tom Brady. Brady is great at what he does but let’s be honest Brady isn’t dunking much of anything.  Don’t take it personal,  Kids just respond better to people who can directly relate to what they are feeling.  All you can do is let them know you are there for them, and if they trust and respect you they will come to you. Maybe not for advice, but just for you to listen and if you are a transformational coach that’s all you will do, LISTEN.

Self reflection and asking for feedback from parents is a good way to access your coaching and gives you insight on things you can work on to improve. 

Just as we want to develop our players, we should be working just as hard to develop as coaches. Some question we should take note of each season are.  

Why do I coach? 

Why do I coach the way I do? 

What does it feel like to be coached by me? 

How do I define and measure success?  

Be honest with yourself and keep a journal of your answers. Over the years you can see the progress you made or see what progress needs to be made. Self evaluation is hard because we all have an idea of who we think we are, but few can really be honest with themselves to who we really em.

When you look at your team how many players can you look at pregame and just see how nervous they are?  As a coach that’s on you, a confident team is a successful team. Not in the sense of winning and losing but they go out every game and compete every play until the final out or the clock its 0. Thats confidence as a coach or business owner that’s what you want. Players and employees who are willing to fight WITH you until it’s over. Though you may not have won that day, you can walk away proud and confident that you gave everything you had.

Our challenge as coaches is to use our position and influence to become people who help transform athletes lives. We are in a position to help them understand and navigate the challenges of growing up in our culture. There are many young people playing sports who feel beaten down and upset but the very activities that should strengthen, encourage and complete them. A coach’s responsibilities include helping young people to confront and understand  the toxic culture that is trying to shape them. Coaches have the power to teach young people to be more understanding and caring. 

Where do you fit in? 

Is transactional coaching you method, is it better? Are working on becoming a transformational coach?   

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